David McGoldrick’s ninth goal of the season wasn’t enough to give Town a first home win over Watford in nine years.
Town’s top scorer converted Blues’ first penalty of the season after Gabriele Angella was judged to have handled 17 minutes from time.
Watford levelled the scores on 81 minutes through Troy Deeney but Town were inches away from a winner just before the final whistle when Luke Hyam headed against the bar after Manuel Almunia had saved from McGoldrick.
Town stayed with the same side that drew at Nottingham Forest last week, with Blues’ man of the match at the City Ground, Dean Gerken, soon in action at Portman Road, the ‘keeper beating Deeney to Luke Chambers’ underhit backpass.
Gerken then dealt well with Lewis McGugan’s dangerous free-kick before Tommy Smith picked up a yellow card for a foul on Deeney.
Town responded with Daryl Murphy’s cross into the box punched cleared by Almunia at full stretch, then McGoldrick created something out of nothing with a spin and cross that just evaded Murphy.
Diego Fabbrini rattled the post with a shot from the angle as Watford continued to threaten on the break, Frank Nouble then doing well with a terrific tackle to stop McGugan after the midfielder had broke away following a Town corner that saw Smith send a header goalwards.
McGoldrick brought a terrific save from Almunia in Town’s best effort of the first-half, the ‘keeper just doing enough to tip the ball over the bar.
Murphy headed wide from McGoldrick’s cross, the former Forest striker then fired over the bar from a well-worked free-kick before Nouble forced his way through two defenders then warmed the hands of Almunia with a right foot blast just before the break.
Aaron Cresswell fizzed in a cross that was put behind for a corner by Gabriele Angella as the second-half got underway, McGoldrick sending an ambitious effort from distance well wide.
Ryan Tunnicliffe and Nouble both had shots blocked on the edge of the box, Watford responding with Sean Murray denied by Gerken at the near post.
Town got the breakthrough on 72 minutes, Angella judged to have handled Nouble’s cross. Joel Ekstrand was booked for his protests and McGoldrick did the rest from the spot.
Cristian Battocchio replaced Murray, Ikechi Anya on for Daniel Pudil as Watford changed things around for the last 10 minutes.
The Hornets got their reward immediately, Marco Cassetti’s cross diverted in by Deeney at the nearpost.
Watford made a third change with Fernando Forestieri entering the fray for Fabbrini.
Town almost won it on 87 minutes, McGoldrick’s shot was beaten out by Almunia, Hyam headed against the bar and Nouble’s follow up shot went wide and with it that first win over the Hornets since March 2004.