Barnsley’s run without a win stretched to nine games as free-scoring Watford made it four wins in five games to rise into the play-off places
Visiting manager Keith Hill, commenting on his side’s defeat, said: “There was nothing even about it.
“We rode our luck with respect to the first half. We made some horrendous decisions in and out of possession.
“The best team won and I’ve got to congratulate Gianfranco (Zola, Watford’s manager) because I think he’s got an excellent side.
“We were very susceptible. We looked weak against the opposition so I don’t think we were ever in the game.
“Individually and collectively, we weren’t cohesive, with and without the ball.”
An early header from Troy Deeney set Zola’s men on their way but they needed a fine double save from Manuel Almunia and a terrific goal-line clearance from Tommie Hoban to preserve their lead at the break.
But once Mark Yeates had doubled his side’s tally in the second half the home side took command as Deeney netted his second and Matej Vydra converted a penalty.
Marcus Tudgay did pull one back late on for the visitors, but when asked if he thought Watford could return to the Premier League this season, Hill replied: “There’s a possibility. That’s the best performance I’ve seen from an opposition team against us. I thought they were excellent in every department.”
Unlike his counterpart, Zola felt the margin of victory was harsh on the Tykes although he was delighted to get another three points.
“It’s been a little bit of rock and roll for us, but in the end the final (outcome) was perfect,” he said.
“I’m delighted with the result, very pleased for the players but it’s been hard. I don’t think the result is too fair towards Barnsley because they played a good game. Yes, probably we deserved to win but not in that way.”
Watford: Almunia, Hall, Hoban, Ekstrand, Cassetti, Yeates, Hogg, Chalobah (Battocchio 71), Pudil, Deeney (Geijo 81), Forestieri (Vydra 66). Unused substitutes: Bonham, Dickinson, Murray, Mujangi Bia.
Barnsley: Steele, Cranie, Foster, McNulty, Golbourne, Mellis (Dawson 32), Greening (O’Brien 81), Buzsaky, Davies, Sinclair (Noble-Lazarus 70), Tudgay. Unused substitutes: Alnwick, Wiseman, Cywka, Stones.
Referee: F Graham (Essex).
Man of the match: Troy Deeney.