Sam Allardyce laments missed Benteke penalty as Palace bow ends in draw
Sam Allardyce rued Christian Benteke's first-half penalty miss as "the massive turning point" in Watford recovering from a goal down to earn a 1-1 home draw in his first match as Crystal Palace manager.
Allardyce said he was disappointed at missing out on three points, and also expressed his displeasure at the decision to deny Palace a second penalty in the 87th minute when referee Mark Clattenburg booked Wilfried Zaha for diving when he went down in the area despite contact.
At the final whistle Zaha went to applaud the Palace fans who had travelled to Vicarage Road, and Watford's mascot Harry the Hornet produced a comedy dive in front of him. Allardyce said the mascot was "out of order" for mocking his player.
Troy Deeney's second-half penalty had given the striker the 100th Watford goal of his career and cancelled out Yohan Cabaye's 26th-minute finish for Palace.
It was Allardyce's first outing in management since his sacking as England manager earlier this year and three days after his appointment as Alan Pardew's successor and it could so easily have ended with a win had Benteke tucked away the first-half penalty which would have taken his side clear.
Instead, the Belgian's weak effort was saved by Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, who had hacked Benteke down to concede the penalty in the first place.
Asked if Benteke would retain responsibility for penalties after his second miss this season, Allardyce said: "I'll look at that in the week. Missing two out of three is obviously not very good. He's disappointed enough missing it. It happens, doesn't it?
"We have to find somebody who scores them like Mark Noble; one in 26 missed. You've got to convert them. (It was) a massive turning point."
Discussing the Zaha incident, Allardyce added: "That was a penalty. There may be an argument that the first contact is outside the box, but it would have been difficult to judge.
"To get nothing at all, and Wilfried booked, is very disappointing. Grabbing shouldn't be done, so I can't argue against their penalty. (Damien) Delaney shouldn't have grabbed (Sebastian Prodl)."
Asked whether he felt Zaha was being judged on reputation, Allardyce said: "You'll have to ask the referees, ask (referees' chief) Mike Riley. If they are refereeing on reputation and not fact or incident, that's a black mark against them.
"The mascot is out of order, isn't he? If someone is diving, they don't get that angry.
"There's contact. It wasn't given. But missing the penalty was the turning point.
"I was disappointed on the basis of the overall game. When you play away from home and Watford's first shot on target is the goal scored, it shows we were doing the right things, even though we weren't playing as well in the second half as in the first.
"(It's) exciting, really. I don't enjoy games very much as a manager, never have, but it's great to be back in the top league in the world."
Watford manager Walter Mazzarri had caused a surprise in dropping Deeney, his captain, from his starting XI.
"Troy, like every striker in the Premier League, works a lot and sacrifices for his team," he said.
"He lost a bit of his freshness in the last few games, so I gave him a rest to get it back. The fact was we didn't have Isaac Success or Stefano Okaka for many games, so I couldn't rest Troy."
Asked for his take on the mascot incident, Mazzarri added: "Let's laugh altogether about this. Everything doesn't have to be a drama.
"I couldn't see (the Zaha penalty incident) from where I was standing. Believe me, I didn't see that. Or our penalty."