Watford were held to a 0-0 draw with West Bromwich Albion at Vicarage Road, as supporters were welcomed back for the first time since December.

The easing of coronavirus restrictions meant a smattering of supporters, 3,612 of them, were able to see their side at the Vic and not from home on the television, but the pre-season friendly fixture lived up to its billing, with the match itself fairly unstimulating.

The Hornets started with a full-strength team, despite injuries ruling out Joao Pedro, Kiko Femenia, Nathaniel Chalobah and Tom Dele-Bashiru, while Will Hughes remained out due to his ongoing contract situation. 

Ben Foster started in goal, with Daniel Bachmann not included due to his involvement in Euro 2020, behind a back four of Jeremy Ngakia, William Troost-Ekong, Craig Cathcart and Adam Masina. The midfield three consisted of Tom Cleverley, Dan Gosling and Peter Etebo, while supporters were given a first glance of Colombian Cucho Hernandez up front, alongside Troy Deeney and Ismaila Sarr. 

New signings Imran Louza, Danny Rose and Ashley Fletcher were not part of the squad, having been part of the team that lost 3-1 to Brentford at the training ground earlier in the day. 

There were 16 names on the bench for Xisco Munoz to also use, as he heavily rotated his team during the game. 

Sarr had the perfect chance to open the scoring in only the fifth minute of the contest when Deeney released Hernandez down the left, but the Senegal man, perhaps lacking sharpness, fluffed his lines and shanked his shot wide of David Button’s post.  

Munoz was forced to make his first change of the match just nine minutes in when Masina pulled up, trialist James Morris, formerly of Southampton, was given his chance to shine at left back. 

He came up against a lively-looking West Brom attack, with striker Grady Diangana in particular causing problems.  

The former West Ham man forced a save out of Foster after quarter of an hour with a driven effort from outside the area that was comfortable for the keeper, who was playing against his former club. 

Diangana should have put the visitors ahead five minutes later when he beat the Watford offside trap to this time find himself with an even better chance of beating Foster in a one-on-one situation. The Congolese man tried to lift the ball over the keeper and instead put it straight into his gloves.  

The Hornets had been second best for the first quarter of the game and that trend looked likely to continue following a water break, with Kyle Bartley going close from a corner, as the hosts struggled to retain possession. 

They fashioned the next sight of goal however, with Sarr crossing from the right and Hernandez nodding back across goal from the far post. Cleverley was waiting in the centre, but just couldn’t control his effort enough to threaten the West Brom goal.  

The visitors then almost immediately created another opportunity for themselves, this time with Matt Phillips striking, only for his shot to be saved by Foster on a tight angle.  

With the pressure mounting Watford needed to change tact in order to reduce the number of chances on their goal, and they soon began controlling the rhythm of the game simply keeping hold of the ball and not allowing the Baggies to play. 

Although it limited chances for their opponents, it was not exactly creating a huge amount for themselves going forward and the game became something of a drab affair right until the end of the first half when a late flurry of activity saw the Hornets almost break the deadlock. 

A foul on Hernandez out on the left earned Dara O’Shea a yellow card and gave Gosling the chance to cross the ball into the area.  

His delivery sailed over everyone and almost flew right into the net but for Conor Townsend’s interruption on the line. 

Townsend was called upon again straight after when Hernandez turned the rebound back towards goal before Cathcart’s effort from the edge of the area was saved by Button. 

Having been given enough to deal with in the first half, Foster was replaced by Rob Elliot at the break, while new signing Dapo Mebude came on to replace Cleverley.  

Watford had a huge shout for a penalty rejected at the beginning of the second half when Sarr was upended by Jake Livermore in the box after a neat one-two with Deeney, but the referee waved play on, much to the chagrin of all in yellow and black. 

Mebude ought to have scored soon after when Hernandez slipped him in behind the Baggies’ defence, only for the Scotland youth international to drag his effort wide of the far post. 

Munoz continued with his rotation midway through the second half to try and inject some more pace into the match. He brought on Kane Crichlow, Maurizio Pochettino, Henry Wise, who had scored in the defeat to Brentford earlier in the day, and new arrival Joshua King.  

The former Everton and Bournemouth man was involved immediately with Morris slipping a neat through ball into the left-hand channel, but King, wearing the number 13 shirt, was unable to find a teammate in the box.  

West Brom substitute Callum Robinson forced a save out of Elliot with 15 minutes remaining before Munoz made another flurry of changes.  

Will Hall and George Langston came in to replace Troost-Ekong and Cathcart in defence, while Dan Gosling made way for Ben Smith and George Abbott was given his chance at right back, in place of Jeremy Ngakia. 

The Hornets finished the match on the back foot, but the youngsters held on to keep the visitors out and the game finished goalless.