Joao Pedro had a birthday to remember and secured his own place in Hornets folklore by scoring the only goal as Watford won the first derby with Luton Town for 14 years by a 1-0 margin that was more comfortable than the scoreline suggests.

The Brazilian, who turned 19 today, capitalised after good work on the left flank from Ken Sema, his finish deflected past Luton keeper Simon Sluga, who was called upon to make some more good saves on a day when the hosts should have scored more.

The Hornets had survived a big let off moments before when James Collins hit the bar, but that was to be the only real scare Ben Foster had as he kept a clean sheet for the third league game running.

It was no surprise that Ismaila Sarr’s first appearance of the season had a positive effect, with Watford producing their best performance of the campaign to date.

They were positive from the outset, able to play higher up the pitch and offered a greater attacking threat as a result, with Jeremy Ngakia and Sema able to get in more effective positions out wide.

The midfield was also more cohesive than it has been so far this campaign, with Nathaniel Chalobah looking more comfortable alongside James Garner and Tom Cleverley proving a menace for the Hatters in the more advanced role.

Vladimir Ivic made two changes from the Hornets’ last league outing, the goalless draw at Sheffield Wednesday, and they were significant.

Having been back in training for a fortnight, Sarr came into the starting XI while Garner made his full league debut following his loan move from Manchester United.

Domingos Quina and Glenn Murray dropped down to a bench that also featured Troy Deeney for the first time this season following his knee operation over the summer.

Luton came into the game looking to extend their 100 per cent start to the campaign and Nathan Jones made only a single change from last weekend’s 2-1 victory over Derby County, with Ryan Tunnicliffe replacing Glen Rea in midfield Sarr started in a more central position as the Hornets adopted a 3-5-2 formation, with Cleverley the most advanced the central midfielders.

Sluga came under pressure for the first time in the sixth minute when a Craig Cathcart ball forward was flicked on by birthday boy Pedro to try and set Sarr in on goal, but the Hatters keeper was quickly off his line to deal with the danger.

Sarr and Ngakia were beginning to dovetail nicely down the right, before the Hornets missed a good chance to take the lead in the 12th minute.

A mistake by left-back Rhys Norrington-Davies allowed Sarr to run at the retreating Luton backline, he slipped in Cleverley to his right and the captain cut the ball back across the area for Pedro to hit a first-time strike which Sluga dived to his right to hold at the second attempt.

Watford Observer:

Tom Cleverley looks to hook the ball into the area

Foster had enjoyed a relatively quiet start to the game and although he wasn’t extended, he had to be alert to pluck a Harry Cornick cross out of the air after the Luton right winger had done well to beat Ken Sema and get to the byline.

More good inter-play between Ngakia and Sarr gave the Hornets another opportunity in the 20th minute when the former West Ham defender had time to lay the ball inside the area to Cleverley, who saw his right-footed strike deflected wide.

The home side were increasingly knocking at the door as the midway point of the half approached; Sema the next to launch a raid down the left before his cross was partially headed clear but neither Garner nor Cleverley were able to get their shots cleanly away.

Referee John Brooks was forced to intervene and calm things down for the first time on the half-hour when Cleverley and Luke Berry got involved in a shoving match in the Luton box as the Hornets sought to get on the end of a Sarr cross from the right.

But it was the home side who were counting their blessings in the 34th minute when Luton really should have made the breakthrough.

A mistake from Christian Kabasele saw him gift possession to Berry, he advanced against the backtracking Hornets rear-guard before slipping the ball to Cornick, whose low cross was met by Collins in the six-yard box. The Hatters striker lifted the ball over the helpless Foster, only to watch the ball cannon back off the face of the bar.

It was a big moment – and the fact was underlined barely a minute later when the visitors found themselves behind.

Not for the first time this season, Sema was again the creator, this time with another good run down the left and his low cross picked out Pedro, whose first-time finish was deflected past the helpless Sluga to give him a 19th birthday present to savour and elevate his status amongst the Hornets faithful considerably.

Watford Observer:

Joao Pedro gets ready to celebrate his first Hornets goal

Luton, unsurprisingly, made a positive start to the second period and Foster was forced to clear away a dangerous corner from beneath his bar within a minute of the restart.

Watford were quickly back in their positive groove though, passing with intent and trying to open up the Luton defence.

Chalobah flashed a header wide from a corner but it took some desperate Luton defending to prevent them going down two behind in the 56th minute.

Cleverley began the business end of the end with a driving run forward, Pedro dummied and Garner’s first-time strike was parried by Sluga back into the heart of the area where the Brazilian looked odds-on to double his tally, only for a defender to fling himself of the follow-up and block it behind.

The Hatters boss made the first substitution in the 58th minute, bringing on Jordan Clark for Elliot Lee, but their opponents were continuing to try and turn the screw.

Chalobah was the next to try his luck, hitting a dropping ball over the top after Ngakia had played a deep cross into a dangerous area.

Watford Observer:

Nathaniel Chalobah did well in an all-round good midfield display before he was forced off

However, Chalobah’s game was to be prematurely ended by injury soon after and he was replaced by Tom Dele-Bashiru for his first appearance of the campaign.

The Hatters were having a reasonable spell inside the Hornets half at this stage and Collins will feel he should have done better when he was played into space on the right side of the area and checked back onto his left foot, only to get his attempted finish all wrong.

Luton made a second change in the 71st minute as Collins made way for Danny Hylton up front and soon after the home side were almost in again when Dele-Bashiru got to the byline and tried to pull the ball back, but Sluga got an outstretched leg to it and the visitors were able to clear.

It was perhaps surprising that it took until the 75th minute for Brooks to get his cards out, but his first caution was an easy decision to make as Matty Pearson blatantly tripped Sarr to prevent him breaking through.

Kazenga LuaLua came on for Tunnicliffe with 12 minutes of normal time remaining as the Hatters completed their changes, before another good save from Sluga kept them in the game.

Pedro showed good strength to hold up the ball on the left before laying it inside to Sarr on the edge of the area, he also held off his marker before feeding Dele-Bashiru who struck an instant drive that was turned behind the diving keeper.

Watford Observer:

Vladimir Ivic congratulates Ken Sema

Pedro’s afternoon to remember came to an end with two minutes of normal time remaining when he sustained a knock, allowing Deeney to make a brief first outing of the season.

Five minutes of stoppage time afforded the Hatters hope of still getting something from the game, but Ivic sought to run down the clock a little more by bringing on Quina for Sarr as the Hornets completed a comfortable derby day success.

Watford: Foster; Cathcart, Kabasele, Wilmot; Ngakia, Garner, Chalobah (Dele-Bashiru 63), Sema; Cleverley; Pedro (Deeney 88), Sarr (Quina 90). Subs: Bachmann, Dawson, Murray, Femenia.

Luton Town: Sluga; Cranie, Pearson, Bradley, Norrington-Davies; Cornick, Tunnicliffe (LuaLua 78) Mpanzu, Berry, Lee (Clark 58); Collins (Hylton 71). Subs not used: Shea, Moncur, Lockyer, Kioso.

Bookings: Pearson for a foul on Sarr (75); Norrington-Davies for a confrontation with Ngakia (90).

Referee: John Brooks.