Odion Ighalo’s excellent second half strike helped guide Watford into poll position at the top of the Sky Bet Championship as they beat promotion contenders Middlesbrough 2-0 at Vicarage Road.
During the first half it was poor defending from captain Jonathan Woodgate which handed Troy Deeney his twentieth goal of the season and the Hornets three precious points.
Both sides now sit in the automatic promotion spots but can be overtaken later today by A.F.C Bournemouth and Norwich City who both play at home.
Slavisa Jokanovic and Aitor Karanka will hope to continue fighting for Premier League promotion on Saturday against relegation candidates Millwall and Rotherham respectively.
Early on a lively Ben Watson found Ighalo on numerous occasions but was unable to get a shot away.
In the tenth minute an early chance came from an Ikechi Anya cross to Deeney who nodded wide moments before Grant Leadbitter struck a freekick near the halfway line which tested Heurelho Gomes.
Anya himself had a great chance when he got past Dwight Tiendalli with ease and played a quick one-two pass with Ighalo before forcing a save from Dimitrios Konstantopoulos.
Further opportunities from Gabriele Angella and Deeney came before Deeney himself hit the back of the net as he found himself unmarked after receiving a delightful ball from Adlene Guedioura in the 37th minute.
In the second half Boro found themselves with much more of the ball but rarely troubled Gomes, who found himself in a bit of bother after Patrick Bamford’s very high foot clipped him in the neck.
Soon after Watson hit a sweet strike which came off Leadbitter before providing the pass for Ighalo’s goal who switched the ball between his feet before firing in outside the box on his left foot.
Guedioura hit a phenomenal side footed volley towards the top corner in the 81st minute which saw a brilliant save from Konstantopoulos.