Watford are propping up the table again after their search for a Premier League home win stretched to a 11th game dating back to last season following a 3-0 defeat to Burnley.

The Hornets will look back on a first half in which they were the better side, but failed to take their chances and were made to pay as the Clarets improved in the second period to claim their first away win of the campaign.

The game had been predictably messy for a large part but it was the visitors who made the breakthrough in the early stages of the second half when the ball was kept in play from a deep corner and Chris Wood hooked in the opener.

Ashley Barnes scored the Clarets’ second from the penalty spot, courtesy of a VAR decision that adjudged he had been fouled by Jose Holebas, and James Tarkowski rubbed salt into the wounds with a late third.

A combination of injury and suspension meant Quique Sanchez Flores was always going to have make two changes from the side that finally got off the mark at Norwich City last time out, but ultimately he was forced into a third.

Adrian Mariappa replaced the suspended Christian Kabasele, Andre Gray came in for hamstring injury victim Roberto Pereyra to line-up against his last club, while the third change was at right wing-back where Kiko Femenia returned in place of Daryl Janmaat, who was ruled out with a knee problem.

The Hornets boss resisted the temptation to put Troy Deeney in from the start but again had him on the bench alongside the fit-again Ismaila Sarr, while Tom Dele-Bashiru also made the match-day 18.

Burnley were also victorious in their last match before the international break, 3-0 at home to West Ham United, and Sean Dyche opted to keep faith with the same starting XI for his latest return to his former club.

The Hornets were made to attack the Rookery in the first half after the Clarets, as has become the norm under Dyche when returning to Vicarage Road, opted to turn them around following the coin toss.

The hosts had the first effort on goal in the fourth minute when Craig Dawson flicked a header harmlessly wide after Gerard Deulofeu had clipped a free-kick into the area.

The opening exchanges were relatively subdued though, although the Hornets did put together a nice one-touch move from back to front that ended with Abdoulaye Doucoure being beaten to a Holebas cross at the far post.

The Clarets boss became truly animated for the first time in the contest in the 15th minute when Tarkowski was penalised for a foul on Will Hughes, but Deulofeu was unable to make the most of the dead-ball delivery from wide on the left when his cross presented Nick Pope with a routine catch.

The England keeper was extended soon after though, blocking a Deiulofeu shot with his legs after the Spaniard had dispossessed Tarkowski and accelerated towards the area before hitting a low drive straight at Pope.

The unlikely figure of Gray picked up the game’s first yellow card in the 25th minute after flooring Tarkowski with a flailing arm, moments after Watford had experienced a good counter-attacking opportunity but Deulofeu was caught in possession.

A lengthy delay followed while Dawson received treatment to his right eye after being caught by Tarkowski as they went up to contest a header before the card count was evened up when Ben Mee saw yellow for protesting the award of a free-kick with too much vigour.

Barnes should have become the third player to be booked soon after when he took out Hughes close to the touchline, but referee Paul Tierney decided a warning was sufficient on this occasion.

Watford were asking an increasing number of questions of their opponents though, and had the next opportunity when Femenia was found in acres of space on the right and his attempted cut back was diverted back towards his own net by Mee, but the grateful Pope was in the right place to make the save.

The Hornets had the Clarets stretched again when more precise build-up play ended with Hughes having a shot blocked behind after being slipped in on the left side of the penalty area by Doucoure.

VAR then had a look at a possible penalty after Mee had blocked a goal-bound shot from Craig Cathcart after Deulofeu had danced round the back of the defence before pulling a cross back.

Dawson needed more treatment to his face in the closing stages of the first half, but with blood streaming from above his eye there was to be no recovery this time round and he was replaced by Adam Masina.

Watford kept pushing in the five minutes of injury time and went close again in the last of those when Deulofeu forced Pope into a good save with a low, curling free-kick after the Spaniard had been blatantly tripped by Tarkowski, ensuring both Burnley centre-halves went into the break on yellow cards.

The Hornets started the second half as they had ended the first, with Etienne Capoue having the first attempt on goal which was deflected high and wide of the target.

The pressure continued with Capoue delivering a cross to the far post which saw Mariappa’s header also deflected behind, but the home side were once again unable to capitalise on the corners.

The Hornets centre-half then did well at the other end, showing strength to hold off Mee and head a a Clarets corner from the left over his own bar.

But Watford were not so fortunate from the resulting set-piece delivery from the opposite side of the pitch. This was again played deep to beyond the back post where Mee held off Holebas to keep the ball In play and Wood reacted first in the six-yard box to hook a finish past Ben Foster to make it 1-0.

Sanchez Flores wasted no time responding, bringing on Deeney for his return to first-team action in place of Gray.

The Hornets were given another opportunity on the hour when Tarkowski was penalised after flying into a challenge on the edge of the D, but Capoue got the free-kick all wrong and cleared the bar by a distance after Ashley Westwood had been booked for delaying the taking of the set piece.

Foster had been relatively quiet in shot-stopping terms but he saved his side in the 64th minute, denying Jeff Hendrick from close range after he had waltzed round a tame challenge from Masina.

The Hornets boss played his final hand two minutes later, bringing on Sarr for Hughes and switching to a 4-3-3 formation. Soon after, a superb cross-field ball almost found Holebas on the left and he checked out on his right before hitting a shot that was routine for Pope.

Foster was almost caught out by an inswinging corner from Westwood, but Watford immediately broke with Deulofeu leading the charge down field. He in turn found Doucuoure, but with options running out the Frenchman fired harmlessly wide.

Jay Rodriguez replaced Wood with 15 minutes of normal time before Doucoure looked odds-on to be booked for a foul on Dwight McNeil, but escaped a yellow card.

Watford were very fortunate though, when Foster failed to act decisively when a long ball forward had Cathcart in trouble against Rodriguez, who lifted his effort over the stranded Hornets keeper from the edge of the area only for it to strike the underside of the bar enabling the Northern Irishman to head the ball behind.

It looked like the Hornets had escaped immediate danger after a swinging leg from Holebas saw him take out Barnes in the area from the corner. After the counter-attack had broken down though, that challenge was checked by VAR Peter Bankes and Tierney points back up the field to award the penalty.

Barnes took the spot kick and although Foster got a hand to it, pushing the ball onto the inside of the post it rolled across the line to put the Clarets 2-0 up.

A bad afternoon was to get even worse with two minutes to go when a Burnley free-kick from the right was inadvertently flicked on by Masina, Mariappa got drawn to the ball leaving Tarkowski unmarked at the far post and he was able to score at the second attempt after Foster had blocked his first effort.

Deloufeu went close to scoring a late consolation when his piledriver from the edge of the area was touched onto the bar by Pope, but the Spaniard will be among those reflecting on what might have been had the Hornets turned their first-half performance into at least one goal.

Watford: Foster; Femenia, Mariappa, Dawson (Masina 45), Cathcart, Holebas; Doucoure, Capoue, Hughes (Sarr 66); Deulofeu, Gray (Deeney 56). Subs not used: Gomes, Chalobah, Dele-Bashiru, Foulquier.

Burnley: Pope; Bardsley, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Hendrick, Cork, Westwood, McNeil; Barnes, Wood (Rodriguez 75). Subs not used: Hart, Lowton, Brady, Gibson, Pieters, Lennon.

Bookings: Gray for a foul on Tarkowski (25); Mee for dissent (30); Tarkowski for a foul on Deulofeu (45); Westwood booked for dissent (60).

Referee: Paul Tierney.