Craig Cathcart says there are plenty of positives to take from Watford’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester United, despite admitting the Hornets were sloppy at Vicarage Road.

Romelu Lukaku made the most of some slack marking to open the scoring in the 35th minute before Chris Smalling doubled to lead three minutes later.

Watford improved in the second period and got back into the game through Andre Gray’s second goal of the season.

They could have stolen a point at the death but Christian Kabasele was denied a leveller by David De Gea’s smart stop.

Cathcart was quick to acknowledge Watford’s first half failings, but believes the way in which they responded offers reason to be optimistic.

The centre-back said: “We were a little bit slow to start but once we got into the game we created some chances and the two goals, and the timing they came at, was a bit of a sucker punch for us.

“We can take positives from the way we reacted and we were not playing against a bad team. They are one of the top teams and we have given them a pretty tough time.”

The defeat saw Watford’s perfect start to the season come to an end after a run of four wins in the Premier League and a triumph in the Carabao Cup.

While the manner in which Watford allowed United to pull away in the first half was disappointing, the Hornets can take heart from their reaction.

The Hornets left the pitch to rapturous applause from the Vicarage Road crowd and Cathcart feels Watford are continuing to progress under Javi Gracia.

That belief stems from defeats against other big six sides last season which saw Watford crumble and lose heavily after going behind.

“We didn’t let our heads go down. There have been times in the past when we have played the top teams and they have scored four or five against us”, Cathcart explained.

“Tonight was a different matter. We wanted to come out and play better in the second half and we did that. Hopefully we can take that momentum into next week.

“How we react to losing will be the first thing we speak about and that will show what we are really about. I am sure we will put in a good performance in training this week and turn things around.”