LLOYD DYER'S goal on the counter-attack after 52 minutes was enough to send 1,860 Hornets' fans home happy from League 2 Stevenage - a Hertfordshire derby victory to send Watford into Round Two of the Capital One Cup after a competitive encounter.
Dyer also hit a post later in the second half, with Boro midfielder Charlie Lee doing the same after just 12 minutes of an ebb-and-flow cup tie in mild August conditions.
Lee's drive came out of the blue early on, in between Fernando Forestieri curling over and Lloyd Dyer stretching to toe-end a quick free-kick just wide of the post.
Watford played 4-4-2 for this one, with Tommie Hoban and Gabriel Tamas occupying the two centre-half positions, the latter and Daniel Pudil the only two players to start both matches of the season so far.
Free-flowing football was the order of the day from the Hornets to begin with but, without a goal to show for their early flourishes, the hosts grew in confidence after Lee's effort and they could lay claim to the best of the territorial dominance towards half-time.
The Golden Boys had become a little circumspect, were less inventive on the ball, and needed the interval to regroup and go again.
The second 45 minutes was different in that Watford exerted a measure of control on the match, even when defending, and the counter-attack goal rewarded a fine sweeping move.
Diego Fabbrini's complete lack of selfishness in front of goal finally set up Dyer for effectively a tap-in after he'd latched onto a Fernando Forestieri through-pass which was weighted to perfection.
Tamas headed away bravely shortly after as the Golden Boys' rear-guard came up with answers every time it was called upon; spectacularly so, in fact, on 65 minutes when Bond sprawled forward off his goal-line to deny Darius Charles at close-range for what goes down as an early 'Save of the Season' contender. Make sure you catch it on the extended Hornets Player highlights.
Boro continued to press their claim for an equaliser right to the end, and keeper Sam Beasant - up for an injury-time corner - headed the host's final chance wide as they bowed out at the hands of Beppe Sannino's men.
Hornets: Bond; Doyley (c) (Ekstrand 29), Tamas, Hoban, Pudil; Fabbrini (Murray 81), Andrews, Munari, Dyer; Forestieri, Ighalo (Vydra 84).
Subs not used: Gomes (GK), Doherty, Smith, Johnson.
Goals: Dyer (52). Yellow Cards: Pudil (52). Red Cards: none.
Boro: Beasant; Dembele, Worley, Bond, Whelpdale, Charles, Pett (Ashton 81), Wells (c), Lee, Okimo (Deacon 56), Marriott (Calcutt 81).Subs not used: Day (GK), Johnson. Goals: none. Yellow Cards: Bond, Dembele, Ashton. Red Cards: none.
Ref: Carl Berry. Att: 3,969 (1,860 Hornets fans)