Owen Garvan scored twice in as many minutes as Crystal Palace, the Championship's bottom club, won a thriller at Selhurst Park. The Eagles, with just one win in their previous nine matches, were leading through Darren Ambrose's curler only for Watford to hit back twice after the break.
However Garvan, the summer signing from Ipswich, condemned Watford to a third defeat in four matches with two long-range drives. "Owen is the only player I've spent any money on and he showed his quality," said the Palace manager George Burley. "It's not a nice feeling, not winning games, and we haven't been. But they were three outstanding strikes to win the game."
Palace's struggles come as little surprise as Burley has had to make do and mend following this summer's flirt with liquidation, using a team largely comprised of youngsters and loanees. Burley has at least been able to welcome back midfield duo Ambrose and Neil Danns, who scored 28 goals between them last season, from spells on the sidelines.
He also still has arguably the finest goalkeeper in the Championship in his ranks, the Argentine Julian Speroni, who was called upon to scramble a long-range Stephen McGinn effort wide in the opening moments.
But the Eagles went ahead in the 18th minute when Ambrose got his stop-start season off and running again in spectacular fashion. Ambrose, on the left-hand corner of the penalty area, curled a superb shot into the top right-hand corner of Loach's goal.
Speroni was beaten moments after the interval courtesy of a sweeping three-man Watford move. Jordan Mutch found McGinn on the byline and his cross gave Graham a simple tap-in. Minutes later the Hornets were ahead, Deeney backheeling the ball to Mutch who prodded past Speroni.
Burley threw on Wilfried Zaha and the move paid immediate dividends. His cut-back was gleefully slammed home by Garvan. And two minutes later Garvan grabbed his second with another sweetly-struck shot from outside the area. "If a guy strikes the ball into the top corner from 25 yards there is not much you can do," said the Watford manager, Malky Mackay "But we should have been out of sight by then."
Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Speroni; Clyne, Barrett (Davis, 72), McCarthy, Wright; Ambrose (N'Diaye 83), Danns, Garvan, Marrow; Counago (Zaha, 54), Vaughan. Substitutes not used Mann (gk), Cadogan, Djilali, Obika.
Watford (4-4-2): Loach; A Taylor, M Taylor, Mariappa, Doyley; McGinn, Eustace, Mutch, Whichelow (Buckley, 61); Graham (Sordell, 78), Deeney. Substitutes not used Gilmartin (gk), Hodson, Walker, Bryan, Bennett.
Referee A Penn (W Midlands).