HUDDERSFIELD TOWN missed the chance to go top of the Championship as Watford claimed all three points in a dramatic finale.
Three goals in four minutes - two of which went to Gianfranco Zola’s side - ensured the game ended with a bang and it was the Hornets who emerged victorious courtesy of Troy Deeney’s penalty.
As had been the case in the first half, Watford again impressed after the interval and Fernando Forestieri twice went close in the early exchanges, while Deeney also went close.
Forestieri finally made Watford’s territorial dominance pay with a deflected shot that flew into the corner of Alex Smithies’ net in the 68th minute.
The visitors went ahead for the first time seven minutes from the end when Fitz Hall tapped in a low cross from Mark Yeates only for Town to equalise within 60 seconds with a bullet header.
Watford, though, would not be denied and they regained the lead in the 87th minute when Forestieri was controversially adjudged to have been fouled in the area and referee Gary Sutton pointed to the spot.
Troy Deeney did the rest with a firm finish from 12 yards to clinch the points.
Oliver Norwood had put Town in front, with the summer signing from Manchester United struck after 24 minutes with a free-kick that deceived Watford goalkeeper Manuel Almunia.
Arsenal’s former stopper got a hand to the swerving ball but was unable to keep it out as Norwood added to his previous strikes against Sheffield Wednesday and Blackpool.
With Town looking strangely off the pace in those early exchanges, Watford had been allowed to pass the ball round almost at will.
The Hornets twice came close to opening the scoring during their spell on top as, first, Marcos Cassetti got away down the right and cut inside to shoot just wide.
Then, with the home defence waiting in vain for an offside flag, Fernando Forestieri raced clear before turning back on to his right foot and curling a shot that passed within an inch or two of Alex Smithies’ post.
Town improved marginally once ahead on 24 minutes but Watford continued to press and were almost presented with a chance to equalise when Peter Clarke and Alex Smithies got in a mix-up before the danger was averted - with the hosts holding onto the lead at the interval ahead of a riproaring second period.
Jermaine Beckford was the surprise inclusion in the Town line-up to face Watford.
The loan signing from Leicester City was expected to have to wait for his chance following the manner of Town’s win at Blackpool on Monday night, after which manager Simon Grayson said any new arrivals would not go straight into the team.
However, a groin injury for James Vaughan has meant a start for Beckford as the Yorkshire club look to maintain their place in the automatic promotion slots.
Otherwise, Town will field the same XI that played so impressively at Bloomfield Road in the Terriers’ 3-1 win.
Town: Smithies, Dixon, P Clarke, Gerrard, Hunt, Ward, Norwood (Arfield 79), Southern, Clayton (Scannell 71), Novak, Beckford (Lee 79). Subs not used: Bennett, Woods, Wallace, Spencer.
Watford: Almunia; Hoban, Hall, Neuton; Cassetti, Hogg, Chalobah (Smith 80), Abdi (Yeates 75); Pudil; Deeney. Forestieri (Murray 90). Subs not used: Bond, Iwelumo, Forsyth, Doyley.
Referee: G Sutton (Lincs).