The four-month wait for a league home win may go on but the mood around Vicarage Road is totally different after a performance to be thoroughly proud of was enough to secure a 2-2 draw against automatic promotion-chasing Leeds United in Tom Cleverley’s first home game as interim head coach.

It was a display that oozed passion and effort throughout as a first half which was the best all-round 45 minutes produced by the Hornets at home this season was followed by a second period when other qualities were called upon, with the hosts forced to increasingly dig in as Leeds sought the win they needed to return to top spot.

Watford led 2-1 at the break, Vakoun Bayo volleying them in from and then responding to a brilliant Crysencio Summerville equaliser with a second goal from Emmanuel Dennis which also had class written all over it.

But it was the manner in which the Hornets went about their work that was so refreshing. They played with positivity, purpose and the work Cleverley and his staff had put in on the London Colney training pitches during the international break was so evident. Underpinned by sound organisation and discipline, the Hornets looked to progress the ball up the pitch with pace and pattern to their play.

Gone was the slow sideways and backwards passing that increasingly blighted so many of the first-half displays at home towards the end of the Valerien Ismael era. There were still times when Watford looked to build from the back, but the tempo was quicker with progressive intent.

There was also a sensible pragmatism to the Hornets work at the back. There was a willingness to go more direct when necessary, while at other times they opted for touch and then reset for when play resumed.

The Hornets looked to maintain their positivity after the break but they found it harder to build meaningful attacks after losing Dennis to injury before the hour.

The intensity of the performance was always going to be difficult to maintain over 90 minutes and the hosts started to run out of steam as the game moved into the last quarter.

Ultimately, Leeds’ increasing control of the ball was rewarded when Mateo Joseph equalised moments after coming off the bench - and it needed a fine Daniel Bachmann save to stop the visitors from scoring a likely winner soon after.

This was a performance that deserved to be rewarded though, a display which put a smile back on the face of Vicarage Road even though three points remain elusive.

Cleverley made three changes from the side that triumphed 1-0 at Birmingham City in his first game at the helm before the international break.

Jamal Lewis was fit to return while Francisco Sierralta and Bayo also came into the starting XI, with Ismael Kone and Giorgi Chakvetadze dropping to the bench, after their successful international breaks with Canada and Georgia respectively, along with James Morris.

Leeds came into the game in superb form, winning their last three games without conceding and looking to extend a 13-game unbeaten run that had taken them top of the Championship at the start of the day.

Boss Daniel Farke also made three changes from the team that beat Millwall 2-0 last time out.

Liam Cooper, Daniel James and Sam Byram came into the starting line-up, Junior Firpo dropped to the bench but Wilfried Gnonto and Ilia Gruev were ruled out through injury.

Cleverley’s decision to select three natural centre-backs led to suggestions before the game that a change of formation was in the offing and that was indeed what happened with Watford adopting a 3-4-1-2 in possession, switching to more of a 3-5-2 when they didn’t have the ball.

The Hornets started positively, bossing possession and territory in the opening minutes before the first controversial moment happened in the fourth minute when Summerville took exception to being hassled by Edo Kayembe and shoved the Hornets midfield in the chest. Referee David Webb decided that a stern word to both players was punishment enough though.

Ryan Andrews had the first attempt from distance when a corner was half cleared to him outside the area, but keeper Ilian Meslier was not unduly troubled.

Watford then had a claim for a penalty turned down when Ethan Ampadu got Yaser Asprilla’s foot, rather than the ball, when he sought to get on the end of a low Andrews delivery from the right, but Webb immediately waved away any appeals.

Leeds had offered little going forward in the early exchanges but Bachmann was forced into a good save in the 16th away, diving sharply to his left to push away a right-footed curler from Summerville after the Dutchman had cut in from the left side of the area.

Little then happened in terms of chance creation for the next ten minutes or so but the Hornets continued to look good. They still looked to build from the back when the time was right, but gone was the backwards and sideways passing as the ball was moved with more pace and purpose, always with the idea of going forwards.

And in the 31st minute Watford’s positivity gained a thoroughly deserved reward.

Kayembe did superbly, pressing in his own half to turn over possession before spreading the ball out to the left where the hosts attacked with purpose and pace, giving the ball to Asprilla on the left side of the area. He cut the ball back to Dennis, whose first time shot brought a good save out of Meslier, but he could only parry the ball to his left where the lurking Bayo kept his eye on the ball and thumped a cracking volley into the roof of the net to make it 1-0.

That lead could easily have been doubled soon after when Meslier played the ball short to Ampadu outside the area, but the Welsh international was caught in possession by Asprilla and he slipped in Dennis to put him through on goal, but Joe Rodon made a fine sliding challenge as he looked to pull the trigger.

