Memorable Match: Crystal Palace 2-3 Watford - Late Vydra goal completes dramatic Hornets turnaround
Photo by Getty Images/Tom Dulat

With this Premier League season now approaching its crunch time, Watford travel to Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon in search of vital points to aid their push for survival.

The Hornets climbed out of the relegation zone last weekend with a spectacular victory over champions elect Liverpool, and will hope to repeat that performance at Selhurst Park against hosts who are in all likelihood safe from the threat of relegation already.

Head coach Nigel Pearson knows his side must not rest on their laurels, instead using their eye-catching win as a catalyst for greater fortunes in the run-in. A tremendous degree of team spirit will need to be on display for these final ten games if Watford are to secure top flight football for a sixth season running.

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Perhaps the squad can take inspiration from the victory of their predecessors against Palace back in the summer of 2012 — it was a triumph which epitomised soul and mettle they will hope to display on Saturday and, indeed, throughout the rest of the campaign as a whole.

Frantic 30 minutes see Palace in front

It was not the start new boss Gianfranco Zola would have desired in his first game in charge. Referee Andy D'Urso gave an early penalty for a foul on a young Wilfried Zaha, and it was duly dispatched by Owen Garvan.

But Watford replied fewer than ten minutes later, as Palace goalkeeper Julián Speroni spilled a harmless shot straight into the path of centre-back Martin Taylor to prod home.

The scores didn't remain even for long, though. On the half-hour mark, Speroni punted the ball up to Aaron Wilbraham who knocked it down to Garvan. The Irish midfielder then bolted into the box and steadied himself to coolly finish past an outstretched Manuel Almunia, one of a number of league debutants in the starting line-up that afternoon.

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Watford nick it at the death

Desperate to ensure they would not leave south London emtpy-handed, the Hornets applied significant pressure in the second half.

They earned their just rewards when midfielder Almen Abdi took aim from 25 yards out in the 88th minute, scoring impressively with his weaker foot. Oh, how Watford fans would become used to strikes of that calibre over the next few seasons.

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The winning goal was also the first of what would go on to be a regular occurrence in Hertfordshire — Matej Vydra hitting the back of the net. The Czech striker received possession on the corner of the penalty area and arrowed a sumptuous shot home to send the visiting support into sheer raptures.

What happened next?

Both sides would go on to have successful seasons, each pushing for promotion to the Premier League.

Although it would be Cardiff City and Hull City achieving the feat automatically, Watford and Palace were given one final chance to book their place in England's big time in the playoff final in late May. The latter emerged victorious from that match, but the former would join them in the top flight only two years later.

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Said contest at Wembley Stadium has helped to create something of a healthy competitive rivalry between the sides across the last five years — here's to hoping Saturday's clash will live up to the billing.

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