Watford sit seventh in the Premier League table this evening after their patience was finally rewarded by a Michael Dawson own goal that was enough to beat Hull City 1-0.

The decisive moment that arrived with eight minutes of normal time remaining owed a little to good fortune but in truth the Hornets made hard work of what could have been a far more convincing victory had they taken their chances beforehand.

The hosts started with a ferocious intensity and twice went very close to taking the lead in the early stages as Younes Kaboul crashed a header against the crossbar from a corner and Roberto Pereyra shaved the outside of the post with a fine long-range curling effort.

The Hornets were, unsurprisingly, unable to maintain that high-octane approach in the opening period, but they always looked capable of threatening in attack and spurned another two clear opportunities in the latter stages of the opening half as an unmarked Sebastian Prodl headed down and wide before Troy Deeney inexplicably missed the target from barely two yards out following a delivery from Nordin Amrabat.

The Moroccan was his side’s stand-out performer and subjected Sam Clucas to a torrid afternoon and the consistency of his deliveries matched the number of times he beat the beleaguered Tigers wing-back, his side may have been home and dry long before the 82nd minute.

The home side were unable to replicate the quality of the opportunities they created in the first half after the break, but with eight minutes remaining substitute Daryl Janmaat played in a cross which Roberto Pereyra attempted to get a flick on and the ball ricocheted off the Hull skipper and into his own net.

Walter Mazzarri made just the one change from the side that drew 0-0 at Swansea City last time out with Amrabat replacing Camilo Zuniga at right wing-back. The fit-again Janmaat was, as expected, in the match-day 18 but had to settle for a place on the bench.

Hull picked up a morale-boosting 2-1 win over Bristol City in midweek to reach the last eight of the EFL Cup, but Mike Phelan’s selection showed three changes from the team which suffered a fifth consecutive Premier League defeat against Stoke City last weekend.

Harry Maguire, Ryan Mason and Markus Henriksen all started against the Robins and kept their places in the side, with Robert Snodgrass, who was injured, Tom Huddlestone and David Meyler making way from the starting XI that went down against Mark Hughes’ men.

Watford raced out of the blocks straight from the kick off with Pereyra bursting forward before feeding Amrabat, who clipped in a left-footed cross which was glanced on and fell just beyond Deeney, who was attempting to keep the ball in at the far post.

The pulsating start continued with Etienne Capoue seeing a long-range effort deflected behind and, from the resulting corner, David Marshall was adjudged to have carried an angled effort from Younes Kaboul behind his own goalline.

The Hornets had already set out their stall and from the next corner they came within inches of taking the lead as Pereyra’s inswinging delivery from the left was met with a superb header from Kaboul that crashed against the bar with Marshall well beaten.

The pressure was unrelenting as Hull were unable to clear their lines and Pereyra was the next to go close with an excellent right-footed curler from 25 yards that clipped the outside of the post as it went narrowly wide.

Amrabat was already having plenty of joy in the early stages, having the beating of Clucas almost at will, and he teed up the next opportunity for Valon Behrami, who saw his right-footed strike saved at the foot of his near post by Marshall.

The Tigers were finally able to gain some respite after that breathless start and began to gain some useful spells of possession in the opposition half, although the Hornets were not helping themselves at times by giving the ball away.

Mason had Hull’s first meaningful attempt of the afternoon shortly before the 20-minute mark with a right-footed strike, but the diving Heurleho Gomes always had it covered.

Watford were soon back on the front foot but were unable to fashion an opportunity and it was Will Keane who had the next effort with an ambitious strike from range that dropped a couple of feet over Gomes’ crossbar.

Deeney’s first effort of the encounter came in the 32nd minute when he stabbed a shot wide from the edge of the penalty area after Odion Ighalo managed to cushion the ball back despite being clearly held back by Dawson. But referee Jon Moss decided he’d played enough of an advantage and awarded a goal kick to the home side’s frustration.

Another chance came and went for the home side five minutes later when Prodl started an attack by striding forward from his own half and was in the opposition 18-yard box when Amrabat sent over his latest cross over, but the Austrian centre-half sent a clear header down and wide.

That was a good chance but a gilt-edged one was spurned three minutes before the break when after Pereyra’s attempted cut back had been partially headed clear, Amrabat drilled the ball into the ground and towards the far post only for Deeney, who was possibly distracted by the presence of Ighalo, to head down and over from barely two yards out on the angle.

Ighalo then pulled a shot wide of Marshall’s right-hand upright from the edge of the area as the Hornets ended the opening period on top but hoping they wouldn’t be made to rue passing up at least three clear-cut chances.

It was Watford’s right that was again yielded their first opening of the second half when Pereyra sent Amrabat free before the Moroccan returned the ball to the former Juventus man, who lifted a shot over the target.

But there is always the chance when a team doesn’t take its chances that it will be made to pay and that almost happened from Marshall’s resultant goal kick. Prodl was beaten to the header as he attempted to meet the clearance and Abel Hernandez got away from the dwelling Miguel Britos, but his finish was telegraphed and tame and Gomes was able to save.

Behrami was the first player to cause Moss to reach for his notebook for a crunching lunge on Clucas, having failed to get the benefit of a decision moments earlier. But soon after the Hornets swept forward on the counter as Pereyra picked out Ighalo with a fine cross-field pass, the Nigerian was unable to get away from his man but laid the ball off to Deeney, who saw his shot blocked.

The card count was soon levelled up when Mason saw yellow for a trip on Capoue and he was quickly joined by Clucas after he hauled back a full-charging Amrabat.

Capoue struck a rising effort from distance after Jose Holebas had pulled the ball back to the Frenchman in a central position as the home side continued to press, with Amrabat continuing to look the player most likely to make something happen. And it was the Moroccan who did indeed create the next chance, floating in a cross which a stretching Ighalo headed over the top.

Mazzarri made his first change with 18 minutes of normal time remaining and it was a positive one with Janmaat making his return from injury in place of Kaboul. The former Newcastle United man took up the same position as the player he replaced but was almost immediately bursting forward and feeding Deeney, who forced Hull to concede their latest corner.

Phelan made his first substitution in the 78th minute as Meyler replaced Keane but it was starting to look like it would be one of those days until three minutes later when the Hornets got the break they needed.

Unsurprisingly the goal originated from the Hornets’ right and this time it was Janmaat who played in a low delivery which Pereyra attempted to flick on and the ball struck the helpless Dawson and looped into the net past the stranded Marshall to make it 1-0.

Mazarri brought on Zuniga and Christian Kabasele for Amarbat, who was rightly afforded a rapturous ovation, and Prodl. But in between times Ighalo almost made it two when he worked some space to the right of centre of the 18-yard box before hitting a right-footed drive which crashed into the side netting.

Four minutes of injury time still afforded Hull hope though, and two minutes in Curtis Davies met a corner from the right with a firm header that wasn’t too far wide of the near post as the Tigers suffered a sixth straight top-flight loss.

Watford: Gomes; Kaboul (Janmaat 72), Prodl (Kabasele 86), Britos; Amrabat (Zuniga 84), Pereyra, Behrami, Capoue, Holebas; Deeney, Ighalo. Not used: Pantilimon, Guedioura, Sinclair, Watson.

Hull City: Marshall; Maguire, Dawson, Davies; Elmohamady, Henriksen (Bowen 89), Livermore, Mason, Clucas; Keane (Meyler 78), Hernandez. Not used: Jakupovic, Huddlestone, Maloney, Weir, Tymon.

Bookings: Behrami for a foul on Clucas (53); Mason for a foul on Capoue (57); Clucas for a foul on Amrabat (60).

Attendance: Referee: Jon Moss.