It was another special Tuesday night for Watford and their fans as they went top of the Championship tonight with a 2-0 victory at Wigan Athletic.

The previous leaders Bournemouth’s 1-1 draw with Cardiff City saw the Hornets move top on goal difference on 72 points, with Middlesbrough level on the same tally in second.

Troy Deeney’s two second-half goals – his seventh in six games and his 18th and 19th of the season – meant the Golden Boys’ remarkable form extended to eight wins in their last ten games.

Hornets head coach Slavisa Jokanovic opted for a solid-looking starting XI. Saturday’s man-of-the-match Fernando Forestieri could feel a little hard done by not to be included in the XI but Jokanovic named a resilient side for what was always likely to be a more difficult test than the much-changed Reading.

Daniel Pudil, Daniel Tozser and the injured Almen Abdi dropped out and Tommie Hoban, back from suspension, Gabriele Angella and Gianni Munari came into a 3-5-2 formation. Marco Motta and Hoban were the right and left wing-backs respectively.

The Golden Boys started the contest well, attempting to play possession-based football on what was a very poor DW Stadium pitch.

Gaetan Bong fired the first shot over from distance but the visitors enjoyed more of the ball in the opening period without penetrating the Wigan back-line, although Adlene Guedioura did try his luck from 30 yards out, forcing Ali Al Habsi into a routine stop.

Wigan would have taken the lead in the 18th minute had it not been for Hoban. Athletic were allowed to throw in to the feet of Marc-Antoine Fortune eight yards from goal and Leon Clarke’s low shot would have gone in had Hoban not made a last-minute, diving block. Jermaine Pennant’s follow-up was also stopped by a defender in yellow.

Watford’s passing became less accurate for a while but a slick move involving a one-two between Deeney and Gianni Munari saw the Hornets’ captain have a header from the edge of the area comfortably saved.

Wigan’s greatest threat came down the left side through Liverpool loanee Sheyi Ojo. The selection of Motta on the right side proved a good one as he combined well with Cathcart to reduce the former MK Dons youngster’s potency.

It had become a scrappy and balanced affair by the midway point of the first half, as neither team troubled the opposition backline or goalkeepers for a considerable period of time.

Deeney was Watford’s liveliest threat and his neat flick with the outside of his boot forced Al Habsi to save at the near post as the half came to live as the interval approached.

Moments later Hoban could only head Ojo’s cross to Fortune but fortunately for the visitors the powerful strike was straight at Gomes.

Guedioura then had a goal-bound volley blocked and Deeney would have got a shot away from close range had Angella’s cross not been behind the striker.

Jokanovic decided to change the formation and personnel at the break; opting for the system and line-up many expected from the start as Forestieri was introduced as part of a 4-3-1-2 formation, with Motta making way.

It was Wigan who created the next chance of note though. Pennant picked out the unmark Ojo at the far post and the 17-year-old was unable to control his volley, shooting comfortably over.

But a moment of quality, well two, from Guedioura and then Deeney, created the opening goal. Forestieri released Guedioura wide left and his first time cross was met by the on-coming Deeney who powered his header into the bottom corner.

It was almost 2-0 soon after as Watford broke in numbers, Vydra shifted the ball to Guedioura and his low drive from outside the area was deflected narrowly wide, although a goal kick was given.

The Hornets now looked a threat every time they attacked and Vydra hit the side-netting from outside the area after Guedioura slipped him through.

A Cardiff City equaliser against Bournemouth prompted chants of ‘We are top of the league’ from the travelling support who then started a collective bounce.

But Wigan were a threat. A number of dangerous crosses from both flanks were just scrambled clear by the Hornets defence.

There was a feeling that another goal could be on its way. Which end? It wasn’t clear.

Guedioura epitomised the whole-hearted attitude of the Hornets players when he threw his whole body in-front of a goal-bound shot. Likewise the attacking trio of Deeney, Vydra and Forestieri worked tirelessly tracking back to help reduce the Wigan threat.

Juan Carlos Paredes came on in place of Cathcart, who appeared to be injured, with 20 minutes remaining and Tozser was introduced for Vydra soon after, as the Golden Boys reverted to a 4-4-2, with Munari and Guedioura wide.

Joel Ekstrand was close to giving Watford breathing space when his low shot went narrowly wide of the far post and Deeney’s shot was blocked by Harry Maguire after the striker showed great strength to win the ball in the opposition penalty area.

Deeney continues to produce ‘complete’ striking performances and tonight was another where the captain led from the front.

Hoban is also showing himself to be more than capable at playing in the unfamiliar left back role. He travelled around 40 yards to reach the ‘D’ of the penalty area and Guedioura’s deflected shot would have rebounded in had it not been for Emerson Boyce clearing close to his own goal-line.

There was a momentary scare for the Golden Boys when Boyce’s cross was controlled by the unmarked Clarke eight yards out but the offside flag was raised.

The victory was secured just after the initial 90 minutes was up when Forestieri went down in the box under the challenge of Boyce. It seemed a harsh decision for Wigan but it mattered for little for either side as Deeney smashed the ball into the corner of the net, with Al Habsi routed to the spot.

Injury-time consisted of various chants from the travelling faithful, including ‘The Orns are going up’ and ‘That boy Nic Cruwys, he’s one of our own’.

It was another special night for Watford. The Orns are top of the league!

Wigan Athletic line-up: Al-Habsi; Boyce, Pearce, Maguire, Bong; Perch, Kim; Pennant, Ojo, Clarke; Fortune.

Subs not used: Nicholls, Barnett, Kvist, Cowie, Sinclair, Murphy, Mckay.

Watford line-up: Gomes; Cathcart (Paredes 71), Angella, Ekstrand, Hoban; Motta (Forestieri HT), Watson, Guedioura, Munari; Deeney, Vydra (Tozser 73).

Subs not used: Bond, Layun, Anya, Ighalo.

Referee: David Coote.

Attendance: 10,684 (785).