Ryan Hedges produced a moment of real quality as Rovers secured a hard-fought 1-0 victory at Watford.

Hedges had been on the bench for the first couple of league games but had the final say against the Hornets after a sweet strike.

The result saw Rovers return to winning ways after a cruel defeat against Hull City a week prior, playing most of the game with 10 men but still taking the lead.

Jon Dahl Tomasson made one change from the side that lost against the Tigers, with Callum Brittain slotting in at left-back as expected while Harry Pickering was unavailable through suspension.

Harry Leonard got the nod up front once again, with Niall Ennis out injured and Sam Gallagher named on the bench. Gallagher had missed several days of training in the build-up to the game after becoming a father.

Republic of Ireland Under-21 midfielder Andrew Moran came into the squad after joining on a season-long loan from Brighton.

Young pair Pat Gamble and Tom Bloxham made the bench for the first time in the league, while John Buckley was absent the squad.

New Watford signing Mileta Rajovic was named on the bench after arriving from Swedish top flight side Kalmar FF.

There was a special moment ahead of kick-off as Lewis Travis presented flowers to the sister of Matt Sillitoe, who sadly died aged 30. Sillitoe had worked in a number of roles at the club and was the voice of Ewood Park for more than a decade.

Watford started on the front foot and looked to ask questions of the Rovers defence, with Matheus Martins seeing a shot blocked from the edge of the area.

But Tomasson’s men soon found their feet and looked tidy in possession, playing out from the back despite the hosts’ pressing.

Hedges nearly took advantage of a defensive error but couldn’t quite pick out a team-mate in the box after showing determination to keep the ball in play.

Space then opened up for Travis to go for goal after a clever short corner routine, but the midfielder failed to test Daniel Bachmann in the Watford goal.

Sam Szmodics also looked lively, refusing to give the hosts’ backline time to settle on the ball, and forced Bachmann into a decent stop after bursting into the box.

Aynsley Pears made a fine save low to his left at the other end, getting a strong hand to Martins’ strike after some good work by Tom Dele-Bashiru.

The Udinese loanee thought he had opened the scoring after half an hour but his thumping effort from distance cannoned off the crossbar. Pears would have had no chance hid it been a few inches lower.

Both sets of supporters took part in a minute’s applause to honour Sillitoe in the 30th minute and his picture was displayed on the big screen.

Hedges managed to find a pocket of space in the box and flashed across goal, but Leonard couldn’t quite get on the end of it at full stretch.

The hosts cranked up the pressure in the final stages of the first half, with Martins sending a free kick over the bar before Dom Hyam made a brave block to deny Dele-Bashiru.

Watford picked up where they left off after the break, with Martins sending another ambitious effort just wide of the top corner.

Tomasson made a double change before the hour mark, with Moran getting his first minutes in a Rovers shirt. Gallagher also joined the fray, with Tyrhys Dolan and Leonard making way.

Moran was immediately involved in the action, seeing a first-time effort saved by Bachmann after a good run by Hedges.

Watford also made a double change, with Giorgi Chakvetadze and Rajovic coming on – the latter’s first appearance at Vicarage Road.

The hosts had a penalty appeal turned down by referee Gavin Ward when the ball struck Hyam in the box. It would have been a harsh call as the defender went to ground in an attempt to make another block.

Hyam continued to find himself in the thick of the action, going into the book moments later after bringing down his man on the edge of the box. Imran Louza fired over after the resulting free kick was played short.

Rajovic managed to get in behind the Rovers backline midway through the second half but failed to hit the target. There was a sense of excitement from the home fans every time the new signing touched the ball.

Tomasson’s men hadn’t had much joy in the final third during the second half but grew in belief as the hosts started to tire and spaces opened up.

Hedges broke the deadlock with a moment of real quality, skipping past a challenge and lashing home from a tight angle after a lovely bit of skill. Gallagher had done well in the build-up to slip in Travis.

In response, Watford brought on Tom Ince, who was also making his first appearance at Vicarage Road after joining from Reading over the summer.

Joe Rankin-Costello made way 13 minutes from time, with Scott Wharton making his first league appearance of the campaign. Wharton slotted in at centre-back, with Hayden Carter moving over to the right of defence.

Pears then made another fine stop to tip Martins’ low drive onto the post. The Watford man must have been wondering how he hadn’t got on the scoresheet after a number of close calls.

Rovers faced wave after wave of pressure in the final stages but stood firm to ensure they would return to the North West with all three points.

It was an impressive result on the road, with Watford tipped to challenge for a top six spot this season by many.

Tomasson’s side can take plenty of confidence heading into their cup clash at Harrogate on Wednesday night. Rovers also make the long trip to Plymouth several days later.

But the league table is looking promising at this early stage as the club aims to build on last season’s seventh-place finish – their best in a decade since dropping out of the Premier League.

Pears, Rankin-Costello (S Wharton 77), Carter, Hyam, Brittain, Travis (Garrett 95), A Wharton, Szmodics, Hedges, Leonard (Gallagher 57), Dolan (Moran 57)

Subs: Wahlstedt, Gamble, Tronstad, Markanday, Bloxham