TOON STRUGGLE AT BOTH ENDS AS A LONG, HARD WINTER LOOMS
final third was there for all to see in the first half and a move that started with Ritchie making a good run and cross down the right, ended with Shelvey hopelessly clipping the ball over the bar three minutes before the break.
With United desperate for the half-time whistle and a chance to re-organise, Zeegelaar’s stoppagetime cross from the left was bundled into his own net by DeAndre Yedlin.
At half-time, there were pockets of boos as Newcastle put in one of their worst first-half performances of the season.
It could have been game over at the start of the second half when Andre Gray raced down the left but scuffed his shot wide.
Zeegelaar continued to torture Yedlin down his side of the pitch and produced a good cross on 63 minutes which Gray was able to slot home unmarked at the back post.
Newcastle had a good chance mid-way through the second half with Murphy’s low cross for Joselu but his weak effort was easily smothered by Gomes.
Benitez made a double change in the final 20 minutes when he threw on Aleksandar Mitrovic and Mikel Merino.
Joselu and Mo Diame made way as Newcastle tried to claw their way back into the game.
Merino’s first contribution was to pick out Mitrovic but he didn’t read the pass and the ball rolled out of play.
Benitez’s last throw of the dice was to introduce Ayoze Perez for the final 14 minutes as he replaced Murphy.
Gray was offered another clear chance for Watford with eight minutes left but struck tamely at Rob Elliot.
Mitrovic had a shot blocked at the Gallowgate End in the closing stages as Newcastle attempted to make the scoreline respectable, but they were unable to find a way through Watford’s determined rearguard.
Few were expecting any type of comeback and it could easily be argued this game was done and dusted as soon as Yedlin flicked the ball into his own net just before the break.