Neal Maupay equalled Glenn Murray’s Premier League goals record of 26 with his ninth of the season as Albion completed the double over Watford with a thoroughly deserved victory at Vicarage Road.
Maupay’s tenth goal in all competitions – a sumptuous volley just before the break – was reward for a strong first-half performance. Watford rallied in the second half and Emmanuel Dennis hit the bar but Albion reasserted their authority and Adam Webster’s close-range second from substitute Alexis Mac Allister’s corner sealed a seventh win of the season and stretched the unbeaten Premier League record to seven games.
Albion made two changes to the side knocked out of the FA Cup by Spurs with Joel Veltman and Danny Welbeck coming in for Yves Bissouma and Solly March, who dropped to the bench.
New manager Roy Hodgson has made Watford hard to beat and there was plenty of evidence of their defensive resolve in a first half which Albion controlled for long spells, enjoying 71% possession in the opening 45.
The Hornets’ keeper made an early plunge to his right to keep out a volley from Jakub Moder, who then turned provider with a cross to the unmarked Pascal Gross which he headed over.
Foster also pushed away a drive from outside the D by Maupay and Lewis Dunk was furious with himself after escaping his marker at another Gross corner only to head over.
But the goal Albion deserved arrived in the 44th minute. Tariq Lamptey whipped over a lovely ball from the right and Maupay, in space 12 yards out, swivelled and guided his right-foot volley past Foster into the top right-hand corner for his ninth Premier League goal of the season.
On the balance of play it was a deserved lead. Watford had offered little threat with Emmanuel Dennis’s free kick, which was well wide, and Josh King’s shot on the turn that didn’t threaten Rob Sanchez either the sum of their attacking efforts.
Watford brought on their talisman Ismaila Sarr at the break and they enjoyed more possession in the opening 15 minutes of the second half. Sanchez had to claim a couple of corners under pressure but Albion managed to keep the hosts at arm’s length until the 63rd minute when Dennis tip toed his way into a shooting position but his close-range effort clattered off the top of the bar.
Yves Bissouma and Alexis Mac Allister came on and Albion got control again. The Argentinian’s first contribution was a free kick which eventually dropped to Moder ten yards out but his powerful effort was blocked by Kiko Femenia.
Albion went close when Foster blocked Marc Cucurella’s low drive with his legs as the visitors, backed by 3000 noisy fans in the away end, hunted a second. They carved out another chance in the 82nd minute after a sweeping counter with Joel Veltman picking out Moder and his effort was heading for the bottom corner until a deflection took it wide.
No matter as Albion doubled their lead from the corner. Mac Allister’s delivery dropped to Webster four yards out and although Femenia blocked his first shot Webster reacted quickly to smash the rebound into the roof of the net.
Job done and Albion, who are ninth on 33 points, can now look forward to Tuesday’s tussle at Old Trafford.
Albion: Sanchez, Lamptey, Veltman, Dunk, Webster, Cucurella, Moder, Lallana (Duffy 90+1), Gross (Mac Allister 63), Welbeck (Bissouma 63), Maupay.
Subs: Steele, Bissouma, Mac Allister, Trossard, Alzate, March, Duffy, Caicedo, Ferguson.
Referee: Jonathan Moss