Watford were made to work for their first victory in six games as Ken Sema’s double eventually earned them a 3-2 win over West Brom and lifted them into the Championship play-offs.
An unpredictable encounter burst into life when Sema prodded home the opener midway through the opening half, only moments after Watford’s first touches inside the West Brom box.
West Brom turned the game on its head out of nowhere shortly into the second half, as Conor Townsend equalised from a corner won by their first shot on target of the night.
Their sudden domination from that shot of confidence was punctured 10 minutes later, when Ismael Kone’s deflected shot fell kindly for Ismaila Sarr to slot home.
Wallace then took advantage of another moment of chaos, finishing off – from a marginally offside position – after a hospital pass from Daniel Bachmann had caught out Hamza Choudhury.
The third of three goals in 12 minutes, and what would prove to be the winner, was fittingly unpolished. Sema’s powerful strike struck Erik Pieters to deceive Josh Griffiths and give Watford the lead for the third time.
They would, finally, see this one out to lift themselves fifth in the Championship, now five points clear of a West Brom side four points outside the play-offs and without a win in three games.
How Watford bounced back from poor form and Baggies’ resurgence
There was little sign of the drama to follow when Watford were jeered by their own support barely 10 minutes into a lifeless start at Vicarage Road, between two sides short of form and confidence.
Neither side managed a single touch in the opposition box before Choudhury’s threaded ball forward found Mario Gaspar in the West Brom area.
His square ball was turned goalwards by Keinan Davis but instead fell for Sema, who bundled home the golden opportunity.
West Brom could feel aggrieved having been so comfortable up to that point, and had more frustrations towards their own finishing to follow, with John Swift blazing over a low cross from Wallace.
But their time would finally come, from an unlikely source. An unimpressed Carlos Corberan made two half-time changes, bringing on Grady Diangana and Jayson Molumby, and saw an instant improvement from his side.
It took 10 more minutes to finally record a shot on target, but Swift’s powerful drive from another Wallace delivery was turned behind by Bachmann, as the visitors finally began to apply some pressure.
Watford failed to clear Swift’s subsequent corner and when Pieters hooked a loose ball forward, Townsend stuck out a leg to turn it past Bachmann and net only his second league goal in five seasons with West Brom.
The Baggies went onto enjoy their best spell of the game after equalising, but with the unpredictable nature of the game they were never safe, and were placed on the back foot again when Kone’s innocuous effort was deflected perfectly into Sarr’s path for another simple finish.
The twists and turns were in full swing by now and Bachmann’s poor decision making soon brought the fourth goal of the night with his poor ball to Choudhury picked off by Swift, whose wonderful backheel reached Wallace, who beat the stranded goalkeeper.
Watford still had ideas of their own when it appeared as though their play-off hopes might take another dent, and took only seven minutes to take the lead for the third time.
Sema drove in from the right flank and bent an effort towards the far corner, which took a major touch off Pieters and nestled just inside the near post.
Corberan threw bodies and men forward in search of another equaliser but West Brom’s second chances were finally up, as they fell to a fourth winless game out of five, with the Baggies now closer to the bottom half than the top six.
Player of the match: Ken Sema
Watford’s double goalscorer Ken Sema told Sky Sports:
“It was a game we had to win – and we did, so I’m happy. It was a big game at home and a hard one, plus a good win as well.
“The winner was mine 100 per cent. It’s my goal, for sure.”
Bilic: We totally deserved to win
Watford manager Slaven Bilic told Sky Sports:
“It was a very nervy game, we played against a direct opponent, and we started really well. Throughout the first half we were the better team, created the better chances and should have been 2-0, maybe 3-0 up.
“They changed the shape a little bit at half-time, and we reacted by putting another man in the midfield. We conceded two sloppy goals, but we showed character and quality, and totally deserved to win the game.
“We’re not complete – this was the first time in a long time we had the line-up with all four creative positions with really good quality players on the top level.”
Corberan: We were too fragile after scoring
West Brom head coach Carlos Corberan told Sky Sports:
“It’s a game to take a lot of conclusions from. We didn’t play enough in the first half, we didn’t show what we wanted to show or defend how we wanted.
“We didn’t show the identity and behaviours that we wanted to show. We tried to change it in the second half, if we were going to lose we wanted to do it showing what we wanted to show.
“We did more in the second half, but we didn’t manage the minutes after we scored the goals well. We showed a level of fragility which didn’t allow us more reward from the game.”