Glenn Roeder's second game in charge at Carrow Road brought his first defeat as Watford strengthened their grip at the top of the Championship but the Watford manager, Adrian Boothroyd, was keen to stress that an eight-point lead does not mean that an instant return to the Premier League cannot be taken as read.
"It is a nice position to be in but if you're looking down from a great height it leaves you vulnerable to a big fall and we will not be getting too excited because we are bound to hit a sticky patch at some point," he said.
He had plenty of cause to be satisfied, having watched his team cruise to a two-goal half-time lead after an own goal by the Norwich keeper David Marshall supplemented Darius Henderson's opener, then withstand a threatened revival by Roeder's new charges before Marlon King's eighth goal of the season confirmed Watford's victory.
For Norwich, with only 48 hours to recover after a particularly intense derby against Ipswich on Sunday, when they battled back from the same half-time scoreline to rescue a point, last night was probably a challenge too far. Watford had won eight matches in an unbeaten run of 10 before last weekend's unexpected blip at home to West Bromwich Albion and were determined that their momentum would be quickly restored.
They imposed themselves over the opening 45 minutes. Norwich's frailties were emphasised as Henderson put them ahead from Lloyd Doyley's low cross; it was the tall striker's ninth goal of the season.
Adrian Mariappa's header thumped against an upright before rebounding into the net off Marshall, leaving the home side again with two goals to make up.
Roeder's double substitution in the second half gave his side fresh impetus. Replacing the lumbering John Hartson with Chris Martin gave energy to the home side's attack but it was the other substitute, Lee Croft, who dragged them back into the contest.
The home crowd's hopes of a comeback to match their derby recovery were shattered, however, when Lee Williamson's pass put in King to make sure the points went to Watford.
Norwich City (4-4-2): Marshall; Otsemobor, Taylor, Shackell, Lappin; J Smith (Croft, 53), Brellier, Russell, Chadwick (Brown, 70); Hartson (Martin, 53), Cureton. Substitutes not used: Gilks (gk), Spillane.
Watford (4-4-2): Lee; Doyley, Mariappa, Shittu, Stewart; T Smith, Williamson, Mahon, Johnson (O'Toole, 90); King (Priskin, 89), Henderson. Substitutes not used: Poom (gk), Jackson, Ellington.
Referee: C Penton (Sussex).Reuse content