A LATE Michael Chopra strike was enough to end Ipswich`s Watford hoodoo at the 16th attempt.
Chopra`s decisive 90th minute strike handed Paul Jewell`s side all three points at the death, despite heavy pressure from the Hornets.
Gianfranco Zola made three changes from the opening day victory over Crystal Palace with Lee Hodson and Daniel Pudil replacing Lloyd Doyley and Carl Dickinson at full-back. Sean Murray returned for John Eustace. Steve Leo Beleck and Ikechi Anya were amongst the substitutes.
Ipswich Town started the brighter with winger Lee Martin almost immediately testing Manuel Almunia with a right-footed drive from 20 yards. The Spanish ‘keeper alert enough early on to push the shot over the bar.
Watford came into the game slower, clearly missing the impact of skipper Eustace, it took Zola`s side until the 18th minute to test returning goalkeeper, Scott Loach.
Seizing on a ball from the right, Almen Abdi cut inside and crack a low drive into the palms of Loach from 20 yards.
Ten minutes later Almunia`s goal was under threat again when Spurs` loanee Massimo Luongo cracked a right-footed effort narrowly wide of the right-hand post from outside the area.
Just three minutes after the break Ipswich`s Jay Emmanuel-Thomas threatened when he cut in from the right and fizzed a low left-footed effort narrowly wide of the left-hand post.
Luongo was the next to come close for the visitors, sending in a dangerous left-footed effort at Almunia who elected to punch to safety.
Watford`s best chance up to that point came in the 65th minute when Mark Yeates shifted the ball left to Pudil who crossed for Matej Vydra. The Czech youngster controlled the cross well before seeing his shot blocked for a corner.
The Tractor Boys should have taken the lead with 22 minutes left to play, Lee Martin skipping down the right before firing in a cross which both Nyron Nosworthy and Chopra both failed to connect with.
In the 74th minute Watford came even closer, hitting the bar before substitute Anya procrastinated on the ball too long, seeing his shot blocked eventually.
,br>A minute later Abdi broke forward but also took too long on the ball, failing to release the onrushing trio of Anya, Chris Iwelumo and Vydra.
Abdi wasted another opportunity with nine left on the clock, heading tamely wide at the far-post after Pudil whipped in a left-footed cross.
Vydra had the Golden Boys` next chance, sending a low effort into the palms of Loach after Iwelumo had skittled the Town defence out the way following a long clearance.
Town substitute Jason Scotland should have scored when he half-volleyed a close-range effort straight into the palms of Almunia following fellow sub Andy Drury`s cross.
In the 90th minute, Town`s pressure told and after skipper Carlos Edwards sent in a teasing right-wing cross, Chopra arrived, sliding into the condemn the Hornets to their first competitive defeat under Zola.
Watford were quite unlucky to be fair, although Ipswich were also unlucky not to break the deadlock earlier. In an end-to-end game it always looked likely that a late goal would secure the win and Ipswich having had the better chances deserved it on balance.
We`re still only three competitive games into the season. The evolution from mix-and-match to ‘tiki taka` just won`t happen overnight.
Eustace was desperately missed in midfield and with Murray having a poor game in the middle, the Hornets were frequently outfoxed in the middle.
Ipswich Town: Loach; Edwards (c), Chambers, Smith, Cresswell; Martin, Hyam, Luongo, Emmanuel-Thomas (Drury); Carson (Scotland); Chopra (Delaney).
Subs not used: Lee-Barrett (GK), Ainsley, Murray & Stevenson.
Referee: Mr R East
Manuel Almunia – 7
Apart from one slip – from which he recovered well, the Spaniard continues to go from strength-to-strength in the Hornet’s goal.
Lee Hodson – 6
A tough ask up against Lee Martin and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas but never exposed.
Martin Taylor (c) – 6
Captain in Eustace’s absence, as calm and composed as ever.
Nyron Nosworthy – 7
Was in the way of EVERYTHING.
Daniel Pudil – 7
Got forward well without abandoning his defensive responsibilities.
Sean Murray – 5
Probably his worst game in a Watford shirt – anonymous.
Jonathan Hogg – 6
Standard whole-hearted display and definitely an improvement on the Wycombe game.
Almen Abdi – 6
Looked likely to make something happen but needs to put his foot in more.
Mark Yeates – 5
Started brightly before fading.
Joe Garner – 6
Worked hard and played well considering the lack of suitable service – i.e. mostly on his head.
Matej Vydra – 7
Always happy to carry the ball, but lacked an end product.
Chris Iwelumo – 6
Bigger impact than Garner in terms of his goal-threat. Should start vs. Brum.
Ikechi Anya – 5
Missed his golden opportunity. Otherwise quiet.
Don’t think he touched the ball during his handful of minutes.