Darius Henderson nearly moved on when Nathan Ellington arrived from West Brom for a record £3.25m. But he came off the bench to score twice as Watford came from 2-1 behind to beat Southampton.
The last-minute winner wasn’t pretty, Henderson bundled it over the line from an Adam Johnson cross, but it sparked incredible celebrations.
‘We’ve had to build bridges,’ said Aidy Boothroyd. ‘But Darius said to me “Gaffer, you never do learn, do you? When I play, we win.” I can’t argue with him now.’
Watford initially adapted well to life back in the Championship. The squad had more depth and the team looked more resilient than their rivals.
With Tommy Smith on one wing and Jobi McAnuff on the other, they stretched the Saints. Ellington looked so bright at times, as he had done on his debut against Ipswich, when he hit the post.
When the Saints equalised Danny Shittu’s goal, Boothroyd had a couple of aces up his sleeve. He threw on Johnson and Henderson, only for the Saints to take the lead shortly afterwards.
It was a stark reminder of just how competitive the Championship could be. Although Watford had been in control, they suddenly faced the prospect of ending up with nothing.
That was until Henderson scored twice in the final ten minutes to send the Rookery end into raptures.
Watford Poom, Stewart, Shittu, DeMerit, Doyley, McAnuff (Johnson 59), Mahon, Williamson (Mariappa 81), Smith, King, Ellington (Henderson 66)
Manager Aidy Boothroyd
Scorers Shittu 41, Henderson 80, 90
Southampton scorers Rasiak 45, Dyer 69
Why was this match chosen? We didn't know how Aidy Boothroyd's side would react following relegation and this was one of those matches where a late turn-around seemed to galvanise everyone. The last-minute celebrations were fantastic.
How do I feel about this game's inclusion now? This is probably one of the matches that would miss the cut if the countdown was started from scratch now. Little did we know that Watford would slump from top spot, eight points clear, on November 6 and would only just cling on to a place in the play-offs.