Malky Mackay believes Watford’s early season form proves his side are not the “relegation fodder” many pundits predicted.

Watford were described as relegation certainties by many going into this season but the Hornets have produced two good performances and arguably deserve to have taken the maximum six points from their opening two matches.

The Hornets were on top for the majority of Saturday’s match with Coventry City and looked certain to secure their second consecutive Championship win this season before Aidy Boothroyd’s men snatched a draw in the dying minutes.

“We started fantastically today and kept it going,” Mackay said after the 2-2 draw on Saturday.

“We dealt with Coventry’s directness and our athleticism told in so many areas today.

“In the first half the goal was definitely coming and the save the boy [Michael Quirke] made from Marvin Sordell was outstanding.

“At half time we knew Coventry would try and be resilient and change things and I think we dealt with that very well and it brought the next goal.

“I was delighted with our performance today. Certain quarters of the media are writing us off at the moment as relegation fodder so to go out there and give the two performances we have in the league, I am delighted with the young group in there.”

Fourth official Matt Stewart replaced Trevor Kettle midway through the half due to the referee’s calf injury and Mackay was furious with Stewart for awarding the late penalty which led to Coventry’s equaliser.

“I am stunned at the referee's decision for the penalty,” Mackay said.

“I asked Trevor Kettle what level he [Stewart] had refereed at and it is Conference level, so to come into a game and have to referee at Championship level and give a decision like that, that obviously means I am a bit upset.

“I have watched the dvd three or four times and there is no pull in there. There is an awful lot of bodies in there and he sees someone throwing both hands up in the air. It is the old one where you can tell when someone is falling and trying to break their fall or they have two hands above their head. Somebody with more experience would have noticed that.”

Saturday was the first time Boothroyd had returned to Vicarage Road as an opposing manager since he was sacked in November 2008.

And the Coventry boss, who led the Hornets to the Premier League in his first full season, received a warm reception from the home crowd.

“It was lovely,” Boothroyd said. “This [Watford] is like your first love I guess, you never forget it. I had brilliant times here, and some not so good times here, but all-in-all I enjoyed my time here and I was grateful for the opportunity and I am pleased to be back.”