Hull City 0 Watford 1 match report: Gianfranco Zola hails Watford's intelligence as Troy Deeney's strike puts Hull in sight

Battle for automatic promotion well and truly on

The KC Stadium

Cardiff City may have almost secured the title, but the Championship's second automatic promotion place remains wide open after Gianfranco Zola's Watford put their recent poor form behind them to secure a vital three points on the ground of their closest rivals.

It was a fine performance by the Hornets, whose first-half dominance was capped by Troy Deeney's fine 41st-minute strike, and with a defence well marshalled by Joel Ekstrand and Marco Cassetti they always looked in control.

"A lot of brains and a lot of passion went into that performance and we got the reward," said Zola. "We played very well in the first half and we fought very hard in the second. If we had lost Hull would have gone seven points clear and been very difficult to catch, but this team has never let me down in important games."

After a cagey opening Watford took control, and the chances began to come before Deeney's 20-yard drive in the run up to half time gave City goalkeeper David Stockdale no chance.

Hull had yet to get an effort on target, but they did receive some encouragement when Watford goalkeeper Jonathan Bond had to get down quickly to block George Boyd's effort.

The home team's best period came in the 10 minutes after the break, when Bond – still only 19 – made fine saves from Jay Simpson and Robert Koren, but Watford remained dangerous on the counter-attack.

City's manager, Steve Bruce, switched things around, trying several different combinations up front, but his side continued to find it hard to create opportunities.

"A fair result would have been a draw, but we couldn't get the breakthrough," said Bruce. "It would have been nice to have been sitting seven points clear, but I've been at this club eight months now and we never do things easy. We're still in second, it's still in our hands, and one thing we have done this season is bounce back."

Hull City (3-5-2): Stockdale: Hobbs (Proschwitz, 77), Faye, Chester: El-Mohamady, Koren, Bruce (Quinn, 68), Boyd, Brady; Simpson, Gedo (Evans, 69) Substitutes not used Jakupovic, Rosenior, Cairney, Fathi.

Watford (3-5-2): Bond: Ekstrand, Hall (Doyley, 26), Briggs (Pudil, 55); Cassetti, Abdi, Battochio, Chalobah, Anya; Deeney, Vydra (Buaben, 83). Substitutes not used Bonham, Yeates, Geijo, Forestieri.

Referee R Madley (West Yorkshire).

Eagles gives Terriers blues

Chris Eagles scored the only goal of the game at the Reebok Stadium to help Bolton to a 1-0 win over Huddersfield - a result manager Dougie Freedman called "a major victory" for his play-off chasing side. The midfielder's goal just before the hour gave Bolton a sixth straight home win and left Huddersfield in the relegation zone. Brighton's were held 0-0 by Charlton at the Amex Stadium, while Middlesbrough's match with Peterborough also ended goalless.

James Mariner

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam