Nigel Pearson claims his Watford players were bullied in their 1-0 defeat away at Burnley and said they did not impose themselves on their opponents.

The Hornets head coach also blamed unforced errors for a poor performance in the first-half, during which the team played in a 4-4-2 formation, instead of the 4-3-3 they have been using since the coach arrived in December.

A change of formation brought with it an improved performance in the second-half, before Jay Rodriguez nodded home the game's only goal, although Pearson refuted the idea that tactics were to blame for the lacklustre opening 45 minutes.

"We allowed ourselves to be bullied a little bit at times," he said. "But the irony is of course we played much much better in the second-half but conceded a goal, so that's sometimes how it goes I'm afraid.

"The shape's nothing to do with it as far as I'm concerned, it's more to do with decision making on the pitch and we didn't impose ourselves on our opponents. If you want to use the shape argument then that's your prerogative, but not for me."

A win would have taken Watford four points clear of the relegation zone and, with Burnley going into the match off the back of a 5-0 defeat at Manchester City just three days ago, Pearson admitted the result felt like a missed opportunity.

However, he went on to say that anyone who expected the Clarets not to turn up for the fixture would have been doing them a disservice.

"I feel it's a bit of a missed opportunity and that's not to take anything away from Burnley," he said. "I thought they played well, I thought they saw the game out pretty effectively once they'd taken the lead. But we've spurned opportunities and in the first-half we made too many unforced errors and I think that caused us too many problems.

"What I would say, whenever you play against one of Sean's sides, you know it's going to be a tough game and we knew they'd be smarting from the result against City, so I tend not to look at that as a factor.

"The barometer of how I measure our performance is always us and what I know we're capable of and that's really how I measure our performance. I think you'd be doing a club like Burnley a disservice here if there was a suggestion that they wouldn't go into games like this with anything other than 100 per cent intention of winning the game."