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Vicarage Road Stadium (ATT 15,856) 31st December 2005 - Kick off 13:00 Ref: P Dowd

Watford Watford vs Crystal Palace C Palace

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Hornets pay the penalty

By Simon Fudge.   Last Updated: 31/12/05 6:10pm

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Crystal Palace boosted their promotion hopes with an important 2-1 victory at Watford on New Year's Eve.

It was a third straight win for The Eagles, who claimed the points through a disputed second half penalty from Andy Johnson.

Following a cagey start at Vicarage Road, Palace took the lead on 18 minutes when Darren Ward scored his second goal in as many matches after converting Jobi McAnuff's free kick at the far post.

The visitors nearly doubled their lead, but McAnuff saw his angled shot pushed around the post by Watford's on-loan goalkeeper Ben Foster, as Palace took a one-goal lead into the half-time break.

Marlon King had an early chance just after half time for Watford, while Tom Soares forced a fine save from Foster after trying to chip the Watford number one.

The home side levelled just before the hour mark, as King headed Gavin Mahon's long ball forward into the path of Darius Henderson and he struck home from close range.

Palace goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly then made an instinctive save to deny Clarke Carlisle at the far post five minutes later, as Watford looked odds-on to win the contest.

Palace, however, had other ideas and were rewarded a controversial penalty midway through the second half.

Referee Phil Dowd adjudged Carlisle to have pulled back Clinton Morrison in the Watford box and Johnson converted the spot kick to claim all three points for Iain Dowie's side.

Matches

Table

Sky Bet Championship

Sky Bet Championship
Pos Team P Pts
1 Bournemouth 28 54
2 Derby County 28 54
3 Middlesbrough 28 53
4 Ipswich Town 28 51
5 Brentford 28 49
6 Watford 28 47
7 Wolverhampton Wanderers 28 45
8 Norwich City 28 44
9 Blackburn Rovers 28 39
10 Sheffield Wednesday 28 38
11 Birmingham City 28 37
12 Nottingham Forest 28 34
13 Cardiff City 28 34
14 Bolton Wanderers 28 34
15 Fulham 28 34
16 Reading 28 34
17 Huddersfield Town 28 34
18 Charlton Athletic 28 33
19 Leeds United 28 32
20 Rotherham United 28 30
21 Brighton and Hove Albion 28 29
22 Millwall 28 27
23 Wigan Athletic 28 22
24 Blackpool 28 20

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