THE Hornets edged closer to the beginning of the 2012/13 campaign after losing out a strong Tottenham Hotspur side at Vicarage Road this afternoon in Lloyd Doyley’s testimonial fixture.
The Premier League side won the match thanks to a single goal from England forward Jermain Defoe 10 minutes into the second half.
Today’s performance will be seen as another step forward though for Gianfranco Zola as many of his senior first-team players completed either 90 minutes or upwards of an hour.
The home side lined up in their now familiar 4-3-3 formation, as did their visitors from north London.
Watford included new signings Daniel Pudil at left back and Manuel Almunia in goal in their starting XI.
Both teams formed a guard of honour as Lloyd Doyley strolled out onto the new Vicarage Road surface with his two young children.
The defender received a rousing reception from both players and supporters.
Pudil’s first appearance at The Vic didn’t last too long when he was substituted after seven minutes with an injury. The Czech international was replaced by fellow defender Carl Dickinson
Both teams were comfortable in possession and after Spurs’ impressive start, the game settled down with both sides seeing plenty of the ball.
The Hornets were sticking to the Head Coach’s instructions as they looked to keep hold of the ball.
Chances were at a premium though during the opening 45 minutes as William Gallas’ powerful header went over Almunia’s bar and Joe Garner’s effort was blocked by a visiting defender.
Spurs made four changes at the break, three outfield switches plus an introduction for Carlo Cudicini in goal.
Vilas-Boas’ men took the lead 10 minutes after the re-start when substitute Kyle Walker’s strong run ended with Defoe’s powerful header from six-yards past the stranded Almunia.
Chris Iwelumo was brought on after 58 minutes in place of Garner. Around the hour-mark the hosts had two good opportunities when Yeates’ run down the right beat Younes Kaboul but he was unable to pick out anyone else, and then the Irishman’s curling drive at goal went the wrong side of Cudicini’s post.
A host of changes for both teams took place in the final 20 minutes but neither side was unable to add to Defoe’s deadly strike.
HORNETS: Almunia; Doyley (c) (Hodson 76), Nosworthy, Taylor, Pudil; Eustace, Hogg (Forsyth 67), Buaben (Massey 78); Yeates, Garner (Iwelumo 58), Murray (Mingoia 84). Subs: Bond (GK), Jenkins, Bennett, Thompson, Smith.
SPURS: Friedel (Cuficini h/time); Naughton (Walker h/time), Gallas (Vertonghen h/time), Kaboul (c), Assou Ekotto; Livermore (Bentley 80), Jenas (Sigurdsson h/time), Carroll (Huddlestone 68); Lennon, Defoe (Kane 67), Bale (Townsend 75). Subs: Bassong, Dawson.
REFEREE: Mr T Kettle