Watford head into the international break a point and a place off the Championship summit after securing their second successive 3-2 home victory of the week, this time at the expense of Coventry City.

Like against Stoke City on Wednesday, the Hornets again had to dig deep after making life unnecessarily awkward for themselves by letting a one-goal lead slip but they again showed the have the goal threat to turn games around.

Coventry had the best of what few chances there were in a relatively tame first half, but the second period was to prove a very different story.

Watford struck first when Andre Gray back-heeled the ball home from inside the six-yard box after Ken Sema claimed his latest assist of the season, but the home side were soon to find themselves chasing the game.

First, a misjudgement from Ben Foster saw Gustavo Hamer equalise with a header from at least 20 yards and within a minute the Hornets keeper was to be beaten again by a sweetly-struck Tyler Walker finish.

Crucially though, the Hornets were not behind for long as William Troost-Ekong headed home from a corner. Gray spurned a great chance to make it 3-2 moments later, but the Hornets did get the decisive goal six minutes from the end of time when Ismaila Sarr converted a penalty following a Callum O’Hare handball.

Watford Observer:

Ismaila Sarr watches Callum O'Hare handle his cross

Vladimir Ivic once again shuffled his pack as the Hornets sought to back up their last-gasp midweek win over Stoke City with another three points.

Troost-Ekong came in for Ben Wilmot in the back three, James Garner was preferred to Nathaniel Chalobah in midfield and Gray made his first start of the season in place of Joao Pedro.

Both the Brazilian and Chalobah were on the bench, but Wilmot was not in the matchday 18 and neither was Will Hughes, with the club stating he had picked up a knock in training yesterday.

Coventry went down 2-1 at Nottingham Forest in their midweek encounter and Mark Robins opted for two changes to his starting XI, bringing in captain Dominic Hyam and Tyler Walker in place of Kyle McFadzean and Matt Godden.

Foster was the first goalkeeper who had to be on his guard when the Sky Blues were awarded a free-kick centrally 30 yards out, but the defensive wall did its job as Ben Sheaf went for power with his set-piece strike.

However, it was the Hornets who had the first clear opening in the 17th minute when Christian Kabasele’s good ball forward set Sarr away on the right, his low cross was just too far ahead of the stretching Gray and Tom Cleverley was unable to keep his effort on target after coming in at the far post.

Watford had started well though, were using the ball positively and seeking to use the full width of the pitch. But it was a good old-fashioned long ball over the top that game their next opening; Cleverley sending Gray scampering into space on the right where the striker nutmegged Michael Rose to break into the area, but he was unable to pick out Sarr with his low centre.

Although Coventry were keeping five at the back without possession, they wing-backs did seek to push on when the chances arose and in the 18th minute Ryan Giles made the most of the chance to play in a dangerous cross from the left, but William Troost-Ekong did just enough to flick it away from the head of Maxime Biamou at the near post.

Gustavo Hamer then fired high and wide from just outside the 18-yard box before Cleverley did get the ball in the Sky Blues net, but the whistle had already gone for an offside following a corner.

Watford should really have been trailing in the 23rd minute though, when Giles took on and beat Kiko Femenia before playing in a left-footed cross that picked out Biamou, but be thumped a clear header wide of Foster’s right-hand post.

The Hornets were soon back on the front foot and, understandably, kept trying to utilise the attacking strength of Sarr and Femenia, but their opponents frequently had numbers over and, for the most part, were dealing with this threat well in the opening half-an-hour.

The home side were almost caught out again in the 37th minute when Hamer was released on the right-side of the area and his low ball across was begging to be tucked away, which Biamou probably would have done had he not been tracked by Kabasele, who did very well to get in a goal-saving challenge.

As has been the case before this season when the Hornets have escaped at one end, they immediately threatened down the other, this time with Sarr getting away on the right but goalkeeper Marko Marosi bundled his low centre away at the near post.

However, it was Watford’s turn to almost break through a minute before the break when Femenia passed inside to Garner, whose lovely back-heeled pass set the Spaniard away on the right and his good cross was destined for the head of Cleverley but a defender did well to deal with the danger.

The first half ended goalless but that should have changed within a minute of the restart, and again it was Coventry that should have taken the lead.

This time Hamer turned creator, threading the ball through on the right side of the area to put O’Hare through on goal and although the midfielder went for power rather than placement, Foster still did well to divert his rising angled drive over.

The value of that save was further underlined five minutes later when Watford made the breakthrough, as Sema added yet another assist to his early-season collection.

Watford Observer:

Andre Gray back-heels in the opener

The Swede was played in on the left, again showed his strength to hold off his marker as he closed into the area before playing the ball into the danger zone where Gray showed great awareness to divert the ball in with a back-heel, although the last touch may have come off a defender.

The Swede threatened to get in again soon after, but his run was illegally curtailed by Leo Ostigard, who received the first yellow card of the afternoon.

However, Sema was soon causing havoc again on the left flank, playing in another dangerous low centre which Gray was just unable to get a foot onto, before Giles had an opportunity for the visitors when he hit a rising drive over.

Femenia picked up a yellow card for a foul on Biamou in the 62nd minute and it proved to be a costly foul, already no one could really have forecast what was to unfold next.

Hamer played in the free-kick from the left and Watford managed to half-clear their lines to the edge of their own area where Hamer appeared to be heading the ball back into the danger zone, only to send it over the stranded Foster from fully 20 yards.

That was bad enough but barely a minute later it got even worse as Hamer launched the ball forward and the Hornets’ defence was all over the place as Biamou nodded a header down for Walker, who didn’t break stride as he struck a fine first-time finish beyond Foster to put the visitors 2-1 up.

It was an advantage they held for barely two minutes as, crucially, the hosts got back on terms quickly.

The Hornets won a corner on the right which Garner took and Troost-Ekong found space in the area to thump a header beyond Marosi to score his first Hornets goal.

Jeremy Ngakia was already been readied to come as the increasing chaos unfolded on the pitch and within seconds of his entry the Hornets really should have gone 3-2 up.

The home side attacked at pace and Sarr slipped in Gray to put him one-on-one with Marosi, but the Coventry keeper did well to read the striker’s intentions as he sought to bend a low finish past him and saved well.

That was to be Gray’s last attacking involvement of note as he was replaced in the 74th minute by Troy Deeney, who came on to join a very select band of Watford players to make 400 appearances for the club.

Both sides were going for it as an entertaining second half entered its final ten minutes and it was Watford who struck next.

Sema once again posed the initial threat with a surging run and cross down the left and the ball broke to Sarr on the opposite side of the box, only for his delivery to be impeded by the raised arms of O’Hare.

Referee Simon Hooper had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and booked the Sky Blues midfielder but, fascinatingly, it was Sarr who took responsibility from 12 yards and not Deeney.

However, the Senegal winger took the opportunity with aplomb, sending Marosi the wrong way to make it 3-2.

Robins made a double change as the game moved into four minutes of injury time but their opponents safely negotiated these to leave themselves in good shape heading into the international break.

Watford: Foster; Kabasele, Troost-Ekong, Cathcart; Femenia (Ngakia 67), Garner (Chalobah 87), Capoue, Cleverley, Sema; Sarr, Gray (Deeney 74). Subs not used: Bachmann, Pedro, Quina, Sierralta.

Coventry City: Marosi; McCallum (Dacosta 90), Rose, Ostigard, Hyam, Giles; Hamer (Allen 90), Sheaf, O’Hare; Walker, Biamou. Subs not used: Wilson, McFadzean, Kelly, Bakayoko, Bapaga.

Referee: Simon Hooper.