Leicester City ended Watford's run of six games without defeat, a 1- 0 win at Vicarage Road condemning Graham Taylor's team to relegation and hoisting City into the play-offs.
In a nervy and error-wracked game it was perhaps inevitable that Leicester City's fourth win on the trot, clinched by Mustapha Izzet's second-half goal, was secured by a defensive mistake.
Mike Whitlow's cross from the left was flicked on by Mark Robins, but it had evaded all the men in blue until Devon White's misguided header steered it across goal and into the path of the diving Izzet who nodded home.
In the first half Leicester put more passes together but Watford created the better chances. Tommy Mooney saw little of the ball but twice made openings, one from a low cross to White who underhit his shot and another from a lovely run which he finished off by shooting wide himself. Then, four minutes from the break, centre-back Steve Palmer stormed forward and sent Craig Ramage away on the right. Watford's top scorer blazed his shot over.
For Leicester Simon Grayson and Izzet opened Watford up down the right, setting up Neil Lennon whose low drive came close. But Watford kept Steve Claridge well under wraps and Kevin Miller stretched confidently when the crosses came in.
Watford never really looked dangerous in the second half, appealing for a penalty when Andy Hessenthaler went down, and Leicester always looked more likely to score the game's second goal. As Watford pushed more men forward gaps opened up and both Claridge and Robins finished weakly with just the goalkeeper to beat.
Watford's last chance came from a succession of crosses, when Emile Heskey's misguided header gave Gary Porter a chance, but his shot at full stretch went straight to the goalkeeper.
At the other end Miller made two brilliant stops, diving first at the feet of Heskey who had raced through from half-way line, and then batting out Izzet's blast from the rebound. Claridge by now had room on the right and he created a clear chance for Keith Millen, just on as a substitute, who shot wide.
At the whistle Watford fans rose to Graham Taylor. Amid the disappointment Vicarage Road acknowledged there was no more he could have done.
Goal: Izzet (59) 0-1.
Watford (3-4-1-2): Miller; Page, Palmer, Ludden; Bazeley, Porter, Hessenthaler (Millen, 77), Mooney; Ramage; White, Connolly (Moralee, 75). Substitute not used: Wilkerson.
Leicester City (4-4-2): Poole; Grayson, Watts, Walsh, Whitlow; Izzet, Lennon, Taylor, Heskey; Robins (Parker, 83), Claridge.
Referee: J Kirkby (Sheffield).
Booking: Watford: Millen.
Man of the match: Lennon.
Attendance: 20,089.Reuse content