Watford suffered their first defeat of pre-season as a disappointing Hornets performance resulted in a 1-0 defeat against Coventry City at Boreham Wood’s Meadow Park stadium.
Marcus Tudgay struck the winner in the seventh minute for the League One side. Poor defending from the Golden Boys allowed the striker space in the area and he poked his shot past Hereulo Gomes.
Watford created several half chances throughout the contest. Their best effort on goal came from Lewis McGugan in the second period but he was denied by goalkeeper Lee Burge.
While pre-season is mainly about fitness, Beppe Sannino’s side lacked fluency in possession throughout the contest. It will be a worry for the Golden Boys head coach with the Championship campaign starting in only ten days
The Hornets once again lined up in a 4-3-3 formation. Gomes started in goal behind a back four of Lloyd Doyley, Gabriele Angella, Gabriel Tamas and Daniel Pudil.
Daniel Tozser, Almen Abdi and Cristian Battocchio were the midfield three while Matej Vydra led the attack with Lloyd Dyer and Ikechi Anya on the wings.
Watford started brightly and moved the ball at pace. A neat passing move almost freed Dyer before a pass which would’ve put Anya through on goal was intercepted by Andrew Webster.
The Hornets had dominated the opening stages but poor defending allowed Coventry to open the scoring.
Gomes punched clear a free-kick, the ball was worked back to John Fleck who flicked a pass into Tudgay and the striker confidently finished. It was poor defending from Sannino’s men.
The Hornets looked to hit back immediately. Anya lifted a lob over the crossbar after a long ball forward before Abdi collected a pass from Tamas and fired over from 20 yards.
Watford’s early incisive passing dissipated throughout the opening period. The defenders resorted to several aimless long passes forward while promising attacks in the Coventry defensive third broke down.
The Sky Blues continued to create chances. Danny Pugh drilled a half volley wide from a tight angle and Tudgay forced Gomes into a reaction stop with an effort from distance.
Vydra became frustrated as the half progressed and failed to threaten the Coventry defence.
The final opportunity of the half went to Steven Pressley’s side. Shaun Miller collected a throw, was given room to turn and curled a low shot narrowly wide of the post.
Sannino made seven changes to his side at the interval. Troy Deeney, Mathias Ranegie, Sean Murray, Joel Ekstrand, Tommie Hoban, Diego Fabbrini and McGugan replaced Vydra, Battocchio, Abdi, Tamas, Pudil, Anya and Dyer.
Watford created two quick chances. Fabbrini flashed a shot across the six yard box before Ranegie fired wide from distance.
The Hornets persisted with their 4-3-3 shape. Deeney played wide on the right but struggled to make an impact.
Ranegie had replaced Vydra in the centre and he almost equalised with a shot from distance which rolled just past substitute goalkeeper Burge’s left-hand post.
Another chance fell to the Swedish striker but he could only head straight at Burge before McGugan and Murray sent shots into the arms of the goalkeeper.
New Hornets signing Odion Ighalo was introduced with 13 minutes remaining in place of Murray, who appeared to have picked up an injury to his thigh.
Watford had created few clear chances throughout the contest but a wonderful moment of skill from McGugan almost levelled the contest.
He showed great technique to bring down a Deeney pass, evaded the challenge of Ivor Lawton and fired low towards the corner. Unfortunately for the Hornets, his effort was saved by the leg of Burge.
It proved the final opportunity of the contest. For the first time during pre-season the Golden Boys left the pitch beaten.
It wasn’t an inspiring display and Watford supporters will hope there is an improvement from their side against Udinese on Saturday at Vicarage Road.
Watford: Gomes (Bond 58) ; Doyley, Angella, Tamas (Ekstrand HT), Pudil (Hoban HT); Tozser (Andrews 22), Abdi (McGugan HT), Battocchio (Murray HT (Ighalo 77)) Dyer (Fabbrini HT), Vydra (Ranegie HT), Anya (Deeney HT).
Coventry City: Allsop (Burge HT); Willis (Haynes 71), Webster (Lawton 71) Johnson (Seaborne HT); Clarke (Finch 71), Thomas (Barton 71), Fleck (Phillips 71), O'Brien (Swanson 64), Pugh (Daniels 71); Tudgay (Thomas 64), Miller (Maddison 64).