Watford held Tottenham to a goalless draw on Saturday to extend their unbeaten run in the Premier League and further damage Spurs’ Champions League ambitions.
When Nigel Pearson took over at Vicarage Road last month Watford looked doomed ro relegation but he has put together a remarkable run of results to lift the club out of the relegation zone.
It is a different story for Jose Mourinho’s Spurs who, without the injured Harry Kane and with uncertainty over the future of Christian Eriksen, could be 11 points off fourth spot by the end of the day.
But Pearson will feel Watford should have wrapped up all three points after his side squandered some golden chances in the second half and captain Troy Deeney saw his penalty saved.
Before kick-off there was a warm tribute from the fans to former manager Graham Taylor, who died three years ago.
It was the visitors who settled first, finding their rhythm from the kick-off, dominating possession and probing for openings on the edge of the Watford box .
But the home side broke dangerously in the second minute, with Gerard Deulofeu shooting wide of Paulo Gazzaniga’s goal.
That was a rare foray forward in the opening stages for Watford, who struggled to get on top of Mourinho’s men.
Son Heung-min looked lively on the left of Tottenham’s attack and had the first shot on target but despite all their posession Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster rarely looked troubled.
The home side gradually worked their way into the game and started to see much more of the ball.
They had a good chance to test Gazzaniga when Japhet Tanganga was booked after bringing down Ismaila Sarr in a dangerous position just outside the penalty box but Nathaniel Chalobah wasted the opportunity.
Shortly before the half-hour there was a delay of several minutes as referee Michael Oliver was forced to change his communication kit, accompanied by the crowd chanting: “It’s not football any more.”
Foster saved from Son in the 30th minute and was down smartly to keep out a sharp Lucas Moura shot after a delightful through ball from Dele Alli.
Watford flew out of the blocks in the second half and could have been 2-0 up but for some poor finishing.
First Abdoulaye Doucoure scuffed the ball just wide after good work down the right by the dangerous Sarr before Sarr himself failed to connect properly from close range.
Although Watford were now well on top, Spurs continued to look dangerous on the break.
Alli headed over while Son shot after being released through the middle.
The decisive moment appeared to come with about 20 minutes to go when Spurs captain Jan Vertonghen was booked for handling Deulofeu’s shot in the penalty area.
Deeney stepped up and struck his shot firmly but Gazzaniga dived to his right to keep the ball out and the scores level.
Mourinho brought Eriksen off the bench and later introduced new signing Gedson Fernandes but it was Watford who continued to look the more dangerous side.