An “exceptionally disappointed” Nigel Pearson admitted Watford had let Everton “back into the game too easily” after their survival hopes suffered a blow following the 3-2 defeat at Vicarage Road.

Goals from Adam Masina and Roberto Pereyra appeared to have the put Hornets firmly in control approaching the break, only for Yery Mina to twice punish bad defending at corners to equalise before half-time.

The Toffees were reduced to ten men in the second half when Fabian Delph was sent off for a second yellow card, but they snatched the win in the last minute of normal time when Theo Walcott capitalised on a counter-attack.

The Hornets head coach reflected: “To play very positively in the first 44 minutes, to go two up because we’ve got things tactically pretty good, the players worked hard to stop them from playing and we were quite effective ourselves in terms of counter attacking and we scored two good goals.

“Then to come in at 2-2 is very frustrating after conceding from two set plays where we’ve, generally speaking, been good. Today we weren’t. We allowed them to get back into the game too easily and then lost it at the death again. We had an opportunity to manage the ball better, manage the game a little better and we didn’t and paid the price.”

Asked what caused his side to throw away their strong position before the break, Pearson responded: “Maybe a lack of concentration, but the important thing is to look after our own performances and our own results which is going to continue to be what I will say and how we approach the season.

“Today that means we have to reflect very honestly on the fact we have not taken care of own performance. We worked hard enough to get in front, then we didn’t work hard enough to preserve the lead that we fought so hard to get.

“It’s disappointing and clearly the players are a bit down at the moment as I would expect them to be, but we keep working. We get back to work tomorrow and get on with it because this game is now gone.

“We have to take responsibility for not seeing the first half through and we tried to win it but we ended up losing it and that is a very difficult one to take, but we’ll get over it because we have to.”

Pearson admitted his side struggled to find a rhythm in the second half after what happened before the interval, but continued: “I think you also have to give them some credit, the opposite effect I think would apply to them because they were clearly buoyant when they came out.

“They were on the receiving end of a similar sort of feeling at the end of last week’s game (Everton last a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to Newcastle United). Players don’t go out there to not raise their game but clearly Everton were more on the front foot in the second half and we were dealing with a difficult setback.”