SAINTS failed to score for the fourth time in five games during their second successive home defeat.

Long-range strikes in each half, from Abdoulaye Doucoure and substitute Daryl Janmaat, secured Watford a deserved 2-0 win.

Saints failed to test Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes with a shot on target until Cedric Soares’ effort was saved in injury time.

Doucoure drove in the first goal in the 38th-minute and Janmaat fired the 66th-minute second across goal, into the bottom right corner of Fraser Forster’s net, five minutes after coming on.

Saints were booed off at half-time.

Watford were by far the more threatening side during the first half but neither side managed a shot on target until Doucoure’s strike.

Tall, athletic and comfortable on the ball, Wesley Hoedt made his Premier League debut following his £15m move from Lazio.

But the first half was a stop-start affair with precious little in the way of incident for the most part.

Nathaniel Chalobah, a Saints target during the summer, was at the heart of Watford’s best moments.

On more than one occasion, Jack Stephens needed to be alert to cut out the rangy midfielder’s attempted through balls to Andre Gray.

Nathan Redmond flickered briefly for Saints.

On one of the few occasions that Saints threatened, Redmond’s attempted through ball was also cut out as the home side tried in vain to counter attack.

After receiving the ball in the centre circle, Redmond then turned Kiko Femenia and played in James Ward-Prowse, who started just behind Manolo Gabbiadini at the apex of Saints’ midfield diamond.

When Ward-Prowse found Gabbiadini inside the area, the Italian could not get a shot away.

Redmond swapped flanks with Boufal in a bid to try and attack Watford down the visitors’ left flank.

But Saints’ frustrations were clear for all to see as he remonstrated with Pellegrino while the manager attempted to get his point across from the technical area.

Saints continued to struggle for any fluency. Boufal’s pull-back failed to find a Saints player and referee Lee Probert had words with Cedric Soares after he gave away a foul.

When Boufal fouled Femenia, Saints were relieved to see it curl just wide of Fraser Forster’s left-hand upright.

Applause echoed around St Mary’s during the 22nd minute in tribute to Jamie Isherwood, a Northam stand season ticket holder who died of a heart attack recently.

Then, just when it looked as though the first half would finish goalless, Doucoure thumped in his 38th-minute half-volley.

His initial challenge deflected to the edge of the area and it sat up perfectly for him to thump a right-footer into the bottom left corner of Forster’s goal.

It was a sucker punch reminiscent of Etienne Capoue’s goal when Watford draw at St Mary’s on the opening day of last season.

Watford’s tails were up and they threatened to double their lead before the break.

Richarlison whipped a deflected 25-yarder into the sidenetting and Doucoure fired over after being teed up on the edge of the area following a good move down the left.

Desperate for an injection of creativity, Saints began the second half with Dusan Tadic on for Ward-Prowse.

Chalobah fired straight at Forster at the start of the second period but hopes were raised among the home supporters when Tadic's trickery along the byline helped to find Ryan Bertrand, who won a corner.

But Saints continued to struggle.

Bertrand soon conceded a corner after a mix-up with Forster as he tried to shepherd the ball to his goalkeeper.

Boufal thumped the turf in frustration when his left-footer sailed into the stands from Bertrand’s pass.

Watford made a double substitution on the hour. Defender Younes Kaboul limped off to be replaced by Adrian Mariappa while Daryl Janmaat came on for Kiko Femenia.

Within five minutes, Janmaat doubled Watford’s lead from around 25 yards out.

The Dutch right-back’s spectacular strike into the bottom of the far corner was a welcome sight for the vocal Watford fans.

Gabbiadini, who played the last ten minutes of Italy’s 3-0 defeat to Spain last week, was taken off to be replaced by Long for the last 20 minutes.

A minute later Charlie Austin came on for Boufal, but still Saints failed to deliver a final ball of any quality.

They were fortunate not to concede more.

Daily Echo:

SAINTS: Forster, Cedric, Stephens, Hoedt, Bertrand, Romeu, Davis, Redmond, Boufal, Ward-Prowse (Tadic 46), Gabbiadini (Long 69). SUBS:McCarthy, Yoshida, McQueen, Lemina, Austin.

WATFORD: Gomes, Femenia (Janmaat 60), Kaboul (Mariappa 60), Holebas, Doucoure, Chalobah, Carrillo, Cleverley, Richarilson, Gray (Deeney 84). SUBS: Karnezis, Watson, Capoue, Success.