Football: Minds elsewhere as Watford and Everton draw

Watford's Ben Watson shakes hands with Everton's James McCarthy after the game.
Watford's Ben Watson shakes hands with Everton's James McCarthy after the game.PHOTO: REUTERS

WATFORD, United Kingdom (AFP) - Watford and Everton continue to limp towards the finish line in the Premier League after sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

James McCarthy gave Everton the lead on the stroke of half-time, but Watford were back on level terms before first-half stoppage time was up thanks to a Jose Holebas goal.

The result leaves Watford without a win in six games and Everton on a run of four matches without tasting victory, as both sides continue to languish in the bottom half but a safe distance from the relegation zone.

Indeed, the main focus for these clubs now is the FA Cup, and they could meet in the final after being kept apart in the draw for the semi-finals, which will be played later this month.

Nevertheless, both teams will need to improve their recent league form if they are to stand a chance of glory in that competition after a largely forgettable encounter here.

Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores admitted his team needed to "change the mentality" from thinking solely about the FA Cup and they were first to threaten, Jose Jurado seeing his shot well saved by his former Atletico Madrid colleague Joel Robles in the Everton goal.

Roberto Martinez's side have been beaten only twice on the road in the Premier League this season and they opened the scoring as the interval approached.

Miguel Britos was one of five players brought into the Watford team after last week's 4-0 defeat at Arsenal and he was at fault, getting caught in possession on the edge of the box by McCarthy, who stole the ball and then fired low past Heurelho Gomes.

Martinez will be furious that his team failed to hold onto their lead until the break, with Watford equalising when Robles conceded a cheap corner from which Holebas headed in at the back post.

The Toffees came closest to winning the game in the second half but Gomes saved from Aaron Lennon before reacting well to clear before Romelu Lukaku could convert the follow-up.

Lukaku passed up another chance late on when he shot high and wide after a Kevin Mirallas free-kick came off the wall and into his path, the Belgian striker's recent goal drought coinciding with Everton's slump.