WATFORD, England (AP) - Former England coach Sam Allardyce was denied victory in his first game back in club management, with his Crystal Palace team conceding a second-half penalty to draw 1-1 at Watford in the English Premier League on Monday.
Troy Deeney scored from the spot in the 71st minute for his 100th goal for Watford, earning the hosts a point after their second-half rally at Vicarage Road.
Allardyce took over at relegation-threatened Palace on Friday - three months after losing his England job - as a replacement for the fired Alan Pardew and he was given the ideal start when Yohan Cabaye scored in the 26th minute.
In what proved to be a game that hinged on two penalties, Palace wasted a chance to go 2-0 ahead in the 37th when Christian Benteke had a penalty saved by Heurelho Gomes after being fouled by the Watford goalkeeper.
Deeney made no mistake when he got his chance from the spot after Sebastian Prodl was bundled over by his marker, Damien Delaney, at a corner. Defending at set pieces was a problem for Palace under Pardew and Allardyce hasn’t been able to rectify that issue in his very short time in charge.
“Two points dropped, for me, which is in some ways encouraging away from home in my first game,” Allardyce said. “We played very well today and it’s our own fault we didn’t win three points.”
The first game of Allardyce’s return ended in bizarre fashion, with Watford mascot Harry the Hornet producing a comedy dive in front of Wilfried Zaha as the Palace winger applauded the away fans after the final whistle. Zaha had been booked in the game for diving.
“The mascot is out of order, isn’t he?” Allardyce said.
Allardyce spent 67 days in charge of England - and had just one game in charge - before losing his dream job because of unguarded comments he made to undercover reporters in a newspaper sting.
Given his pedigree for keeping teams in the Premier League, he was never likely to be out of management for too long and Palace - on a downward slide under Pardew - soon came calling.
Allardyce didn’t make too many changes to Palace’s typical lineup over Pardew, but might do so if he dips into the January transfer market.
Allardyce has a history of making fast starts to his coaching stints and he had one here, with Palace on top early and deservedly going ahead when Cabaye beat the offside trap to run onto a reverse pass from Andros Townsend and score with an angled shot from inside the area.
Prodl was at fault for the first penalty, under-hitting a back pass that Benteke latched onto by nicking the ball away from Gomes as the goalkeeper swung his leg to clear. Benteke was taken out but got up to take an over-relaxed penalty kick, only for Gomes to guess the right way and save low down to his left. The acrobatic Gomes has saved nine of the 30 penalties he has faced in the Premier League with Tottenham and Watford.
Palace went more defensive in the second half, allowing midtable Watford more of the ball.
Odion Ighalo went close when he pounced on defensive uncertainty by Delaney and shot wide. But Delaney wasn’t so lucky minutes later, losing Prodl at a corner and then dragging back the defender. Deeney, in contrast to Benteke, rammed the penalty down the middle and became the fifth player to score 100 goals for Watford.
Deeney was one of two players to come on as a substitute for Watford in the first 14 minutes, after muscle injuries to right back Daryl Janmaat and center midfielder Valon Behrami.
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