Brighton started the game on a streak of seven games without a win and Watford without one in their last five, and despite having scored just one goal in their last six it was the home side who were the more aggressive of the two in the opening stages.
The Seagulls were taking early advantage of Watford's lack of confidence in the back-line as Tomer Hemed was allowed to weave his way into the box and unleash a shot which flashed across the face of goal. Anthony Knockaert managed to keep the ball in play and fire in a low cross from the by-line, which was eventually scrambled clear by the Hornets.
With Watford failing to address the ease at which the home side were strolling into their area, a chance once again fell the way of Knockaert after a cross whipped into the box was fumbled by Heurelho Gomes, the winger's heavy touch let him down in the end as the ball rolled out of play.
Our defending is by far the worst in the league, not even exaggerating.— Dom (@SimplyWatford) December 23, 2017
Having struggled to get a foothold in the game up until the 20th minute, successive corners for the Hornets looked to have steadied the ship as their vulnerable defence was given a number of reprieves from the lack of cutting edge in the Brighton side.
Yet, despite a speculative effort from Watford's André Carrillo the best chance of the half fell the way of Brighton's Connor Goldson in the 31st minute, a corner delivery found the defender unmarked at the back post, but a poor header into the ground allowed Gomes to make a relatively easy save.
The remainder of the half was a sloppy affair, with neither side proving convincing in possession as misplaced passes and a lack of clinical edge scuppered any chance of finding some much needed rhythm for both sides.
No prizes for guessing the half-time score at Brighton v Watford. Brighton have actually been decent in spells but this is really quite poor.— Sam Dean (@SamJDean) December 23, 2017
A breakaway for the Seagulls in the opening minutes of the second half looked promising as Hemed streamed in behind the Watford defence. But following in the vein of the first half the chance was scuppered with a lack of ball control with Hemed's eventual shot lashed over the bar.
Watford had for the most part looked devoid of ideas across the field and they took until the 55th minute to register their first shot on target. It came from their standout performer of the season, Richarlison who powered past his marker and unleashed a strike from a tight angle - calling Mat Ryan into action for the first time.
The Hornets' first chance of the match had a knock on effect as the game finally came to life. Having narrowly missed the target moments before, Groß found his range in the 64th minute after Brighton took advantage of Watford's sloppy play in the middle of the park.
A pass fizzed towards Tom Cleverley in the centre circle allowed the Seagulls to pounce, they secured possession and streamed forward in numbers. Groß was allowed to cut back on his right and unleash a shot which squeezed under Gomes, ending the Seagulls' torrid run in front of goal.
The home side could then have easily doubled their lead on two separate occasions, with Lewis Dunk's header from merely six yards out somehow failing to land in the back of the net, whilst Hemed's close range effort flew agonisingly wide of the upright.
9 - Pascal Gross has been directly involved in nine Premier League goals this season (4 goals, 5 assists), four more than any other Brighton player. Pivotal.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 23, 2017
With their backs against the wall and time quickly running out Watford pushed forward in search of a breakthrough, but Brighton's defence stood tall and blocked consecutive efforts on goal before the move finished with Richarlison glancing his header wide.
With the first game of the frantic Christmas period in the bank Brighton now face a trip to Chelsea and Newcastle before hosting Bournemouth on New Year's Day. Whilst Watford host Leicester and Swansea before making the treacherous trip to face Manchester City.