Nigel Pearson praised Watford’s work-rate but acknowleged they can play better after being held to a 1-1 draw at fellow strugglers Brighton & Hove Albion.

A superb first-half goal from Abdoulaye Doucoure put the Hornets in the driving seat and in a position to move out of the bottom three, but they were forced to settle for a point after Adrian Mariappa put through his own net.

“It’s unfortunate,” the Hornets head coach said of the own goal. “We’ve worked exceptionally hard today and balls like that are very difficult to deal with. It would have been nice to talk about a hard-earned three points but it’s a hard-earned one point.”

Asked if Mariappa had received a shout, Pearson responded: “I’ve not discussed it at that length. It’s a ball that flashes into the box and as a defender you have to try and deal with it. I do also recognise the fact that if he misses it, probably they don’t get anybody on the end of it and I think you’ll find with the situations like that it doesn’t give you an awful lot of reaction time.”

Reflecting on how the game unfolded, Pearson said: “It’s a game in which we worked very hard out of possession. I thought we were very disciplined and I think we frustrated them.

“Apart from [Ben] Foster making one save in the second half I don’t think we really gave them too many opportunities to hurt us. In terms of frustrating a side who are basically possession-based I thought we worked very hard, our mixture of being defensively deep and pressing from the front was very good.

“The problem was sometimes we didn’t quite make enough of our own possession when we had it, but when you factor in what’s happened to us over the last couple of weeks, conceding late goals, there are going to be key moments in game where you’ve got to keep your nerve. I thought the players were very honest again, I thought they worked exceptionally hard but we know we can play better.”

Asked if he had considered making substitutions earlier, the Watford boss replied: “No, because I think they were getting quite frustrated. And I’ve been told that the possession in the first half and the second half was exactly the same time. Sometimes you eyes fool you.

“For sure, we could probably do with managing the ball that little bit better and getting higher up the pitch. The equaliser was a key moment but I was very pleased with how the players on the pitch were dealing with the situation.”