Watford 0-0 Hull City
Spirited Hull City played out a creditable goalless draw against promotion hopefuls Watford at Vicarage Road.
Tyler Smith and Ozan Tufan went closest for the Tigers, while goalkeeper Matt Ingram twice denied João Pedro and Rey Manaj missed a golden chance at the death.
Liam Rosenior made three changes for City’s first game following the unprecedented mid-season World Cup break.
Sean McLoughlin was handed his maiden league start of the season, while Ingram and Smith were given the nod for the first time since the Stoke City reverse in September.
Nathan Baxter, Tobias Figueiredo and Greg Docherty were named among the substitutes, along with Tufan, who was making his first return to the club for whom he played on loan last term.
Óscar Estupiñán was serving the final game of his three-match suspension for the red card he received in the scoreless stalemate at Millwall.
City started encouragingly in chilly Hertfordshire but were forced into an early change as Hamza Choudhury’s block tackle on Dimitrios Pelkas left both players unable to continue, with Docherty replacing the latter.
Neither side mustered an attempt on goal until the 25th minute when a towering Jacob Greaves glanced an innovative corner routine well wide from Jean Michaël Seri’s outswinging delivery.
A Cyrus Christie dart infield and cute reverse pass down the inside right channel set up a shooting chance for Tyler Smith but a covering Christian Kabasele made an important sliding block.
The high-flying Hornets were contained for half an hour but came alive as João Pedro collected Keinan Davis’ deft pass but his low strike was repelled by the outstretched left hand of Ingram.
Regan Slater’s tame shot was comfortable for Hornets keeper Daniel Bachmann as a tepid opening period reached a goalless conclusion.
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Watford: Bachmann; Ngakia, Cathcart ©, Kabasele, Kamara; Dele-Bashiru, Choudhury (Hungbo 15’ (Manaj 71’ (Bayo 92’))), Asprilla; Sema, Davis, Pedro.
Subs not used: Hamer, Gaspar, Troost-Ekong, Sierralta.
Hull City: Ingram; Christie, Jones, McLoughlin, Greaves; Seri, Woods (Figueiredo 74’); Longman, Pelkas (Docherty 10’ (Tufan 53’)), Slater; T Smith (Coyle 74’).
Subs not used: Baxter, Elder, Sinik.