Swansea 1 Watford 0
New Swansea head coach Francesco Guidolin saw his side ease their Premier League relegation worries with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Watford.
A rare Ashley Williams goal, headed home from inside the six-yard box after 27 minutes, was enough to give Swansea only a third win in 18 league attempts and lift them out of the bottom three at the expense of Newcastle.
It was far from pretty at times but that will not worry a Swansea side who inflicted a fourth straight league defeat on a Watford side suffering their worst run of the season.
Guidolin’s appointment was confirmed before kick-off and the former Parma, Palermo and Udinese coach took his place in the stand as Swansea sought to escape the bottom three.
The 60-year-old, who has brought in the former Chelsea midfielder Gabriele Ambrosetti to assist, will work alongside interim manager Alan Curtis, though the Italian will have the final say on team selection.
Guidolin witnessed a pretty drab opening with Jack Cork’s wayward effort the only shot in the first 20 minutes.
Watford barely mustered an attack in the first half but might have been awarded a penalty after 21 minutes when Kyle Naughton handled right on the edge of the area.
Odion Ighalo failed to direct his header goalwards under pressure from Federico Fernandez but, as Jose Manuel Jurado kept the move going, Naughton appeared to move his arm towards the ball.
Watford appeals were conspicuous by their absence, however, and the Hornets were soon behind after Andre Ayew had tested Hornets goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes for the first time.
Ki Sung-yueng retrieved a loose ball down the right and his cross was met by Williams, who took advantage of Miguel Britos misjudging the flight by directing his header goalwards for the first goal from any Swansea defender since March 2014.
It was only the fifth time Swansea had scored the first goal in 22 Premier League matches this term but it prompted a surge in confidence with the Watford defence at full stretch not to concede a second.
Jurado tried to spark Watford into life either side of the break with attempts from distance and Britos went close when he sent Ben Watson’s delicious free-kick on to the roof of the net.
Cork volleyed over for Swansea but there was an anxiety about their play which reflected the importance of the situation.
With main striker Ayew dropping ever deeper to influence matters, there was no central figure to hold the ball up and the lively Jurado fired wide as Watford pushed for an equaliser.
But Swansea saw their own penalty shout ignored when Watson leaned into Neil Taylor’s shot with referee Michael Oliver adjudging the contact was more shoulder than arm.
Watford came within inches of equalising late on when Juardo almost punished Taylor’s error but Swansea substitute Bafetimbi Gomis struck a post in stoppage time as they held on to move a point above Newcastle into 17th place.