Javi Gracia praises ‘brilliant’ Ben Foster as Watford hold Brighton to draw

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Watford head coach Javi Gracia says he was not surprised by the standout performance of record-breaking goalkeeper Ben Foster during the goalless draw at Brighton.

Ex-England keeper Foster earned the below-par Hornets a point at the Amex Stadium with a string of fine stops.

The 35-year-old overtook Arsenal’s Petr Cech as the keeper with the most saves in Premier League history since records began following Wednesday’s defeat at Tottenham.

And his tally now stands at 1,012 after a man-of-the-match display in which he twice denied headers from Albion forward Jurgen Locadia as well as keeping out efforts from Shane Duffy and Florin Andone.

“Nothing different than other games,” Gracia said of his number one. “Today in the second half when Brighton played better was the moment when Ben saved us but it’s not a surprise.

“I know he’s a very good keeper and a very important player for us. It’s nothing that I didn’t know.

“I think all of you know maybe better than me Ben Foster.

“He has a brilliant career and now I think he is enjoying (his time) with us. He’s working day by day always with a smile on his face, with a very good character, and I think it’s good for the rest of the team.

“There is no other secret than hard work every day, his mentality, his attitude every day in every training session. With that attitude I think he can play a long time.”

Despite a relatively uneventful draw in which they created little, the Hornets climbed to eighth place and above Everton on the back of the result.

Spaniard Gracia saw his side fail to register an attempt on target during a bitterly cold afternoon on the south coast and admitted they were poor in attack.

“Today offensively we didn’t play well,” he added. “We had some moments in possession but we weren’t aggressive offensively. It wasn’t enough to create chances.

“We tried different ways but our mechanisms of attack, we didn’t find the way to attack.”

A frustrating afternoon for Brighton extended their winless run in the top-flight to five matches as they continue their quest for survival.

Locadia managed the only attempt on target in a dour first half with a close-range header which was clawed behind by Foster.

The £14million Dutchman went even closer when his fizzing flicked header was tipped over by Foster 10 minutes from time, before the keeper unconventionally kept of an acrobatic effort from Duffy with his feet moments later, and then smothered onrushing substitute Andone.

Albion boss Chris Hughton, who is still waiting for a first league win in 2019, felt his team did enough for all three points and praised the “outstanding” Foster.

“It’s a game we should have won, a game we deserved to win,” said Hughton. “But we came up against a goalkeeper that made three very, very good saves.

“He was at Birmingham for a short period of time when I went there, so I’ve always known the quality of the keeper and I think that he’s been outstanding this season.

“I was hoping that he wouldn’t be so good today but I think he’s a top, top-class goalkeeper.”

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