Newcastle extended their lead at the top of the Championship to six points with a workmanlike victory at Watford.
The visitors were in front as early as the fourth minute when Fabricio Coloccini headed in from close range following a Danny Guthrie free-kick.
Just after half-time, Andy Carroll rose to powerfully head home a Guthrie corner to double United's lead.
Will Hoskins gave Watford hope with a late strike but Newcastle held out for a win their performance merited.
Newcastle have now been beaten only once in 19 matches since Chris Hughton was appointed boss on a permanent basis in October last year - and that is the best start ever by a Magpies manager.
Their performance at Vicarage Road was not scintillating but bore all the hallmarks of a side who look unlikely to throw away a healthy table-topping lead.
In contrast, Watford continue to struggle to produce a string of results that could prevent them becoming embroiled in a relegation battle.
Most worryingly for boss Malky Mackay was that they held the larger share of possession throughout this match but were unable to produce anything to truly hurt the visitors.
Having won their last two games at home, and with Newcastle having failed to register a victory in their previous five away games, Watford predictably began on the front foot.
Danny Graham twice set up chances in the opening two minutes, the first for Don Cowie, which he fired wide and the second for Jon Harley, which Steve Harper was able to palm skywards before collecting.
However, Newcastle have demonstrated this season they are finer than any side in the Championship at exposing fallibility and the first time Watford's defence was tested it was found wanting.
Danny Guthrie's free-kick from the left was firstly touched on by Kevin Nolan before Andy Carroll headed back across goal for Coloccini to climb above his marker and nod in from close range.
Having conceded only 22 Championship goals so far this season, Newcastle have the joint best defensive record in the division and for the remainder of the half they gave an insight into why.
They effectively stifled the home side, smothering potential attacks before they had time to develop and denying them too many attempts on goal.
Midway through the half there were half-hearted calls for a penalty when Hornets striker Heidar Helguson fell in the box following a standing challenge from behind by Danny Simpson, but referee Tony Bates waved play on much to the increased frustration of the home support.
Just as they had in the first half, Newcastle scored early in the second to strengthen their stranglehold on the match.
A Guthrie corner from the left and was met by Carroll, who beat Jay DeMerit in the air and hammered a header past Watford goalkeeper Scott Loach.
Watford continued to press but the few threats they did pose were comfortably averted by the visitors.
Mike Williamson's last-ditch intervention prevented Helguson from getting on the end of a right-wing cross from Graham.
Then, Watford substitute Steve McGinn had a great opportunity to test Harper but when a tame clearance fell to him unmarked and 12 yards out he failed to connect properly with an attempted volley and the chance was lost.
In the final minute, they eventually broke through when a deflected shot broke to Will Hoskins, unmarked and 10 yards out, and he slammed home.
However, the goal came too late and Newcastle held on for the win.
Watford manager Malky Mackay: "When you look at the balance of play I think that we deserved something out of the game.
"We were playing the top team in the league and I think we coped well with the fact they decided to go long today. We won a lot of ball back off that and I thought we kept possession well and dominated play at times.
"I think it was our final ball that let us down today because we certainly got into the forward areas well."
Newcastle boss Chris Hughton: "It's a tough place to come. They are side that have got a lot energy, they played very well at St James' Park earlier in the season.
"The first goal obviously set us off and we had a period in the second half where we were very comfortable and probably the only disappointing note of the afternoon was conceding the goal when we did."
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