Any threat of violence in Watford town centre for the football failed to materialise - but police have confirmed rival supporters did make the journey into town.

Watford faced rivals Luton for the first time in 14 years on Saturday – and despite no fans being able to attend Vicarage Road due to the pandemic, there was a heightened police presence in Watford town centre.

Extra officers were drafted in to patrol train stations, the town centre, and Vicarage Road to deter troublemakers as well as respond quickly if things did kick off.

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A police van in Watford High Street on Saturday

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A police van parked outside Watford Junction

Throughout the week, Hertfordshire Constabulary warned supporters of both teams that anyone coming into Hertfordshire on Saturday to cause criminal damage, violence or anti-social behaviour could expect to be arrested.

Meanwhile, Watford FC took steps to board up the statue of former manager Graham Taylor on Thursday for the match – although the club has never stated why it decided to take such action.

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A workman boarding up a statue of Graham Taylor on Thursday

Read more: Graham Taylor statue boarded up ahead of Luton game

Read more: Fans divided by decision to board up Taylor statue

Comments on social media in the lead up to the game accused police of “overreacting” when it announced there would be an increased police presence in the town.

In the past, games between Watford and Luton have led to fights both before and during the game – most recently in 2002.

But there was no sign of any trouble on Saturday with Watford securing the bragging rights with a 1-0 victory.

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Police officers outside Vicarage Road on Saturday morning

Police have confirmed no arrests were made on the day but officers did speak with a “handful” of fans from both sides who turned up in Watford town centre.

Chief Superintendent Matt Nicholls said: “We worked closely with our colleagues in Bedfordshire, Watford Borough Council and the respective football clubs to limit anti-social behaviour and disorder in the town.

“With a high-visibility police presence across the town, officers were well-placed to speak with the handful of fans who ignored advice not to travel into Watford because the match was played behind closed doors, not televised and not screened in any pubs.

“Our officers spoke to a number of small groups of people and reminded them there was nowhere to watch the fixture locally.”

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Three police vehilces pictured in The Parade in Watford on Saturday

Speaking in town on Saturday, shopper Iain Day said he thought the number of police officers was “overkill”.

He said: “It’s ridiculous. There are no supporters coming from Luton today, they are not allowed in the grounds, there won’t be many coming so I think it is overkill.

"I am all for police presence but this is way over the top just for this.”

Responding to criticism that the policing operation was an “overreaction”, Chief Supt Nicholls said: “Our aim was to ensure that the match went ahead peacefully as planned with minimal disruption to local residents and the whole community.”

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A police van outside Watford's stadium on Saturday

Hertfordshire Constabulary refused to say how much the policing operation in Watford cost but said all costs were met by the force.

Police added that changes to shifts and officers’ rest days kept costs down.

Chief Supt Nicholls added that additional officers in the town were able to engage with other members of the community about the pandemic and advise them on the ‘rule of six’.