Watford and Everton ended their respective Barclays Premier League losing streaks with a 1-1 draw at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
James McCarthy scored his first goal of the season on the stroke of half-time before Jose Holebas responded almost immediately when he headed home a corner for the hosts.
Everton enjoyed the better of the chances in the second half – Romelu Lukaku struck the crossbar in the closing moments – but they failed to turn their advantage into a much-needed three points.
Quique Sanchez Flores made five changes to the side that was thumped at Arsenal while Gareth Barry, back from suspension, replaced Tom Cleverley for the visitors.
Leighton Baines also kept his place in the Everton side after issuing an apology to manager Roberto Martinez for saying the Toffees lacked chemistry following their defeat against Manchester United.
But it was clear which party had the full support from the travelling Everton support after they unfurled two banners prior to kick-off, one which read “Baines is one of us”, while the other said “Martinez out”.
Aside from their respective runs to the semi-final of the FA Cup, both sides headed into Saturday’s fixture on the back of a torrid run. The hosts had lost their last four matches, while Everton had tasted defeat in their last three league outings. And it showed in the opening period with both teams lacking confidence.
The first real chance of the game came after 17 minutes when Jose Manuel Jurado drifted in from the right-hand side before unleashing a curling left-footed effort at the Everton goal. Joel Robles, at full stretch, tipped his shot round for a corner.
Moments later, Gerard Deulofeu called Heurelho Gomes into action after his shot from the edge of the area drew a fine save from the Watford goalkeeper.
The game appeared to be heading towards a goalless first-half, but when Miguel Britos was caught dithering on a long header forward from John Stones, McCarthy dispossessed the Watford defender to open the scoring 45 minutes in.
The Toffees were still celebrating their goal when a backpass from Stones was hit behind for a needless corner by Robles. Holebas leapt highest from the ensuing set-piece and his header hit Seamus Coleman before finding its way into the roof of the Everton net. A game devoid of chances and goals suddenly had two in as many minutes. The half-time whistle was greeted by jeers from the frustrated Everton fans.
The second period continued in much the same vein as the first with both sides failing to create many chances.
After 55 minutes, Aaron Lennon evaded two challenges before unleashing a low shot which was smothered by Gomes. Lukaku looked set to pounce before Gomes managed to scramble the ball away from danger.
Lukaku and Lennon were involved again midway through the second half when the Belgian’s backheel fell to his team-mate whose shot drew another decent stop from Gomes.
Substitute Kevin Mirallas’ late free kick was then turned away by Gomes, and Lukaku seemed certain to score from the follow-up, only to see his effort hit the crossbar. Ben Watson then thought he had won it in the closing moments, but a terrific flying save from Gobles denied the Watford midfielder.