A late strike from substitute Cristian Battocchio fired Watford to their third straight Championship win as they overcame Wigan in a tight contest.
Italian Under-21 midfielder Battocchio lashed home from the edge of the area with eight minutes remaining after Davide Faraoni's shot was blocked.
In a game of few chances, Wigan were frustrated when Nick Powell's strike was ruled out for offside.
Powell and James McClean then missed chances as the hosts ground out a win.
Watford started brightly and had the first good chance when Daniel Pudil's side-footed effort was saved by Latics keeper Scott Carson.
Soon afterwards Powell had the ball in the net for Wigan, but the goal was ruled out for a marginal offside decision.
The tempo of the game dropped for the rest of the first half, but the Hornets tried to up the pace after the break as Fernando Forestieri and Lewis McGugan had shots blocked.
Watford keeper Manuel Almunia made a smart double save, first to foil Powell and then McClean on the rebound, to deny the visitors.
Wigan boss Owen Coyle felt his side should have won a penalty when Lloyd Doyley tangled with Powell in the box, and his mood worsened when the Latics fell behind.
The goal arrived when substitute Faraoni's strike cannoned to the edge of the penalty area, where Battocchio placed a right-footed shot past the unsighted Carson.
Diego Fabbrini almost added a second in injury-time, but his powerful strike across goal was tipped away by the Latics keeper.
Watford manager Gianfranco Zola:
"It was a typical game between two top teams where the values of the teams are very similar, so there's a kind of equilibrium on the pitch and you just have to be patient, keep working hard and wait for your opportunity to come.
"That's exactly what happened today. Don't forget also it was the fifth game in two weeks and that counts, so the quality of the game cannot be fantastic.
"But we showed a lot of character to win this game and that is something that will be very important from now until the end of the season."
Wigan manager Owen Coyle:
"We were terrific today. Watford are a very good side and will challenge - as we will - to get back to the Premier League, but to come here and give the level of performance we did with our fourth game in nine days, the players were an absolute credit.
"We scored a perfectly good goal - I don't envy the referee, or the officials, their job. At this level we understand little fouls sometimes you'll get, sometimes you won't - but you've got to get the major decisions right."
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Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee blows for the end of the match.90:00 +3:56
Joel Ekstrand makes a clearance.90:00 +3:41
Ben Watson takes the free kick.90:00 +3:34
Unfair challenge on Nick Powell by Gabriele Angella results in a free kick.90:00 +2:51
Scott Carson manages to make a clearance.90:00 +2:04
Fernando Forestieri takes the chance to get an effort at goal and missed to the left of the net.90:00 +1:35
Corner taken by Troy Deeney.90:00 +1:17
Shot by Diego Fabbrini.90:00 +0:42
James McClean crosses the ball.89:31
Free kick taken by Scott Carson.89:18
The assistant referee signals for offside against Diego Fabbrini.88:25
Callum McManaman sends in a cross.86:26
Free kick taken by Lewis McGugan.86:04 Substitution
Substitution Thomas Rogne goes off and Emmerson Boyce comes on.82:05 Booking
Booking for Cristian Battocchio for unsporting behaviour.83:42
Free kick taken by Fernando Forestieri.83:24
Free kick awarded for a foul by James McClean on Diego Fabbrini.82:00 Goal scored
Goal! - Cristian Battocchio - Watford 1 - 0 Wigan Cristian Battocchio scores with their right foot. Watford 1-0 Wigan.81:12
Callum McManaman crosses the ball.
