Watford 1 Hull City 2: Meyler and Brady earn Tigers third consecutive away win
GOALS from on-loan pair David Meyler and Robbie Brady earned Hull City a 2-1 victory at promotion rivals Watford, a win that fired the Tigers up to fourth in the Championship.
Meyler celebrated his first goal in English football when heading in a loose ball four minutes before half-time, before Brady's wonderful free-kick doubled City's advantage midway through the second period.
Watford finally responded in stoppage time when Troy Deeney beat David Stockdale to a through-ball but it was too little too late for the in-form hosts.
City's spirited victory made it three consecutive away wins for Steve Bruce's men and dragged them to within three points of the automatic promotion places.
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For all Watford's buoyancy after a run of seven games unbeaten, it was City who looked every inch the genuine promotion contender throughout a bright first half.
The first chance of the game fell to Jay Simpson, who had been recalled at the expense of Aaron Mclean, but from Robert Koren's low cross, goalkeeper Manuel Almunia was brave to block at the striker's feet.
Koren had a shot of his own, when teed up by Simpson, straight at Almunia, while Brady also spurned a decent opportunity when volleying Ahmed Elmohamady's cross over the bar with his left foot, when using his right would have been the better option.
Not everything was going City's way, however. The in-form Paul McShane succumbed to injury after 27 minutes of the game, but an able deputy was found in substitute Jack Hobbs, who made his comeback eight months after knee surgery.
A lack of penetration from Watford allowed City to sit comfortably for long periods and the visitors got their reward for a confident performance four minutes before half-time.
The adventurous Corry Evans was unfortunate to see his thumping drive cannon off the underside of the bar, but Meyler was there to profit from the rebound when calmly heading into an unguarded net.
If Watford had disappointed the patrons of Vicarage Road with an unconvincing first half performance, a bold response after the break offered real hope of a route back into the game.
Mark Yeates' free-kick was well saved by Stockdale but City had to rely on a slice of good fortune with a quarter of the game remaining.
Substitute Almen Abdi, who had only been on the field for two minutes, latched on to Yeates' low cross and sent his shot powerfully against the post.
Much to Bruce's relief, it proved to be as close as Watford would get to parity. Five minutes after City's let-off, the visitors doubled their lead.
A central free-kick 25 yards out from goal was seized by Brady and his left-foot effort was too good for Almunia.
Watford continued to press in search of a lifeline but gallant defending from the Tigers formed an insurmountable barrier. Elmohamady's clearance off the line typified an excellent defensive effort.
Deeney's stoppage time consolation, when he beat Stockdale to the ball, came too late and City were able to hold on to another precious away win ahead of facing Huddersfield at the KC Stadium next weekend.