With just over half an hour to play on Saturday Watford’s Premier League meeting with Everton was meandering towards a bore draw.

Not a terrible result for either side by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly not the three points the Hornets craved to alleviate some of the pressure surrounding their top flight status.

Step forward Javi Gracia and two substitutions which would turn the tide of the game in Watford’s favour and leave them six points clear of the drop at full-time.

Games at this level are often shaped by changes from the bench and Gracia deserves huge credit for the introduction of Stefano Okaka and Kiko Femenia.

The duo replaced the ineffectual Richarlison and Roberto Pereyra and would combine soon after in the build up to Troy Deeney’s winner – Femenia playing in Okaka and the forward crossing for his partner.

Femenia had already tested Jordan Pickford with a low drive and Gracia’s decision to deploy him as a winger provides further indication of the bold strokes with which the head coach paints his canvas.

Introducing a second striker in place of Richarlison with a reasonable chunk of the game to play – something unheard of under Marco Silva – gives further weight still to argument Gracia is a more flexible boss.

Indeed his willingness to withdraw an underperforming Richarlison, who was every bit the golden boy of Silva’s Watford, is nothing new.

The Brazilian is yet to complete 90 minutes in the league under Gracia, playing 68, 65, 82 and 56 minutes in his four games to date.

Richarlison is a fine player but his influence has waned as the season has gone on and at 20 he still needs protecting in his first season in the English game.

While substitutions provided the turning point of a drab game on Saturday, perhaps the biggest indication Gracia will not dodge the big decisions came before kick-off.

With Heurelho Gomes fit again the easy option would have been to reintroduce the stalwart stopper to the starting XI in place of Orestis Karnezis who had performed well in his stead.

Instead, Gracia kept faith in a player who has done little to let him down over the past month and was repaid with a display culminating in a stoppage-time save as Everton pushed for a leveller.

When you consider the lot Gracia inherited when he took over a Watford squad on its knees with injury, you can only praise the task he has performed so far.

The same issues blighted Silva during his ill-fated tenure, but the flexible manner in which his successor has dealt with them has played an important part in lifting the clouds which gathered under the Portuguese.

Continuing to do so will surely only serve to aid the Hornets in their ongoing fight for survival.