Gianfranco Zola described Saturday’s win over Peterborough United as a “very important moment” and believes the home form will continue on an upward curve as his team improves.

The Hornets had picked up three points at Vicarage Road on only the one previous occasion – the 2-0 victory over Birmingham City on August 25 – and they looked set to make it just two points from their next four home outings until Matej Vydra converted the late penalty.

“I think today is a very important moment, a very important thing because it has been a tight game,” said Zola afterwards. “A lot comes because they [Peterborough] are a good team, a lot comes because we haven’t had great results at home and that makes you edgy. I believe that once the team gets going it will be better and better.”

The win was achieved with just a second clean sheet in the league this season.

The Watford head coach was pleased with his side defensively, and particularly praised the contribution of Lloyd Doyley, who returned to the starting XI after a five-game absence to play on the right of the back three.

Zola said: “I thought the three central defenders were excellent – Tommie Hoban and Fitz (Hall) and I must say Lloyd was excellent, Doyley was magnificent. There was a lot of great work from them but the whole team played well to be honest.”

The absence of Neuton with a foot injury had led Zola to consider a change in formation in the build-up to Saturday’s contest. Ultimately, he continued with 3-5-2 but did make one tactical switch in the second half by moving Fernando Forestieri back to play in a deeper role.

“I wanted to try to win the game and for a second I thought about it [a change of formation],” he explained. “I just made one change. I took off one midfielder (Almen Abdi) and put Forestieri in behind the strikers because they were playing with a sitting midfielder. It worked, it didn’t work, I don’t know. That’s one of those things. You try to change the game. It can be good, it can be bad but fortunately for us today it was good.”