But Watford’s lead was to last only six minutes courtesy of a moment of brilliance from a young Dutchman following a slice of good fortune.

Leeds built down their left before Georginio Rutter played the ball to Summerville on the left side of the area. He was in an offside position when he received the ball outside the area, but he then shifted it inside the box on his right foot before hitting a stunning right-footed effort that had pace and power and gave Bachmann no chance as it flew past him into the far corner to make it 1-1.

That was a setback but there was no let up in the positive intent from the Hornets, Asprilla the next to try his luck with a low drive that deflected off Rodon and wide of the wrong-footed Meslier’s near post.

Another chance came from the resultant corner as Asprilla’s delivery was met by the head of Ryan Porteous but Meslier was able to pluck the ball out of the air.

But that was positivity was to be rewarded again – and in some style two minutes before the interval.

Kayembe was again involved, laying the ball out to the right where Dennis weighed up his options as he came inside, teasing Cooper as he accelerated before hitting a superb left-footed strike beyond Meslier to make it 2-1.

The Hornets safely navigated three minutes of additional time before the half-time whistle was greeted with a roar and a deserved standing ovation as Cleverley’s men led at the interval for the second successive game.

That break saw Ben Hamer put through an extensive workout and although Bachmann reappeared for the second half, the two keepers had a lengthy chat as the Hornets No. 1 flexed his knee.

Watford had the first opportunity of the second period when Asprilla played in a corner from the right and Pollock lent back to head wide of the near post.

However, the visitors went closer in the 51st minute when an incisive infield pass from Archie Gray found Byram in space to play the ball inside Andrews and set Summerville free, but the scorer chose to go it alone and went for a shot to the near post which Bachmann pushed behind.

Leeds had another opportunity when a free-kick from the right was played deep to beyond the back post where Rodon headed back across goal and Byram’s close-range header was cleared off the line by Sierralta, but by this stage the flag was up for offside.

The Hornets then suffered a blow when Dennis was forced off by injury. He was replaced by Kone in the 58th minute and the hosts moved into more of a 3-4-3 formation, with the substitute initially taking up the central forward role.

Farke made his first change five minutes later with Firpo replacing Cooper, moments after an Asprilla corner from the left had fallen invitingly for Kayembe at the far post, but his attempted volley went high in the air rather than towards the target. Although the hosts kept the ball alive, it ultimately came to nothing.

The visitors had the next opening three minutes later, Summerville finding James on the right and the Welshman came inside before hitting a low shot which Bachmann held.

The visitors made their second change in the 74th minute, Joel Piroe coming on for Rutter, but by this stage they were enjoying much more of the ball as they continued to probe in search of an equaliser.

Watford were looking in need of some fresh energy and Cleverley sought to inject some with ten minutes of normal time remaining, bringing on Tom Ince for Asprilla.

The home side were still in front though, and Farke rolled the dice again in the 84th minute, bringing on Jadon Anthony and Joseph for Byram and Glen Kamara.

The impact was almost instant.

Once again Summerville was heavily involving, showing Andrews a clean pair of heels as he burst into the air before laying the ball across the area where Joseph’s first effort was blocked by Porteous. Lewis slid in to try and clear but was unlucky to see the ball hit the substitute and rebound past Bachmann to make it 2-2.

The Hornets were hanging on and, moments later, the other new introduction almost put his side in front, but for a superb save from Bachmann.

The route to the opportunity was the same as before, Summerville bursting away from Andrews before hitting a shot which the Hornets keeper parried, but the rebound broke for Anthony, whose goalbound shot was repelled by the legs of Bachmann to keep it all-square.

Mileta Rajovic came on for Bayo as the fourth official signalled five minutes of added time, halfway through which tempers became frayed after Porteous went down clutching his leg as the home side prepared to defend a throw-in. However, order was soon restored.

As it transpired, seven minutes of stoppage time were played but Watford got through to secure the point that was the least their efforts deserved from a performance that rightly received the ovation it was given by the home faithful at full-time.

Watford: Bachmann; Pollock, Sierralta, Porteous; Andrews, Kayembe, Dele-Bashiru, Lewis; Asprilla (Ince 80); Dennis (Kone 58), Bayo (Rajovic 89). Subs not used: Hamer, Livermore, Chakvetadze, Martins, Morris, Grieves.

Leeds United: Meslier; Gray, Rodon, Cooper (Firpo 63), Byram; Ampadu, Kamara; James, Rutter (Piroe 74), Summerville; Bamford. Subs not used: Darlow, Cresswell, Anthony, Shackleton, Gelhardt, Joseph, Crew.javascript:void(0) Bookings: None.

Referee: David Webb.