Watford’s slow start against Manchester City undermined a spirited effort, according to Andre Gray.

The Hornets went down to a 3-1 defeat against the runaway Premier League leaders and were behind to Raheem Sterling’s strike with just 39 seconds played.

A second followed when Christian Kabasele turned into his own net in the 13th minute and Watford, despite a spirited response and Gray’s second half effort, never recovered.

Watford are not the first side to suffer at the hands of City and Gray says the Hornets’ slow start only made life harder for Marco Silva’s side.

“We gave ourselves a mountain to climb conceding two in 15 minutes but think we managed to stay in the game and in the second half we gave ourselves a bit of a chance,” Gray said.

“It is difficult because it is hard to decide to stick or twist with City, whether you go pressing or sit and we sat off them.

“They picked us off and in hindsight we maybe should have pressed them early on. It is difficult because they have answers for most things, so it was disappointing to let them score in under a minute.”

While City were undoubtedly deserving winners, Watford did have their chances and Gray looked sharp after being recalled for the ill Stefano Okaka.

He forced two first half saves from Ederson before scoring his first goal since the 3-0 win over Newcastle United at the end of November.

The strike is only his third since a record £18.5 million move to Vicarage Road and Gray has had to accept being regularly rotated.

Gray is eager to play as regularly as possible and hopes his latest strike can provide a timely confidence boost.

“I always want to score and against teams like this chances are hard to come by, so I had to keep believing and doing the right things,” the former Burnley man said.

“Hopefully more can come and the thing that is always said with strikers is that if you are not getting the chances that is the time to worry. I think I have had the two today and scored one.

“When I did have a run of games I probably didn’t score as much as I would like to and certain games are built for certain players.

“It is frustrating and I want to play every game but I have to perform and put the ball in the back of the net.”