Watford’s relegation to the Championship was finally confirmed after a 1-0 away defeat at Crystal Palace, which they finished with ten men.

A Wilfried Zaha penalty sealed their fourth demotion from the Premier League, with only Norwich City (six), and West Bromwich Albion (five) suffering more in the history of the division.

Hassane Kamara was sent off with 20 minutes of the match remaining for a second yellow. 

The return to the second tier will come as a surprise to absolutely no one, with results far from good enough this season, particularly at home, where they have lost their last 11 in a row.

This latest defeat equals a club record of six successive top flight losses, a feat they have now managed four times in their history, and twice this season.

Even if they had beaten Palace, it would have merely offered a stay of execution for the Hornets, whose manager Roy Hodgson said “the writing was on the wall” in his pre-match press conference, conceding that relegation was inevitable after last week’s collapse against Burnley at Vicarage Road.

Despite that, the 74-year-old, who was awarded a CBE for services to football on Wednesday, was reluctant to tinker with his failing side too much, making four changes to his starting XI.

Tom Cleverley, Edo Kayembe, Craig Cathcart and Joshua King were drafted into the team, replacing Juraj Kucka, Imran Louza, and Joao Pedro, all of whom picked up knocks, while Christian Kabasele dropped to the bench.

Kick off was slightly delayed due to a barrage of balloons that had been released onto the pitch ahead of the match. They had to be popped to prevent them from interfering with play.

It was then time for Palace to let the air out of any hope Watford might have had of staving off their relegation by another week.

It took them a while to do it, with the Hornets’ defence standing firm in the opening exchanges, despite the hosts maintaining both control and pressure.

Michael Olise’s lashed effort over the bar was as close as anyone came to making the breakthrough in the first 20 minutes, with the visitors offering very little going the other way.

Yet Zaha hammered what would be the final nail into Watford’s coffin just after the half-hour mark, after Olise’s header on the end of a cross struck the flailing arm of Kamara, forcing referee Graham Scott to award a penalty. The Ivorian sent Ben Foster the wrong way to make it 1-0.

It was almost two before the break after Marc Guehi made enough room for himself to meet Eberechi Eze’s corner, but he was thwarted by a strong right-handed save from Foster.

Olise also squandered a chance after Zaha had threaded a ball into his path in the penalty area. He once again was unable to keep his effort under the bar.

Watford had their first shot on target after the half-time break, with King charging to the edge of the penalty area after dispossessing Eze, but his effort was weak and Jack Butland was hardly tested.

Cleverley was forced out of the game ten minutes after the restart when he exacerbated an injury he had picked up in the first half. Hodgson decided to bring on winger Ken Sema to replace him in the centre of the park.

It did little to change the flow of the game and the Hornets were once again fortunate not to find themselves 2-0 down after Odsonne Edouard made his way past Cathcart, Kayembe and Kiko Femenia in the visitors’ area, only for his shot to rattle the far post after squeezing through Foster’s legs.

The task became increasingly difficult for Hodgson's men with 20 minutes remaining, when Kamara was dismissed for his second yellow card of the afternoon, having already picked one up in the 16th minute.

Adam Masina was brought off the bench, replacing Emmanuel Dennis, to plug the gap at left back.

Despite the numerical disadvantage, Sema earned his side a chance with ten minutes of normal time remaining, charging forward and winning a corner off the ankles of Palace substitute Tyrick Mitchell. Cathcart rose to meet Femenia's cross, but headed over.

At the other end, Foster was twice more called upon to keep the score down as substitute Jean-Philippe Mateta headed on target on the end of an Olise cross before Jeffrey Schlupp fired at goal in stoppage time. 

Yet it mattered little as the hosts saw the game out without duress and the Hornets meekly accepted their fate.

TEAM: Foster; Femenia, Cathcart, Samir (Troost-Ekong), Kamara; Kayembe, Sissoko, Cleverley (Sema), Sarr, Dennis (Masina), King

Unused Substitutes: Bachmann, Ngakia, Etebo, Gosling, Kabasele, Kalu