Gianfranco Zola toasted one of the most important victories of his Watford reign as they moved one point behind second-placed Hull with a 1-0 victory at the KC Stadium.
The stakes were high with the Hornets, who were winless in their last three, knowing a defeat would all but end their hopes of finishing inside the npower Championship's top two. Yet Zola's men rose to the challenge and Troy Deeney's fine 20-yard strike four minutes before the break was enough to settle a nervy contest in the visitors' favour.
The magnitude of the victory was not lost on Zola, and the Italian said: "This team never lets me down. Every time there's a game which is very important they always perform. That shows you the character and temperament of this group."
He added: "This was a six-pointer. It was even more difficult than the other ones.
"They would have gone seven points clear with six games to go and you can imagine with the good team that they are, and with a good manager like Steve (Bruce) is, it would have been such a difficult thing to catch up with them."
The victorious Watford side showed plenty of emotion at the final whistle and Zola attributed that to a release of tension which had gripped the squad prior to kick-off.
He added: "Normally they're very lively, very chatty but you could see the tension. They really wanted this result and they got it in, I believe, a good way."
While Deeney's strike set Watford's automatic promotion charge back on course, Hull were left to reflect on an evening where their recent inconsistent form continued. However, Tigers boss Bruce does not believe the loss will serve as a psychological blow to his squad down the final stretch.
He said: "It would have given us a nice lead and a nice cushion with six games to go but I've been at the club eight months and know we're not going to do things easy and I've never done things easy.
"If we're going to do it (automatic promotion), we're going to do it the hard way like you'd expect the Championship to be, even with six games to go I'd still expect there to be twists and turns in it."