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Posted Tue 17 Mar 15 at 22:00 PM

WATFORD moved top of the Sky Bet Championship with a commanding second-half display at Wigan Athletic - two Troy Deeney goals the difference.

The Hornets' captain gave the Golden Boys the lead on 54 minutes, powering through the penalty area to head home Adlene Guedioura's inviting cross. 

And then he capped a fine team display after the break when slamming home from the penalty spot after Emmerson Boyce had brought down sub Fernando Forestieri.

Pick of a rugged defensive performance was Tommie Hoban, who did well at left wing-back and even better at left-back as Slavisa Jokanovic changed to a back four at half-time - sacrificing Italian Marco Motta for the reshuffle.

It was a case of stick or twist for the big Serb at half-time; whether to settle for a scrappy affair and hope to nick a winner or risk losing in trying to attack and take all three points. Not for the first time in recent weeks, he got his tactical changes spot-on and the Hornets went on to run out relatively comfortable winners after their first goal sucked the belief out of Malky Mackay's relegation-threatened side.

Head Coach Jokanovic made three changes - one of which enforced - to the starting XI which accounted for Reading at the weekend.

Almen Abdi - who scored within a minute on Saturday and was replaced shortly afterwards - is having a hamstring injury assessed, while Daniel Tozser dropped to the bench and Daniel Pudil missed out on the matchday XVIII completely.

Saturday's star turn Forestieri remained among the subs, who included in their number fit-again striker Odion Ighalo.  

Mackay made just one change for the hosts, with Leon Clarke replacing suspended Wigan attacker James McClean.

Monday loan arrivals Josh Murphy and Jerome Sinclair both took a place on the Latics' bench, featuring during the second 45 as the Latics chased at least a share of the spoils.

The first 45 minutes contained very little in the way of clear-cut chances.

Hoban's excellent block denied Leon Clarke on the turn on 18 minutes, Deeney's stabbed volley was turned behind by Ali Al-Habsi in the Wigan goal on 42 minutes and Gabriele Angella got away with a poor header away when Marc-Antoine Fortune fired straight at Heurelho Gomes.

Sheyi Ojo should have put Wigan in front seven minutes into the second-half but half-volleyed way over from Jermaine Pennant's inviting far-post cross.

And Mackay's Latics, without a home win since August, were made to pay minutes later when Guedioura whizzed down the left from Forestieri's turn round the corner. The Algerian whipped over a peach of a cross which Deeney drove home with a power header to Al-Habsi's right.

Wigan, bereft of confidence, had territorial possession and plenty of set-pieces but didn't force Gomes into a meaningful save despite their best efforts.

The Hornets made most of their host's lack of belief and created a number of good openings as the game headed towards full-time.

Joel Ekstrand went close with a low shot after a free-kick had reached him, Guedioura saw a deflected shot hacked off the line, Forestieri shot just wide as did Vydra and Angella headed over as the Golden Boys tried to make it more comfortable a little earlier than Deeney's injury-time spot-kick.

Forestieri, escaping down Watford's left, was tracked by a tired Boyce who took the striker's legs as he cut inside. Penalty - wellied home gleefully by Watford's captain to the delight of the magnificent 785 Hornets' fans massed behind the goal.

Ipswich at home next for the table-topping Hornets.
 
TEAMS
Hornets: Gomes; Cathcart (Paredes 70), Angella, Ekstrand, Hoban; Motta (Forestieri HT), Watson, Guedioura, Munari; Deeney, Vydra (Tozser 73). 
Subs not used: Bond (GK), Layun, Anya, Ighalo.
Goals: Deeney (54), (90+2 - pen). Yellow Cards: Guedioura, Forestieri.

Latics: Al-Habsi; Boyce, Pearce, Maguire, Bong; Perch (c), Kim; Pennant (Murphy 55), Ojo (Kvist 62), Clarke; Fortune (Sinclair 82). 
Subs not used: Nicholls (GK), Barnett, Cowie, Mckay.
Goals: none. Yellow Cards: Perch.

Ref: David Coote.  Att: 10,684 (785 Hornets fans). 
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