Leeds United manager Simon Grayson has tipped goalkeeper Alex McCarthy for the top after describing his 89th-minute penalty save as the turning point which allowed his side to rescue a 1-1 draw against Watford with the last kick of the game.
Watford were already leading 1-0 at Vicarage Road through Michael Kightly’s strike when Marvin Sordell stepped up to take his penalty with one minute of normal time remaining, but on-loan Reading goalkeeper McCarthy tipped his effort on to the post.
The former England Under-21 shot-stopper, whose loan ended on December 10, then denied Mark Yeates before Leeds were awarded a penalty with the three minutes of injury time already up. Robert Snodgrass stepped up to secure a point for the visitors.
“We probably didn’t deserve the point if you look at our performance,” Grayson said.
“The big turning point was the penalty save and it gave us a chance to get something out of the game and it is great that the players had the determination to go until the end.
“Alex’s loan finished today and I spoke to (Reading manager) Brian McDermott on Friday about his performances and we said we would talk after the weekend.
“I am not saying we will re-sign him, that is down to Reading and also what we decide to do as well. What I will say is that he has been outstanding for us and we are thankful to Reading for letting him come and he has shown all the potential and promise that he will be a top goalkeeper in the future.”
There was little to separate the sides in the first half but it was Watford who led at the break as they counter-attacked with pace and on-loan Wolves midfielder Kightly finished with style from 20 yards.
The Hornets were comfortable for the majority of the second half and could have secured the victory through Sordell’s 89th-minute penalty, after he was brought down by Patrick Kisnorbo, and Yeates’ late strike.
Leeds substitute Mika Vayrynen then went down in the box under a challenge from Nyron Nosworthy and Snodgrass snatched an equaliser.
Watford boss Sean Dyche refused to blame referee Eddie Ilderton for the penalty decision and concentrated on his side’s display.
He said: “I don’t feel robbed because that is the reality of football; it can spin on a knife edge.
“One tiny moment and a refereeing decision changed the feel of it but the performance was good from us throughout and I am disappointed not to take all three points.
“I thought it was a soft penalty, and I have seen it again, but referees have a very tough job.
“Obviously you are always disappointed if those key decisions do not go your way but that is all it is, people can decide themselves. You have seen them given and you have seen them not given.”