Albion 1 Watford 1

Adrian Mariappa’s ridiculous own goal will probably not, on its own, decide the fate of these two teams.

Nor will the generosity of the men from East London bearing gifts in Albion’s previous fixture.

But, for all the Seagulls’ good intentions, hard work and tactical flexibility in those two games, their current situation would be altogether more alarming without those helping hands.

They go into their first winter break with a bit of breathing space over the drop zone.

But that run of four matches against sides below them in the table has passed them by with just three points gathered.

If there is any solace to be taken from those results, it is that the three points came from draws rather than a win.

That, by extension, means three rivals have been denied points.

And there is also the feeling that, undeserved as it would have been, the haul could easily have been worse.

Still, that it is not a lot to calm nerves during this two-week gap between fixtures.

West Ham was a bit of an adrenalin rush at the time, a release from the gloom, given the way Albion came from 3-1 down, although even then a more reflective view was one of two points dropped.

It is certainly hard to come away from the Amex after matches right now not feeling that mix of disappointment, dis-satisfaction and impatience which only be eased by a rousing victory or two.

Head coach Graham Potter accepts that and knows his side are doing all they can to put it right.

He said: “It is always a concern when you don’t win.

“Apart from the Bournemouth game – and even then in the first 30 minutes we were really good – we are in the other games.

“There is some good play, the margins aren’t going in our favour. We have to keep working, to turn that around. No one else is going to do it for us.

“That is why I am happy with the players and our performances.

“We have had two challenging situations, at West Ham and today (Saturday) and we have shown character and personality. That is really important.”

Maybe the wider expectation of a win is no good thing.

(And I suggest that aware that many of the ex-pros and pundits whose views could be heard or read in the media on Friday were predicting a Watford success at the Amex).

Perhaps the victories will come when not anticipated by those outside the camp.

That has certainly been the case before this season.

Spurs at home, Arsenal away, Everton from 2-1 down. Watford on the opening day.

There was an own goal leg-up that day at Vicarage Road too, from Abdoulaye Doucoure.

He made amends in no uncertain manner this time after Albion’s attempt to play their way through the lines broke down.

It had started well. There was a little ripple after some neat passing involving Davy Propper helped them regain control of the ball.

Aaron Mooy seemed to be taking a touch too long to get his feet sorted out as he then tried to play forward.

Still, when his poor pass was blocked just inside the Watford half, there was still plenty for the visitors to do.

Doucoure made ground down the inside-left channel, declined a prompt to go outside Shane Duffy and instead cut in before catching his shot with unfeasible venom, almost as if he had hit it twice.

Replays later showed a little bobble which allowed him to catch the ball a couple of inches off the ground. Maty Ryan stood no chance.

That 19th-minute strike was about as far as Watford went as an attacking threat.

Nigel Pearson’s visitors survived a penalty shout when Ezequiel Schelotto and Gerard Deulofeu came together and then sat back in the second half and prepared to frustrate their hosts.

And that they did. Albion dominated possession but had most of it in front of the Watford defence.

Their effort was unquestioned and their passing often thoughtful but they struggled to get in behind.

They rang changes and all three subs made a difference.

In particular, Steven Alzate’s poise under pressure helped open space for others.

But they only twice got Watford out of their comfort zone and turning to look back to Ben Foster, the keeper who saved them here last season. Okay, maybe three occasions. A low cross or shot by Schelotto probably also counts, even though Glenn Murray was not that close to getting to it at the far post.

In hindsight, maybe Murray’s far-post run and slide on that occasion was in the back of Mariappa’s mind when he decided he needed to cut out the similar low cross delivered by Alireza Jahanbakhsh in the 79th minute.

In fact, Murray had checked his run and waited for a cutback this time but Mariappa stuck out a foot and found his own top corner.

Point saved – and Albion looked the team who wanted to win the match late on without having the guile to do so.

The other occasion Watford were turned? When Neal Maupay’s neat touch got Mooy in for a shot which Foster saved with his foot just before the equaliser.

When Foster gathered one final misdirected pass at the end of six added minutes, he lay on the ball, rested his head on it like a pillow, took his time and allowed the last few seconds to tick away.

He looked happy with a point as did a smiling Pearson as he shook hands with Potter.

Arguably the result suited Albion more but it did not feel like that.

The one consolation is it could have been worse.