It was always going to be a tall order but Hayden Mullins was unable to revive Watford’s fortunes tonight as they fell to a 2-0 defeat at Leicester City.

The Hornets were organised and disciplined in the caretaker head coach's first game in charge following the sacking of Quique Sanchez Flores and they would have hoped to push on after getting through to half-time goalless.

They also had a penalty decision go in their favour in the opening period when VAR stood by Craig Pawson's decision to yellow card Jamie Vardy for simulation when he felt he had been brought down by Adrian Mariappa.

But that changed 10 minutes after the break when the Foxes were awarded a soft spot-kick after Adam Masina was adjudged to have pushed Jonny Evans in the face in the 18-yard box and Vardy made no mistake from the spot.

The visitors' confidence had been fragile at best and it drained further after falling behind, with Leicester looking comfortable as they seemed content to sit on their lead after going close to a second goal having gone in front.

The Hornets had defended well though, only to blot that aspect of their game deep into injury time when James Maddison capitalised on some poor play at the back to net the second goal.

Prior to that, substitute Domingos Quina had forced Kasper Schmeichel into a save. That was Watford's sole on target attempt of the night and only their fourth goal attempt of the game.

Watford started nervously and should have been behind early on. Ayoze Perez's blushes were spared by an offside flag when he blazed an effort over the crossbar from 10 yards out after two minutes.

However, there was no such excuse shortly afterwards when, once more found unmarked by another Vardy cross from the left byline, he dragged his volley so wide off target he returned it to his team mate - who was then given offside.

The Hornets eventually settled, stemming the flow of chances despite allowing Leicester the majority of the possession. It took Brendan Rodgers' side until midway through the first half to threaten the visitors' goal again.

Neat build-up play between Maddison and Harvey Barnes, which included a one-two on the edge of the penalty area, saw the latter get in behind the Watford defence but Barnes shot tamely into the side netting when attempting to beat Ben Foster at his near post.

Another mazy run into the penalty area from Barnes brought Foster's first save of the match after 36 minutes as he rushed from his line to block the youngster's shot.

Watford survived a VAR check a minute later after Vardy went to ground under a challenge by Mariappa, who appeared to catch the striker's foot after the striker got to the ball first.

Referee Pawson's initial decision to award Watford a free-kick stood, although issuing Vardy with a yellow card seemed harsh.

Foster was quick out of his goal again five minutes into the second half to block another effort from Barnes, before a second VAR decision this time awarded Leicester a penalty.

Watford defender Masina was deemed to have shoved his hand in the face of Evans as a cross came into the area, with the home centre-half falling to the ground.

The check confirmed Pawson's decision to point to the penalty spot and Vardy coolly steered his kick to Foster's left as the goalkeeper anticipated an effort down the middle.

Masina went some way towards making amends just after the hour when a superb piece of defending denied Vardy a second goal.

Youri Tielemans played in Vardy down the left side of the area and the diminutive striker clipped the ball over the onrushing Foster, only for Masina to slide in front of the line - and the arriving Barnes - to hoist the ball over the crossbar.

Substitute Dennis Praet saw a goalbound effort blocked as Leicester looked for the goal that would give them some breathing space.

It did not come until after Quina provided a rare test for Schmeichel with a mildly heart-stopping moment in injury time, before Mariappa got the ball stuck under his feet allowing Maddison to run through on goal and beat Foster with virtually the last kick of the match.