Mostly in control, the Hornets took the lead when Tony McNamee crossed for Paul Devlin to nod in after 24 minutes. Just past the hour, Ashley Young extended their advantage and the match ended as a contest in the 70th minute when Steve Simonsen, the Stoke goalkeeper, was sent off for a professional foul on Young and Marlon King rifled the resulting penalty beyond substitute keeper Ed de Goey.
Flirting with promotion to the Premiership is a habit that Reading show no signs of breaking. Yet again among the early season pacemakers, Steve Coppell's second-placed side drew 1-1 at Coventry City. Stephen Bywater saved a penalty by Reading's Leroy Lita but Kevin Doyle made no mistake with his 68th-minute chance. As the Royals tried to run down the clock, Gary McSheffrey crossed and Robert Page headed Coventry's point-saving goal.
Having put England to the sword in Belfast, the Leeds United striker David Healy scored twice in five second-half minutes against brave Brighton at Elland Road, as the Yorkshire side came back to earn a 3-3 draw. Leon Knight, and Sebastien Carole had put Mark McGhee's side 2-0 up, then Healy struck. A Sean Gregan own goal seemed to have undone Leeds' comeback, but a first league goal for substitute Jonathan Douglas saved their blushes.
At the seventh attempt, Norwich City got their first win of the season, beating Plymouth Argyle, who sacked manager Bobby Williamson last week, 2-0 at Carrow Road. When Paul McVeigh broke away his shot was parried by Romain Larrieu, but the deflection hit Argyle defender Matthias Doumbe and the ball ambled over the line. Jurgen Colin's precise right-wing cross set up Dean Ashton's 37th minute tap-in.
"If we play like we did in the first half we will win more games than we lose," the relieved manager, Nigel Worthington, said. "From now on, we'll be going back to basics and I'm sure we'll be a better side as a result."
Crystal Palace had reacclimatised to Championship life quicker that Norwich as a 2-0 defeat of Hull City confirmed. Clinton Morrison scored on his first match at Selhurst Park since his return from Birmingham City, and Andrew Johnson wrapped it up late on. Palace move up five to ninth.
Harry Redknapp's attempts to fashion a Southampton promotion challenge stalled at St Mary's when Danny Shittu headed in Lee Cook's corner to give Queen's Park Rangers a 32nd-minute lead. It lasted five minutes until Danny Higginbotham drilled in a fine free-kick. The match ended 1-1.
Elsewhere, Mark de Vries scored twice for Leicester City as they beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-0, and Wade Elliott was also on target twice for Burnley in their 3-3 draw with Cardiff City, while the bottom club Millwall lost 2-1 to visitors Preston North End.
The League One leaders, Brentford, beat Milton Keynes Dons 1-0 but there are desperate times for two of the divisions formerly illustrious clubs. Nottingham Forest's decline continues, their 2-0 reverse at Barnsley dropping them into the relegation zone, a place above Bristol City, who were humbled 7-1 at Swansea City, Kevin McLeod scoring a hat-trick. Remarkably, with the score at 7-1, Swansea had Kevin Austin sent off for violent conduct. Now that is commitment.Reuse content