BY MATT WOOSNAM
A fine volley from Tom Cleverley earned Watford a deserved victory over Crystal Palace in a tight match.
With just three minutes played Watford should have taken the lead. Gerard Deulofeu slipped past two Palace defenders and unleashed an effort which struck the post, before Roberto Prereya remarkably fired the rebound against the upright as the hosts survived.
Palace dealt well with the Hornets attempts to counter-attack, but were aided by poor passing in the final third as a scrappy game beset by individual errors crept in.
On 22 minutes Jordan Ayew did well to head Luka Milivojevic’s cross towards goal after nudging his man out of the way, only to see his effort loop over Foster’s crossbar.
But the opener in a dour game arrived in somewhat comical fashion with seven minutes remaining before the break.
James Tomkins rose highest to meet a corner, only to see Foster tip it over and out for another corner.
From that came the goal. Two Watford defenders attempted to clear, but succeeded in only putting the ball in the back of their own net after it deflected off the unfortunate Craig Cathcart and over the line.
Wilfried Zaha missed a glorious chance early in the second half after Jordan Ayew hassled the Watford defence, the ball fell gratefully to the forward but he made it obvious to Ben Foster which way he would shoot and the goalkeeper got down well to save.
Just after the hour mark Milivojevic struck a stunning effort from distance which looked destined for the top corner and had Foster scrambling to keep it out which he somehow succeeded in doing.
Five minutes later Cathcart made amends and pulled his side level after nodding home Jose Holebas’ corner at the back post.
They almost had the lead when Deulofeu pulled the ball back and it was fired towards goal, only to see Aaron Wan-Bissaka clear off the line.
But substitute Tom Cleverley then fired a stunning volley into the top corner to turn the game on its head with the Eagles defending poorly once again.