Watford came unstuck away from home at promotion rivals Swansea City, who clawed their way back from behind to win 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium.

The defeat sees the Hornets drift to six points behind the top two as their suspect form on the road continued into the new year. 

Two goals from Jamal Lowe either side of half-time turned the tie in Swansea’s favour after Tom Cleverley had given the visitors the lead early on in the first half.

New head coach Xisco Munoz was forced into one change from the win over league leaders Norwich City, with the departing Etienne Capoue replaced after his move to Villarreal by Nathaniel Chalobah.

William Troost-Ekong returned from injury to start on the bench, while Stipe Perica was ruled out with an injury picked up in training during the week.

Swansea’s game plan became apparent very quickly with Connor Roberts whipping several dangerous looking crosses in from the right, the first of which was mere inches away from being turned into the net by Korey Smith on the edge of the six-yard box.

His following efforts were dealt with well by the Hornets’ defenders who looked to have quickly worked out where they would be focusing most of their attention during the match.

Having weathered the early storm, the visitors set about creating their own chance with a cross from the right, with quarter-of-an-hour on the clock.

Ben Wilmot showed some real tenacity on the flank to first keep the ball in play and then to wrestle it away from the defending Lowe, before finding Andre Gray with a wonderfully hit cross. The striker took the ball down well but was denied by Swans’ keeper Freddie Woodman at his near post.

Woodman may have felt he should have done better with the opening goal of the match which came just moments later. Gray, with his back to goal, laid the ball into the path of Cleverley, whose shot was powerful enough to squirm through the goalkeeper’s grasp and into the far corner to give the Hornets the lead.

Harrow Times:

Despite having gone behind, the hosts continued to play with the determination they had shown in the opening exchanges and resumed their approach of attacking down the right flank.

Roberts once again was the main antagonist and he created another goal-scoring opportunity, with his squared pass skewed just beyond the far post by Jay Fulton. Andre Ayew was similarly wasteful after collecting one of Roberts’s passes later in the half, firing straight at Ben Foster from eight yards out when a shot either side of the keeper would likely have equalised.

Foster had to be alert again moments later when yet another ball from the right from Roberts resulted in Smith hitting a first-time shot on the turn, only to be thwarted by the keeper.

However, where Smith and Ayew had failed before him, Lowe finally managed to succeed shortly before the half-time break with Smith rolling the ball into the winger’s path and he guided his effort beyond Foster into the net off the far post, cancelling out Cleverley’s opening strike.

Watford were given a late opportunity to restore their advantage when Ismaila Sarr was tripped on the edge of the area in stoppage time, but Cleverley fired over from a similar position to which he had scored earlier, and the sides went in level at the break.

At half-time Munoz addressed the issue of Swansea’s persistent attacks down the right flank, bringing Adam Masina on for Jeremy Ngakia, but it did little to stem the flow.

Nathaniel Chalobah had to make a last ditch challenge to put off Smith following a pass in from the edge of the box, while the linesman’s flag was all that stopped the home side from going ahead after Jake Bidwell turned home a Roberts cross from deep, but from an offside position.

With the Swans gaining some success down the right, Watford set about trying to replicate that at the other end of the field. Kiko Femenia twice clipped a ball over the top for Sarr to run onto and while his crosses into the box were did cause some concern in the hosts’ penalty area, too few Watford players committed to the attack and the chances went begging.

While the Hornets seemed reluctant to throw people forward, the same could not be said of Swansea, who took the lead with around 25 minutes left via the same route from which they had been threatening all afternoon. Roberts rolled the ball back to the feet of Smith, whose arcing delivery was nodded in at the back post by Lowe.

Harrow Times:

The goal sparked Watford into a reaction, and they set about trying to salvage at least a point from the match, but they came up against a resolute Swansea defence, who blocked both a shot from Troy Deeney on the edge of the six-yard box and Sierralta’s header from a corner at the near post.

However, Deeney had only himself to blame for a shot that he guided over the bar with his instep after Ken Sema found him unmarked, eight yards from the target.

Matt Grimes came close to adding a third late on when his deflected effort nearly caught out Foster, but it was a cushion they did not need in the end, as the Hornets failed to find an equaliser in the closing stages.