Watford were unable to end pre-season on a winning note as they let a two-goal advantage slip and had to settle for a 2-2 draw against French top-flight side Lorient at Vicarage Road.

Troy Deeney celebrated the sixth anniversary of his Hornets debut by crashing home a penalty in first-half injury time before a delightful chip from Odion Ighalo rounded off a good breakaway move just short of the hour put the hosts in command.

But the two-goal advantage was to be shortlived – Zargo Toure netting a superb free-kick from 25 yards – before the Hornets rearguard was unpicked by a fine move started and finished Romain Philippoteaux.

Walter Mazzarri’s men may feel they should have dealt better with that second goal, but there were positives for the Hornets to take into next week’s Premier League opener at Southampton.

They generally looked more certain defensively, both as a three and a four-man unit after Mazzarri changed formation midway through the first half, while the understanding with Jose Holebas and Ikechi Anya was better than at Queens Park Rangers last weekend.

The hosts also used the diagonal ball well at times to vary the point of their attacks, but there were other occasions when promising situations foundered due to the requisite quality and composure not quite being there. There were no real surprises in Mazzarri’s selection for the last friendly with the possible exception of Adlene Guedioura, who was given the opportunity to stake his claim in the middle of the central midfield trio.

The Hornets started brightly and had their first effort in the fourth minute when a long ball forward from Craig Cathcart was cushioned back down by the head of Deeney and Etienne Capoue struck a rising first-time effort from 25 yards high and wide.

The hosts did have some early teething problems, with passes not finding their intended destination and the occasional misunderstanding at times, but their next opening was to come in the 15th minute when Capoue clipped a ball over the top to Ighalo. Watford’s top scorer from last season took a moment to get his feet sorted out on the edge of a six-yard box before his attempted finish was blocked back to him. The Nigerian international then attempted to pick out Deeney, but the ball was half cleared to Guedioura, whose piledriver was also blocked.

Little of note from an attacking perspective before play stopped for a drinks break midway through the half. And at that point Mazzarri decided to shake things up after the centre-half signalled to the bench that he was feeling his back. Off came the Northern Ireland international but, perhaps surprisingly, his place was taken by Isaac Success as Watford switched to a 4-3-3 shape.

But it was the French Ligue 1 outfit who were to have the clearest opportunity of the game to date soon after when Benjamin Moukandjo was slipped in behind the Hornets backline, but Heurelho Gomes read the midfielder’s intentions and saved low to his right.

The diagonal ball had been a particular feature of Watford’s first-half play and in the 35th minute Ben Watson swept a cross-field pass out to Success on the left flank and the former Granada striker came inside before hitting a low right-footed drive which Lorient goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte safely held.

Soon after another Hornets move saw Ighalo and Capoue combine to move the ball out to the right where Ikechi Anya’s cross was deflected up and then headed clear to the edge of the area where Watson struck a first-time half-volley over the top.

But Gomes was called into action again two minutes before the break to parry a stinging drive from midfielder Carlos Miguel Cafu after striker Majeed Waris had shown neat footwork to close in from the left-hand side of the 18-yard box and jink his way past Sebastian Prodl.

Back came Watford though, with Capoue forcing Lecomte into another stop with a good drive from outside the box before Success rounded the Lorient keeper and, from an acute angle, tried to pull the ball back for a teammate but no-one in a yellow shirt was in the six-yard box.

But the Hornets were to take a lead into the interval after Toure blocked off Jose Holebas’ run into the box from the left with a clumsy challenge and Deeney did the rest from 12 yards, emphatically firing past Lecomte to make it 1-0.

Watford began the second half how they had finished the first – positively - attacking straight from the kick off before the business end of the move saw Ighalo slip the ball to his left for Success to try a right-footed curler which was blocked.

Lecomte was forced into another save by Holebas before a good Success cross from the left narrowly eluded two teammates in the middle. But the Hornets were to double their lead in fine style in the 58th minute when they broke downfield and Capoue slipped a pass to his left where Ighalo advanced before deliciously clipping a lob over Lecomte to make it 2-0.

Valon Behrami replaced Watson before played restarted but Lorient were to halve the deficit in exquisite fashion soon after; Toure cracking a sweely-struck free-kick from 25 yards that arrowed past the helpless Gomes into the top right corner and the quality of the strike rightly drew an approving round of applause from those watching on in the Elton John Stand.

Abdoulaye Doucoure replaced Guedioura in the 66th minute before Watford had a good chance to net a third when they were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the Lorient box, but Success curled his right-footed effort beyond the far post.

Within two minutes, Lorient were to be level and it was another fine goal; Philippoteaux working a give-and-go with Mesloud, who clipped the ball back over the Hornets backline and the midfielder ran on to delicately lift the ball beyond Gomes and make it 2-2.

Jerome Sinclair replaced Success with 16 minutes remaining after Prodl had met a Holebas corner from the left well with his head, but nodded over the top.

Deeney’s afternoon came to an end four minutes later as he made way for Matej Vydra but the Hornets’ positivity in chancing their arm from distance continued moments later as Doucoure’s strike from the edge of the area was held by Lecomte.

Juan Camilo Zuniga was also given a late run out as a promising display from Anya came to a premature close, but there was to be a concerning sight before the end as Capoue went off holding his left thigh following a challenge. Mario Suarez took his place as the game ended all-square.

Watford: Gomes; Cathcart (Success 28, Sinclair 74)), Prodl, Britos; Anya (Zuniga 81), Watson (Behrami 60), Guedioura (Doucoure 66), Capoue (Suarez 87), Holebas; Deeney (Vydra 78), Ighalo. Not used: Pantilimon, Arlauskis, Nyom, Kabsele, Hoban, Amrabat.

Lorient: Lecomte; Rose, Toure, Lautoa, Le Goff (Koffi 74); Moukandjo (Selemani 77), Cafu (Ben Khemis 81), Bellugou (Marveaux 63) Mesloud, Philippoteaux (Barthelme 81); Waris (Hamel 89). Not used: Delecroix.

Referee: Jonathan Moss.