Barnsley crashed to their third Championship defeat, being thrashed 5-1 at home by Watford.
The hosts were desperate for points against the highest scorers in the division, with 14. The Reds were also without a clean sheet all season.
However Watford hadn’t won at Oakwell for 13 years.
The first half-chance went Barnsley’s way. Mellis charged unopposed down the right, but just as O’Grady leapt to meet his floated cross, Angella was handily-placed to head the danger clear.
The Hornets threatened in the fifth minute. McGugan swung in a corner-kick from the right, but as Cassetti raced in to meet it, he could only headv well wide.
But 60 seconds later Watford surged ahead. McGugan slidi a ball through the unmarked DEENEY, who was allowed time and space to steady before guiding a shot into the corner of the net from 15 yards.
The hosts fluffed a good chance in the 12th minute. Etuhu headed the ball neatly into Dawson’s path, only for the skipper to blaze wildly over from the edge of the box.
However, the battling Reds did grab an equaliser two minutes later thanks to a super individual strike from poacher supreme SCOTLAND.
He robbed the dithering Iriney on the edge of the Watford box and clinically drove a low shot home past the stunned Almunia for his first goal of the season.
But the Hornets swiftly hit back to retake the lead after 18 minutes. Anya’s cross was deflected off Dawson, but it dropped kindly into the box for FARAONI, who was lurking at the far post and side-footed comfortable past Steele.
The Reds picked up the momentum again with O’Grady threatening a second equaliser. The former Owls striker rose well to meet Kennedy’s cross, but couldn’t sufficiently direct his header.
Loan man Ramage found himself in unfamiliar territory as he glanced a header narrowly wide.
Mellis thumped a shot just past the post, but that was only a matter of seconds after Cassetti’s header from a McGugan had forced Steele into a smart one-handed save.
Two minutes before half-time Watford stormed 3-1 clear. This time Anya jinked his way down the left before dragging the ball neatly into FORESTIERI’S path, and he lashed home into the roof of the net from three yards.
It was no major shock to see Reds boss Flitcroft make two changes at the interval.
His side were in need of a fresh thrust going forward and so wide-men O’Brien and Noble-Lazarus were given the nod, in place of Kennedy and the disappointing Dawson.
Flitcroft almost gained a positive response from one of those substitutes.
Noble-Lazarus drove in a free-kick from 25 yards. It was deflected up and into the box by the wall, and as the ball dropped kindly for O’Grady, his shot forced Almunia into a decent save.
A somewhat pedestrian start to the second period by Zola’s men indicated that he was quite content to try and sit on his two-goal advantage, then an injury to the impressive McGugan slowed down proceedings even further.
Just before the hour wsummer capture McCourt came on to finally make his Reds bow, though it was O’Grady who was next to threaten when he drilled in a low shot which fizzed inches wide.
A minute later Cranie found himself in the Watford box to meet Perkins’ cross, only for Almunia to produce a breath-taking one-handed stop to keep the centre-back at bay.
The Reds hadn’t given up the ghost, a fact further highlighted when Ramage went up to meet O’Brien’s out-swinger, only to see his header drift wide.
But just when it looked as though they might haul themselves back into contention, Watford made it 4-1.
Iriney’s free-kick wasn’t cleared, and when the loose ball fell to MURRAY 25 yards from goal, he lashed home convincingly to seemingly seal a well-deserved victory.
Still the hosts rallied with Noble-Lazarus’s smart volley forcing Almunia into a smart stop, although at the other end, Steele was equally alert as he thwarted Anya.
ANYA wasn’t to be denied the goal his performance deserved, however, as he ran from his own half with the ball after O’Brien’s free-kick had been headed clear, and rifled a shot past Steele to make it 5-1.