WATFORD SECURED only their second win ever at Pride Park thanks to goals from Sean Murray and Troy Deeney.
Alex Kacaniklic played his part in victory too with a pair of assists. Murray opened the scoring after just eight minutes when he tapped in from Kacaniklic`s low centre. After just 15 minutes it was 2-0 to the Hornets with Kacaniklic once again providing, this time for Deeney who finished with a deflection. The Rams pulled one back when Ben Davies swung in a free-kick, but despite late pressure, the Hornets clung on for their fourth away win of the campaign.
Sean Dyche made two changes for the Hornets with Dale Bennett and Chris Iwelumo dropping out. Joe Garner replaced the Scottish forward up front whilst Nyron Nosworthy, back from illness, came in for the battered and bruised Bennett.
Derby County made just one change with Jake Buxton coming in at left-back for Gareth Roberts.
Watford took the lead in the 11th minute after a bright start. Kacaniklic made good progress down the left before pulling the ball into the middle for fellow wide man Murray who was left with a simple finish.
Kacaniklic could have doubled the lead himself just seconds after the re-start when he fired narrowly wide of Frank Fielding`s left-hand post having exposed makeshift right-back, Paul Green.
Kacaniklic was at the heart of the ‘Orns second as well, coming just seven minutes after the first.
The Swede drove fully 40 yards before setting Deeney who finished with the aid of a deflection.
With their first effort on target, the Rams pulled one back when Davies swung a free-kick into the Hornet`s penalty area before bouncing into the top-corner.
Kacaniklic had the first chance of the second period but lashed over on his right-foot when well-placed to meet Deeney`s pull-back.
A couple of minutes later Murray should have looked up and fed Deeney but instead elected to shoot into the side-netting after robbing Rams centre-back, Jason Shackell.
With 20 minutes to play, the hosts carved Watford open for the first time when substitute Nathan Tyson burst down the left and saw his cross superbly blocked by Nyron Nosworthy for a corner.
Another substitute, Callum Ball, came close when he volleyed at Tomasz Kuszczak out of nothing, but the Pole saved well.
Watford could well have had a penalty as time began to trickle away, Kacaniklic brought down as he darted into the Ram`s penalty area.
The Derby pressure continued and substitute James Bailey would have equalised for his side from the edge of the area had Kuszczak not been in flying form.
Derby County: Fielding; Green, Barker (c), Shackell, Buxton; Hendrick (Bailey), Carroll (Tyson), Bryson, B. Davies (Ball); Robinson & S. Davies.
Subs not used: Legzdins (gk) & Naylor.
Watford: Kuszczak; Doyley, Mariappa, Nosworthy, Dickinson; Murray (Buaben), Eustace (c), Hogg, Kacaniklic; Garner (Iwelumo) & Deeney (Taylor).
Subs not used: Loach (gk) & Trotta.
Attendance: 23 130
Referee: Mr S Mathieson.