Burnley ended a run of two defeats in three games to get their impressive 2017-18 campaign back on track but referee Lee Probert was the centre of attention after a string of questionable decisions.
Open start to the game
In a contest between two of this season's surprise packages, both nestling nicely in the top eight before the start of play, it was Watford who took the game to their hosts from the outset. Tom Cleverley's second-minute corner caused confusion in the box with three Hornets ending up getting in each other's way. Richarlison then scooped over a decent opportunity created by Andre Carrillo.
Yet it was Burnley who went closest to breaking the deadlock on 16 minutes. Johann Berg Gudmundsson shared set-piece duties with Steven Defour in the absence of Robbie Brady and forced Heurelho Gomes to push his curling free-kick around the post.
As Burnley began to establish a foothold in the contest, Gudmundsson floated another effort wide before Chris Wood could not find the desired leverage to catch out Gomes who was on the edge of his box after a direct ball over the top from Stephen Ward.
However, Watford still posed a threat and Abdoulaye Doucoure was thwarted by Nick Pope's smart stop after a powerful strike from range. The game was heating up nicely despite the snow falling at Turf Moor.
Zeegelaar challenge sparks the contest into life
With just five minutes until the break, the contest was graced with an extra bite to the conditions. The ball fell loose and Marvin Zeegelaar jumped in two-footed on Steven Defour. Referee Probert showed him a straight red, although the left-back did keep his feet close to the ground...it was one of those decisions that could be debated for hours across the rest of the weekend.
Jose Holebas replaced the dangerous Roberto Pereyra to add more weight to the Watford defence but hit the side-netting with a strike just minutes after taking to the field. However, Burnley went down the other end with the dangerous Gudmundsson who slid the ball across which was neatly dummied by Jeff Hendrick before being turned home by Scott Arfield.
Burnley smelt blood even with just injury-time remaining in the half and appeals for a penalty were turned down when Darryl Janmaat blocked another Arfield strike with his arm before Gudmundsson forced Gomes to turn an angled strike away.
Controversy at both ends
Ignited by their feeling of injustice, Watford came out flying in the opening 15 minutes of the second-half. However, a spell of concerted pressure was made redundant by a lack of quality with the final ball as the Hornets failed to test Nick Pope.
Then came a spell of ten minutes where Burnley had two goals disallowed. Firstly, a Wood tap-in laid onto him by Jack Cork was ruled out when substitute Ashley Barnes was adjudged to have interfered with play despite not touching the ball. Barnes himself then had a strike ruled out for offside again with the decision extremely marginal.
Sandwiched either side of the latter incident were two penalty appeals for Watford. The visitors had a very strong shout turned down when James Tarkowski made contact with Carillo before Richarlison went down under a Phil Bardsley challenge just minutes later. However, the defender appeared to get the ball on that occasion.
Watford continued to press but could not break down an organised Burnley defence as many teams have struggled to do this season. The Clarets held out for the points to close the gap on the top four whilst Watford drop a place to ninth.