He may have been denied the home win he badly wanted, but Tom Cleverley still ended his first match at Vicarage Road as interim head coach full of pride at how his Watford team had performed.

They were a few minutes away from beating title-chasing Leeds United, who came into the game on the back of a run of 12 wins in their last 13 league fixtures.

In the process of securing the 2-2 draw, Watford also became the first Championship team to score twice against Leeds since Boxing Day.

“I thought it was a much stronger performance than at Birmingham, even though we’ve not got the three points,” said Cleverley.

“We were more controlled and structured, brave in possession, and for 65 minutes I thought we were absolutely excellent.

“Of course you’re playing one of the league leaders and they are going to have good periods in the game.

“I’m really proud of the players tonight and I think they deserve a lot of credit.”

Although it was a night when the winless run at Vicarage Road increased to 10 league games, the performance was a vast improvement on nearly all during that spell.

“I’m focussing on the now, and not what happened before,” Cleverley admitted.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for the last manager and I’m just really pleased because it was an exciting performance.

“We were brave in possession and intense out of possession.

“What pleased me most was the focus of the players. Not one player switched off in that first 60/70 minutes, and that gives me a lot of encouragement moving forward.”

Losing Emmanuel Dennis just before the hour mark was a blow, and replacing him with Ismael Kone – rather than another forward – seemed to invite Leeds forward and handed the impetus to the visitors.

“Momentum is a massive thing in football, and when you’re up against a good side and that swings a little bit it’s very hard to get control of that,” said Cleverley.

“There’s a lot of ifs, buts and maybes about whether the changes were right, I know that.

“At the time I thought they were the correct ones to make but when you lose an attacking threat like Dennis was this evening, you are always going to suffer a little bit.”