Watford’s search for Premier League survival hit another stumbling block as they were beaten 3-1 at home by Southampton.

Following their defeat at Burnley on Thursday evening head coach Nigel Pearson said his side lacked cohesion, but there was even less of it on show at Vicarage Road as the visiting team took all three points with relative ease.

Two goals from Danny Ings either side of half-time put Southampton in a good position before Jan Bednarek turned the ball into his own net and halved the deficit with ten minutes remaining. However a James Ward-Prowse free kick soon after meant the defender’s own goal was of little consequence in the end.

The Hornets went into the game without Andre Gray, Nathaniel Chalobah and Domingos Quina, all of whom had been omitted from the squad for safety reasons, after defying the government’s lockdown regulations at a party over the weekend.

They also made three additional changes with Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley and Christian Kabasele dropping to the bench and Roberto Pereyra, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Craig Cathcart taking their places.

After a fairly turgid opening quarter-of-an-hour in which the ball was sent back and forth between the two sides like a tennis match, the visitors took the lead. Ings was given far too much space by the Watford defenders as he drove down the centre before he took aim from the edge of the area and found the bottom corner with his right-footed strike.

The rest of the half saw little in the way of improvement and it would take until the second-half for Watford to play with any belief.

Their creative output improved after the half-time whistle, but an end product continued to evade them, as crosses, corners and balls forward were all swept away with relative ease by the visiting defenders, who then doubled their advantage mid-way through the second-half.

While the Hornets had been accommodating for Ings’ first goal, they practically handed him his second.

Ben Foster’s throw out towards Adam Masina went straight to the Saints’ number nine and Dawson backed off enough to let the striker make his way into the area and rifle past the keeper to make Watford’s task even more difficult.

Substitute Jose Holebas looked to have given the home side some cause for optimism with ten minutes remaining when his cross was prodded past Alex McCarthy in the Saints goal by Bednarek, but Ward-Prowse’s free-kick from the edge of the area re-established the Saints’ two goal lead just moments later.

Things could have been worse for Watford with Che Adams forcing a smart save out of Foster from a one-on-one after getting the better of Dawson, before Nathan Redmond’s curling effort was only kept out by the foot of the post.

Six games remain now for Watford this season and they need to make the most of them while things are still in their hands, starting with a difficult game next week away at Chelsea.