Former Watford junior Keshi Anderson came back to haunt his former side as he rattled in a hat-trick as the Eagles thrashed the Hornets.
Amidst a torrential downpour at the KNK Stadium it rained goals for the Eagles with Anderson’s haul added to by a strike from Aaron Bissaka, a Connor Dymond penalty and an own goal as Gary Issott’s side claimed their first win of the season in style.
Palace began brightly and created a couple of early opportunities for Reise Allassani but he saw a one-on-one saved by the feet of Nathan Gartside before curling the ball over the bar.
All the pressure had been Palace’s in the opening 13 minutes and they took the lead just as the heavens opened. After a throw-in found Bissaka, the winger tucked the ball into the path of Anderson who calmly slotted under Gartside to grab his first of the afternoon.
The lead would be relinquished just two minutes later when Watford won a penalty after Michael Folivi was bundled over inside the area, and his strike partner Alex Jakubiak sent David Gregory the wrong way from 12 yards.
That came against the run of play and despite the setback Palace continued to create plenty of opportunities in quick succession. Luke Croll saw a header from a Gray corner flash wide before a great driving run by Bissaka led to him teeing up Gray but Gartside once again saved well with his feet.
Allassani then struck the crossbar with an attempted cross before Anderson saw a shot on the turn and a header easily stopped by the Hornets keeper, but on 25 minutes another fine dribble by Bissaka allowed him to find Allassani on the right who centred and the ball went in off a Watford defender under pressure from Anderson to restore the hosts’ advantage.
Five minutes before the break the Eagles made it 3-1. Some more direct running by Gray put the defence under pressure and he was brought down just outside the box, but Palace weren’t to be denied as Allassani’s delivery found Bissaka unmarked at the back post to side-foot home and grab a deserved goal.
The scoring continued in the second half and once again it was Anderson who as celebrating. Bissaka caused more problems on the left and swung in a low cross, and the striker got ahead of his marker to clip the ball into the bottom corner.
He then grabbed a third minutes later when Gray sliced his way through the beleaguered Watford defence to slip in Anderson who had all the time in the world to shoot across the goalkeeper and find the net to complete his treble.
Jordell Johnson did rattle the post with a snapshot for Harry Kewell’s men after they won a corner with a rare attack, but midway through the second half Palace were awarded a spot-kick of their own when Matthew George was tripped in the box, and skipper Dymond drilled it straight down the middle for the second week in a row.
A third penalty of the afternoon was awarded eight minutes from time when Spencer Forte collided with Ogo Obi in the box and once again Jakubiak would register from the spot, but it was to be scant consolation for the Hornets who were well beaten on the day by an impressive Eagles outfit.
Palace: Gregory, George (Forte 69), Croll, Langton, Akiotu (Hoare 66), Bissaka (Berkley-Agyepong 57), Breimyr, Dymond, Gray, Anderson, Allassani. Subs not used: Pertreou, O’Dwyer.
Watford: Gartside, Young, Johnson, Montavez (Charles 54), Doherty, Lewis, Orsi-Dadomo (Makaka 69), Sesay, Obi, Jakubiak, Folivi. Subs not used: Rowan, Stevens.