WHERE do you reckon Matt Ritchie fits in the history of Newcastle United? In the all-time top 100? Top 500?

The Scotland winger doesn’t like the constant comparisons with past teams and insists on living in the right now, which is fair enough.

Especially when no-one personifies the present under Rafa Benitez the manager and Mike Ashley the owner than the 29-year-old former Bournemouth man.

It was his cross that led to Salomon Rondon’s powerful headed opener in the 29th minute after Christian Atsu had created space with a 180 degree turn worthy of a more edifying occasion than this one.

But for the majority of the 90 minutes Ritchie was a willing worker as left wing-back. With the emphasis on the back bit; Newcastle’s defence had five people in it once again.

“Matt is a worker, he has enough quality to make these kind of deliveries and assists,” Benitez said. “He can score goals but he is always committed and working hard in every training session and during the games.

“I had a conversation with him before the game and I think he’s learning a lot. I’m sure he will be a better player every week as he is listening and trying to understand what is going on. You need winners and competitive people and he is one of those.”

Once again, Newcastle fans are digesting news that Mike Ashley, the Newcastle owner, has seemingly rejected an offer to end his unhappy tenure with a consortium led by former Manchester United and Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon told they are still short by £100m.

Ashley remains on holiday and a transfer window that Benitez is already too depressed to talk about will have opened before he returns.

Victory at Vicarage Road would have gone a long way to cheer the substantial away support on the way back and keep United well away from the drop zone their manager had declared would require a miracle to avoid in May.

It almost happened but with eight minutes remaining the run of Hornets substitute Abdoulaye Doucoure was not tracked and the substitute headed home Gerard Deulofeu’s cross.

Deulofeu and Rondon had been key men in a first half in which the two assistant referees were both busy.

Will Hughes set up Deulofeu for an early run into the box that saw no penalty awarded as Paul Dummett challenged to send the Spaniard turfwards.

Then it was Rondon’s turn at the other end but the early raising of a flag meant his despatching of the ball into the Watford net was never going to count, even though it appeared that ex-Newcastle defender Daryl Janmaat might well have played him on.

Deulofeu was back again after a flag that seemingly should have been raised but goalkeeper Martin Dubravka did well to block the resulting shot with his legs.

Rondon outjumped Adam Masina to head Newcastle in front just before the half-hour mark and the Venezuelan had the ball in the net again five minutes before the break but this time was correctly flagged offside.

The second half was a slog as Newcastle tried and failed to hold on to that lead. Watford manager Javi Gracia, having made six changes in the first place, made a double sustitution before the hour by sending on Doucoure and striker Troy Deeney.

Newcastle were content to counter when possible but DeAndre Yedlin burst forwards on the right to reach the Watford box he found zero options had come with him and his cross came to nothing.

The last 20 minutes were the swapping of scraps: Ritchie launched a long-ranger at Ben Foster, Deeney headed straight at Dubravka, Doucoure made it 1-1, Yedlin thumped a drive just wide and was then involved in a tussle with Roberto Pereyra in the Newcastle box that referee Roger East decided required no intervention.

Doucoure had the chance to win it for Watford but shouldered wide from another position that looked offside.

And that was that. The end of Benitez’s 125th game in charge left Newcastle to ponder what might have been and contemplate Wednesday’s visit of Manchester United. Which will soon be followed by jousts with Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham.