Watford survived a late push from Derby County to pick up a third consecutive victory as they ran out 2-1 winners at Vicarage Road.

A quickfire first half double from Joao Pedro and Will Hughes had the Hornets in a strong position at half time with Colin Kazim-Richards unable to weaken their lead, as his headed finish was disallowed. 

However, William Troost-Ekong set up a nervy finish to the match when he scored an own goal late on.

Both sides entered the game looking to build on periods of good form, with the Hornets picking up two good wins from their previous two matches and the Rams winning five of their last six.

Yet it was Watford who emerged victorious as they made the most of two good chances during a positive spell in the first half.

In a bid to garner some consistency, Xisco Munoz made just one change to his starting XI, bringing William Troost-Ekong back into the fold in place of the impressive Francisco Sierralta.

Pedro had scored the winning goal in a 1-0 victory away at Pride Park in the reverse leg earlier on in the season and he divided the two sides in the 20th minute, after a slow, uneventful start to the match.

There was a touch of fortune about the goal as Pedro was initially beaten to Ismaila Sarr’s cross from the right by Andre Wisdom, only for the defender’s clearance to ricochet off the Brazilian’s right heel and into the net.

Harrow Times:

While Pedro could count himself lucky to have scored, there was nothing fortuitous about the Hornets’ second goal which arrived just moments later.

Tom Cleverley reacted well to a cleared corner, poking back into the box to Nathaniel Chalobah, whose inventive backheel found Hughes and the midfielder steered beyond David Marshall into the far corner to score against his former employers.

Harrow Times:

Watford had really hit their stride with the two goals and started to attack with greater creativity as they looked to put the game beyond their visitors.

A Kiko Femenia cross from the right just needed the right contact, but evaded all in the area, while a searching ball over the top from Cleverley looking for Pedro was just overhit and gathered gratefully by Marshall.

For all their endeavour going forward, Watford required yet more good fortune to take their two-goal advantage in at the break, with Derby putting the ball in the net five minutes before half time.

Kazim-Richards had beaten Daniel Bachmann to a corner, but referee Tim Robinson adjudged the attacker to have fouled the keeper and the goal was disallowed. Replays showed that any contact between the two was minimal at best.

The Rams fashioned one more good opportunity in added on time at the end of the first half, with Patrick Roberts finding Martyn Waghorn with a searching ball in behind from deep, but the striker could not keep his effort down and side-footed high into the Rookery End.

Pedro showed greater accuracy in front of the same stand when he was presented with the first chance of the second half, but he was at full stretch when he took his first-time shot on the end of a well-measured delivery from Hughes and failed to test Marshall.

Bachmann was even less troubled by Derby’s next opportunity which was fired both high and wide by Kazim-Richards, shooting on the turn on the edge of the penalty area.

It was an effort that suggested some improvisation might be needed to find a goal in the second half, with chances not exactly coming thick and fast.

Pedro tried a similarly inventive shot in the 65th minute when he hooked over the bar on the end of a short corner routine that was crossed in by Cleverley, while some poor defensive work from Derby ensured that Sarr didn’t need to be too creative to find some space as he cut in from the right, but his left-footed strike whistled wide of Marshall’s far post.

The Rams were gifted a route back into the match with just under 15 minutes of normal time remaining when Nathan Byrne's cross from the right was turned into his own net by Troost-Ekong.

Harrow Times:

Byrne then caused more problems with another delivery ten minutes later, this time from a corner, with Bachmann having to dive to his near post to prevent the cross from curling straight in.

After a tame Philip Zinckernagel shot was easily saved by Marshall, Derby created one final effort with the keeper going up for a corner. 

However they were unable to force the ball home and the Hornets held on to take another three points, lifting them back into third place.