Emmanuel Dennis scored 12 minutes from time to hand struggling Watford vital away points as they won 1-0 at Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday, their first victory since November.
It ended a run of 12 matches without success and marked a first win under new manager Roy Hodgson, although Watford remain in the relegation zone with 18 points from 24 matches.
Dennis, who now has nine league goals this season, headed home a cross from Ismaila Sarr as Watford’s counter attacking finally paid dividends and handed them their first win since November.
The result means Villa have not won any of their last four games.
Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez made two key saves after the goal, from Tom Cleverley and Josh King, to deny Watford a chance for a larger margin of victory.
The hosts, who have now won only once in their past eight outings, began brightly and had a penalty claim in the second minute when Danny Ings got clipped on the heel in the area by Watford's Samir, but a VAR check confirmed the referee’s decision not to award a spot kick.
Ings also hit the outside of the post midway through the first half and Jacob Ramsey went close before the break, but Watford were always looking for chances on the break, and with increasing conviction as the match developed.
Dennis might have scored 20 minutes before his decisive strike on a quick counter. He was unmarked at the back post but captain Moussa Sissoko elected to go on his own and hit a poor effort into the side netting when a square pass looked the better option.
But the break came in the 78th minute with Sarr, who had stopped in the penalty area and waited for Dennis’ run, then lifted the ball into the six-yard box where the Nigeria international got ahead of his marker to power home the cross.
There were nine minutes added on at the end of the game but Villa were unable to force an equaliser.
It was Hodgson’s fourth game in charge and a major boost for the Hornets.