Bradford were denied a point at Vicarage Road after Neil Cox`s last-gasp penalty condemned them to their eighth straight away defeat and snatched a 1-0 victory for Watford.
The home side had dominated for much of the match but failed to break Bradford`s defence down until the 90th minute when Lewis Emanuel fouled Jermaine Pennant and Cox made no mistake with the resulting spot-kick.
Bradford had created little as an attacking force, although Claus Jorgensen went close with a 30-yard volley which Alec Chamberlain did well to tip round the post.
But otherwise the Bantams struggled to create chances, hardly surprising considering manager Nicky Law was unable to field a recognised striker, with Delroy Facey and Harpal Singh`s loan spells having ended and Ashley Ward and Danny Cadamarteri still injured.
Andy Tod was brought in as a makeshift forward - his first appearance since August following a hernia operation - while Mark Bower replaced Andy Myers in defence after the latter also underwent surgery.
Watford manager Ray Lewington made just one change to the side that was beaten 4-2 at Ipswich, with Paulo Vernazza replacing the injured Stephen Glass, but there was no place in the squad for new signing Wayne Brown.
Both sides forced early corners that came to nothing but Bradford goalkeeper Aidan Davison was soon called into action and had to use his feet to keep out Heidar Helguson`s shot.
Watford midfielder Micah Hyde tried his luck in the 26th minute from outside the area but saw his right-foot volley held by Davison.
Helguson volleyed wide on the half-hour mark before Cox headed over from Allan Nielsen`s inswinging corner.
Pennant curled a left-foot shot over as Watford looked to step up a gear but they suffered a setback when Helguson was injured just before half-time and had to be replaced by Dominic Foley.
Foley almost made an immediate impact in the second half but his well-struck left-foot shot was parried by Davison before two minutes later Paul Robinson shot wide.
Bower became the first player to be booked in the 59th minute for a foul on Pennant but the resulting free-kick by Neal Ardley was held by Davison.
Bradford could have taken the lead against the run of play just after the hour when Jorgensen unleashed a superb 30-yard volley which was brilliantly tipped round the post by Chamberlain.
The Watford goalkeeper then did well to hold an Andy Gray free-kick, prompting Lewington to make a double substitution with Tommy Smith and Vernazza making way for Gifton Noel-Williams and Anthony McNamee.
Jamie Lawrence joined team-mate Bower in the referee`s notebook - also for a foul on Pennant - but again the free-kick, this time taken by Foley, could not beat Davison.
Paul Evans was also shown the yellow card after bringing down Robinson before Cox kept his cool to grab the winner from the spot.
There was still time for Bradford duo Gray and Peter Atherton to be booked, with five yellow cards only adding to their misery.