The Hornets bowed out of the Carabao Cup tonight and they can have few complaints. They were beaten fair and square by a hungrier, sharper and busier Newport County side who claimed their second Championship scalp of the competition.
Head Coach Vladimir Ivić rung the changes following the energy-sapping draw at Sheffield Wednesday and ahead of the first derby in 14 years on Saturday and got the sort of disjointed first-half performance you can often get when eight of the starting 11 had only six Watford starts before the game.
They didn't quite give themselves a mountain to climb by conceding twice in the space of ten first-half minutes, but it was certainly the steepest of hills in a part of the world renowned for its ascents and valleys. Although they had a bit of a go at the start of the second half, sparked by a tactical and personnel switch by Ivić, and pulled one back through Adalberto Peñaranda from the spot just before the hour, Watford could have few complaints about their exit from the league knockout competition. A third goal, from Pardaig Amond, on 65 minutes killed off any hopes of a second successive escape act in this competition. A bad night got worse when Stipe Perica was sent off late on for violent conduct.