Two second-half goals by Stephen Glass earned Watford their third away victory of the season, but the real hero of the hour for Gianluca Vialli's side was his goalkeeper Alec Chamberlain, who made a string of fine saves to keep out an increasingly desperate Coventry attack.
The deadlock was broken in the 72nd minute when the hosts' substitute defender Richard Shaw pulled down Watford's top scorer Tommy Smith inside the penalty area. The referee Uriah Rennie immediately pointed to the spot.
Glass's left-foot shot beat the goalkeeper Andy Goram, on the field because Magnus Hedman damaged a calf muscle in the first half.
In the 86th minute Watford rounded off a move started on the right flank. Paolo Vernazza and Micah Hyde were both involved before the ball reached Glass, who drilled a low shot into Goram's right-hand corner.
The match was a triumph for their well-drilled defence which kept the home attack at bay. Coventry ought to have been in front in the 12th minute, though. Lee Mills knocked the ball to Youssef Chippo, whose shot struck Chamberlain and was spinning into the net when Lee Hughes dived to head it home from a couple of feet. To Hughes' dismay the goal was ruled out by an offside flag – and the striker then realised that, if he had not taken a hand, Chippo's goal would have been allowed.
Coventry created most of the chances, but Chamberlain made brilliant saves from Hughes and Laurent Delorge and from Coventry's young midfielder David Thompson.
Watford's moments were few and far between. But volleys from Paul Robinson and Gifton Noel-Williams flew inches wide.
Goals: Glass pen (74) 0-1; Glass (87) 0-2.
Coventry City: Hedman (Goram, h-t); Edworthy, Konjic, Carsley (Shaw, 60), Hall (Joachim, 78), Delorge, Safri, Chippo, Thompson, Hughes, Mills. Substitutes not used: Quinn, Fowler.
Watford: Chamberlain; Blondeau, Cox, Vega, Robinson, Vernazza, Fisken (Hyde, 66), Glass, Smith (Issa, 81), Helguson, Gayle (Noel-Williams, 60). Substitutes not used: Baardsen (gk), Noble.
Referee: U Rennie (Sheffield).
Bookings: Coventry: Konjic, Safri. Watford: Helguson, Blondeau, Hyde.
Man of the match: Chamberlain.
Attendance: 13,251.Reuse content