There were encouraging signs to take into the final two weeks of pre-season as Watford suffered a 2-1 defeat in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Crystal Palace this afternoon.

A second-half brace from Odsonne Edouard secured the win for the Eagles after Edo Kayembe had equalised with a fine strike from the edge of the area at the Premier League club's Copers Cope training ground.

The majority of Watford’s more eye-catching work came in the opening period – before the predictable plethora of second-half changes disrupted the flow of the contest – but throughout Valerien Ismael’s side looked like a team who knew what was expected of them, a comment it has often not been possible to make over the past couple of seasons.

There was a structure and understanding about how they went about their work, their pressing caused Palace issues at times and there was a willingness to try and play through the thirds.

At times this led to their undoing – both Palace goals came after the ball had been lost and possession turned over – and there is still other work to be done, as should be expected with two weeks of pre-season remaining and with more changes set to be made to the squad.

Concerns also remain over the lack of creativity and the goal scoring threat, but Ismael has clearly instilled a more positive work ethic and attitude in the squad to build from.

The returning Matheus Martins was the only signing to start. Rhys Healey and Jake Livermore come on in the second half, but Tom Ince was not part of the matchday 22 and neither were Ismael Kone and Christian Kabasele.

The Hornets deployed a back five when defending, with Francisco Sierralta pushing up into midfield when in possession and Jeremy Ngakia and James Morris looking to provide width, and enjoyed the better of the game in the first half.

They had a good chance to open the scoring in the 13th minute when Tom Dele-Bashiru slipped Imran Louza into space in the penalty area, but he shot straight at Eagles keeper Sam Johnstone.

After the initial set piece had been dealt with, the Hornets went even closer from the second corner – Louza’s inswinger from the right was met by Vakoun Bayo, who had escaped his marker, but his header was impressively kept out by Johnstone, with the keeper able to get to his feet in time to again do well to save the follow-up header from Ryan Porteous.

Wesley Hoedt was booked soon after for a foul on Jean-Philippe Mateta - the striker reacting angrily to the challenge and squaring up to the defender – before a loose attempted pass from Daniel Bachmann was returned to Mateta, who attempted to square the ball across the area for Naouirou Ahamada but Morris snuffed out the danger.

The Hornets had another good opportunity in the 25th minute when Bayo played the ball into Louza, who held it up before putting his teammate in the clear on the right side of the area, only to drag his shot wide of Johnstone’s far post.

Palace, who had seemingly been content to let their opponents have the ball in front of them, had a better spell around the half-hour mark and created another opening when Jordan Ayew slipped in Mateta, but he again opted for a pull back instead of taking the chance on himself.

The second half started in niggly fashion with the referee choosing to speak to both captains after Hoedt and Ayew had both been taken out off the ball.

But it was Palace who made the breakthrough in the 54th minute when Bachmann tried to pass the ball out to Louza, who was caught in possession facing his own goal by Ayew and Edouard finished confidently past the Hornets keeper.

Ismael changed more than half his team on the hour but in the 68th minute the visitors levelled when Ryan Andrews, who impressed after coming on, drove forward on the right and found Martins in field and his backheel was impressively fired beyond replacement keeper Remi Matthews by Kayembe from 18 yards out.

Edouard was to score the winner seven minutes later from a similar range, but his strike took a deflection off Mattie Pollock that wrong-footed Ben Hamer, who had come on for Bachmann on the hour.

The Hornets though, had a couple of opportunities to clear the ball before it was played through to the striker as they suffered defeat in what is currently their final scheduled friendly before the new Championship campaign gets underway.

It would be a major surprise if they don’t play at least once more before facing QPR in a fortnight’s time in order to sharpen up their preparations.

Crystal Palace: Johnstone (Matthews 46); Clyne (Ward 77), Tomkins (O’Brien 80), Andersen (Richards 60), Mitchell; Doucoure (Hughes 77), Lerma (Schlupp 60); Ayew (Rak-Sakyi 77), Eze (Gordon 86), Ahamada (Riedewald 80); Mateta (Edouard 46).

Watford: Bachmann (Hamer 60); Ngakia (Andrews 60), Porteous (Pollock 60), Sierralta (Kayembe 60), Hoedt, Morris (Ferreira 60); Dele-Bashiru (Livermore 60), Louza (Forde 77); Sema (Kalu 77), Bayo (Healey 60), Martins (Asprilla 77). Not used: Roberts.