Callum McManaman sends in a cross.79:33
Cristian Battocchio restarts play with the free kick.79:11
Ben Watson challenges Fernando Forestieri unfairly and gives away a free kick.78:25 Substitution
Substitution Diego Fabbrini joins the action as a substitute, replacing Santos Iriney.75:16
Jordi Gomez restarts play with the free kick.75:08
Free kick awarded for a foul by Lewis McGugan on Ryan Shotton.74:29
Shot by Ryan Shotton missed to the right of the target.74:14
Corner taken by Ben Watson.73:51
Clearance by Gabriele Angella.73:42
A cross is delivered by Callum McManaman.72:41
Shot by Lewis McGugan went wide left of the target.70:56
Free kick taken by Lloyd Doyley.70:47
The referee penalises Callum McManaman for handball.68:53
James McClean has an effort at goal.67:46
Ben Watson takes the free kick.67:29
Gabriele Angella gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Nick Powell.66:08
Scott Carson makes a clearance.65:53
Manuel Almunia takes the free kick.65:43 Substitution
Substitution (Watford) makes a substitution, with Marco Faraoni coming on for Daniel Pudil.65:23
The referee blows for offside.64:40
Free kick taken by Gabriele Angella.64:30
Unfair challenge on Gabriele Angella by James McArthur results in a free kick.63:36
Lewis McGugan produces a cross.63:07
Gabriele Angella takes the free kick.62:54 Booking
Caution for Ben Watson.62:48
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ikechi Anya by Ben Watson.62:19
Free kick taken by Leon Barnett.61:45 Booking
The referee shows Santos Iriney a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.61:41
Santos Iriney gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jordi Gomez.59:34
Clearance by Gabriele Angella.56:50 Substitution
Substitution (Watford) makes a substitution, with Cristian Battocchio coming on for Sean Murray.56:27
Lewis McGugan takes a shot and missed to the right of the goal.52:37
Ikechi Anya delivers the ball.49:56
Ben Watson restarts play with the free kick.49:35
Gabriele Angella challenges Jordi Gomez unfairly and gives away a free kick.48:18
The ball is crossed by Lewis McGugan.46:56
Scott Carson manages to make a clearance.46:50
Corner from the left by-line taken by Lewis McGugan.46:26
Lewis McGugan takes the chance to get an effort at goal.45:01
The referee blows the whistle to start the second half.45:00 +0:59 Half time
Half Time The referee calls an end to the first half.44:59
Free kick taken by Lloyd Doyley.44:55
The referee blows for offside.44:47
Free kick taken by Ben Watson.44:42
Sean Murray gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Thomas Rogne.41:59
Ben Watson restarts play with the free kick.41:51
Lewis McGugan concedes a free kick for a foul on Thomas Rogne.39:32
Ben Watson restarts play with the free kick.39:18
Leon Barnett fouled by Troy Deeney, the ref awards a free kick.39:00
Header by Jordi Gomez misses left.38:51
The ball is crossed by James Perch.36:14
Ben Watson takes the free kick.34:30
Sean Murray takes the free kick.33:47
Ben Watson challenges Fernando Forestieri unfairly and gives away a free kick.30:01
Jordi Gomez fires a strike on goal direct from the free kick. Manuel Almunia safely holds on.28:56
Unfair challenge on Callum McManaman by Santos Iriney results in a free kick.26:07
Lewis McGugan restarts play with the free kick.25:44
Foul by Leon Barnett on Fernando Forestieri, free kick awarded.24:52
Shot by Lewis McGugan missed to the left of goal.24:33
Sean Murray restarts play with the free kick.24:28
Leon Barnett gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Troy Deeney.24:01 Substitution
Substitution Marc-Antoine Fortune leaves the field to be replaced by Callum McManaman.23:44
Header by Thomas Rogne goes over the bar.23:36
Corner taken by Ben Watson.23:13
Jordi Gomez has an effort at goal.17:01
Lloyd Doyley restarts play with the free kick.16:54
James McClean is ruled offside.13:18
Daniel Pudil takes a shot and went wide of the left-hand post.12:57
Clearance made by Marc-Antoine Fortune.12:46
Corner from the right by-line taken by Sean Murray.10:26
The ball is delivered by Sean Murray.9:53
Shot by Daniel Pudil.5:54
Lewis McGugan has a direct shot on goal from the free kick which goes over the bar.5:25
Ben Watson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Sean Murray.4:40
Marc-Antoine Fortune produces a cross.4:06
Daniel Pudil takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Scott Carson catches the ball.3:35
Free kick taken by Lloyd Doyley.3:26
James McArthur gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Sean Murray.1:19
Shot by James McArthur went wide left of the goal.0:24
Santos Iriney takes the free kick.0:19
James McArthur is penalised for a handball.0:00
The referee gets the game underway.
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