Eagles downed by Hornets' sting
Cowie strike and Fonte own goal seal points
Last Updated: 28/02/09 6:10pm
Rodgers: Vital victory
Watford registered their third successive 2-0 Championship victory by beating Crystal Palace to pull five points clear of the drop zone.
Fresh from their 2-0 defeats of Blackpool and Swansea, the Hornets dispatched the Eagles by the same scoreline thanks to Don Cowie's 22nd minute opener and a Jose Fonte own goal 18 minutes from time.
This was Palace's fourth trip to Vicarage Road in 13 months but they looked far from at home during a display devoid of inspiration.
The hosts carved out the first good chance of the game when former Eagle Jobi McAnuff - jeered at every touch by the sizeable away following - slipped a tackle to play in Grzegorz Rasiak on the right of the area.
His cutback found Cowie on the penalty spot but the midfielder's effort was well blocked by Matt Lawrence.
Alan Lee then almost got in at the other end only to be denied by a marvellous saving challenge from Adrian Mariappa as both sides pushed for the opener.
But it was Brendan Rodgers' side who took the lead in the 22nd minute with a simple goal.
Cowie - signed in January from Scottish side Inverness Caledonian Thistle - took advantage of a faulty offside trap.
Rasiak helped the ball on over his shoulder and Cowie was left with the Palace half to himself as a static defence looked hopefully for an offside flag that never came.
The midfielder kept his cool to race in and slot the ball between Julian Speroni's legs from the edge of the area.
An incensed Warnock was lectured by referee Grant Hegley on the touchline as his players appealed for offside but the goal was allowed to stand.
Watford captain Jay DeMerit was forced off early in the second period through injury and while Rodgers waited to reshuffle his back line, Palace midfielder Neil Danns twice went close with half chances.
Rodgers eventually got Jon Harley into the action and Cowie then should have made the game safe with a great chance in the 70th minute.
Again Rasiak showed good awareness by playing in Tommy Smith down the left and his first-time pass picked out Cowie who could only hit Speroni with his shot.
However the industrious Highlander made amends two minutes later by creating the second.
Cowie chased a lost cause in the right-hand corner and after robbing Clint Hill set into the area.
His low cross was met by McAnuff and while Speroni made a sharp stop to deny him from point-blank range Fonte could only bundle the loose ball back into the net under pressure.
Rasiak went close to adding a third after some dire defending but Watford comfortably closed out a win to take them nearer to safety.
Sky Bet Championship
Sat 28th Feb
Reading0 - 1N Forest
Swansea1 - 1Charlton
Southampton1 - 0Cardiff
Preston3 - 2Ipswich
Wolves0 - 1Plymouth
Bristol C0 - 0Blackpool
Barnsley2 - 1QPR
Norwich1 - 2Coventry
Watford2 - 0C Palace
Burnley2 - 4Sheff Wed
Sky Bet Championship
|2||Queens Park Rangers||21||42|
|8||Brighton and Hove Albion||21||32|