Mackay's men stunned by Palace resurgence

Watford 1 Crystal Palace 3

Not much has gone Crystal Palace's way of late but on a day when a consortium of local businessmen emerged as favourites to save the club, Paul Hart's team secured a victory that could prove vital in their attempt to avoid relegation from the Championship. Victory at Vicarage Road still left Palace third from bottom, but they are now just one point behind Watford, whose own slide into the mire has been gathering pace at an alarming rate.

Palace were on the brink of the play-offs only two months ago, but going into administration, along with the subsequent deduction of 10 points, has hit them hard. A consortium headed by Steve Parish, a businessman and Palace fan, has been named as the "preferred bidder" to buy the club, although the deal is dependent on the separate purchase of Selhurst Park.

Watford were looked comfortable in 11th place last month, but one win in 10 matches has plunged Malky Mackay's team into trouble.

Nevertheless, the home side dominated the first half hour, creating a succession of chances. A sweeping end-to-end move involving Lloyd Doyley and Heidar Helguson ended with Tom Cleverley smashing a shot against one upright before Henri Lansbury's diving header from a Cleverley corner rattled the other.

Palace, who had to re-organise when their captain Sean Derry limped off, had barely threatened when they scored after 31 minutes. Johannes Ertl crossed from the left and Stern John rose at the far post to score with a looping header over Scott Loach.

Hart's side, playing with renewed confidence, suddenly looked a threat every time they attacked and scored again after 51 minutes. Sean Scannell hit a post with a header from Darren Ambrose's cross and then reacted quicker than anyone to put home the rebound. Fifteen minutes later Neil Danns was on hand to drive a loose ball into the net after a Scannell shot was parried by Loach.

Watford looked dispirited but still had their chances. Cleverley hit the post again before Danny Graham scored from 10 yards in a frantic finale, which also saw Palace's Lee Hills sent off for a second bookable offence.

"We had enough chances to win two games but we have to be more clinical," Mackay said. Hart agreed that fortune had been on Palace's side but added: "Over the last few weeks we've earned a little bit of luck."

Watford (4-4-2): Loach, Mariappa, Taylor (Hoskins, 83), DeMerit, Doyley; Cleverley, Lansbury, Eustace, Cowie (Graham, 68); Helguson, Buckley. Substitutes not used: R Lee (gk), McGinn, Harley, Noble, Hodson.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Speroni; Ertl, McCarthy, Davis, Hills; Scannell (Carle, 80), Danns, Derry (Lawrence, 21), Ambrose; John (N'Diaye, 90), Andrew. Substitutes not used: Mann (gk), A Lee, Comley, Zaha.

Referee: P Taylor (Hertfordshire).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works