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Eric Black encouraged by Aston Villa fans' reaction

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Troy Deeney enjoyed his two goals against Aston Villa

Troy Deeney enjoyed his two goals against Aston Villa

Troy Deeney enjoyed his two goals against Aston Villa

Eric Black hopes Aston Villa's players have taken the first tiny step towards repairing their relationship with the fans.

Relegated Villa were once again mocked and jeered by the travelling supporters during the early stages of their clash with Watford.

But by the end they were applauded off the field despite letting a rare victory slip through their fingers as two late Troy Deeney goals gave the hosts a 3-2 win.

"It's a fantastic football club with fantastic supporters and maybe it's just one little step towards getting the supporters back on side," said acting boss Black.

"The players have been criticised, and justifiably so, but not today.

"Ultimately of course you need to win games but there was a lot to be encouraged by."

Villa were leading with just five seconds of normal time remaining thanks to goals from Ciaran Clark and Jordan Ayew, either side of Almen Abdi's free-kick.

But the beleaguered midlanders, who had Aly Cissokho sent off for tripping Ikechi Anya with 15 minutes left, could not hold out as Deeney's double piled on the agony.

The boyhood Birmingham fan loves scoring against Villa more than any other team and celebrated wildly after heading in a Steven Berghuis cross to equalise before lashing in a stoppage-time winner.

It meant a club-record 11th straight defeat for Villa, but Black felt they deserved more.

"It was harsh in some regards," he added.

"I thought the effort of the players was outstanding, they showed desire and hunger but the sending-off changes the whole context of the game.

"At 2-1 up I thought we looked like the team who were going to score again. The key moment is the sending-off."

Hornets boss Quique Sanchez Flores still faces an uncertain future amid rumours he will be replaced in the summer, and defeat to the bottom club would only have added fuel to the fire.

The Spaniard said: "It was i mportant because now mathematically we are (safe) in the Premier League and for Watford that is amazing.

"We deserved to win the match. We had control but we conceded two silly goals and had to work pretty hard. We have to fight against these sort of teams.

"The speculation in many ways is not good for the players. The players always want to focus on the main target and the main target is the match.

"Speculation is not important. What was important was to be competitive."