Watford were forced to settle for a point after an entertaining encounter with West Bromwich Albion ended in a 2-2 draw at a soaking Vicarage Road tonight.

All the goals came in an open first quarter of the contest and such was the way the game was unfolding, more seemed inevitable. But a combination of outstanding goalkeeping, disappointing finishing and a second half mostly played in a deluge meant both sides had to settle for their third draws of the season as they remained side-by-side in the Championship table.

Watford struck first after just three minutes when Tom Ince’s sweet curling finish rounding off some lovely build-up play, but with barely 15 minutes on the clock the hosts found themselves behind after John Swift had equalised from a free-kick and Jed Wallace struck a quick-fire second to punish mistakes from Jeremy Ngakia and James Morris.

Albion’s advantage wasn’t too last long either though, Matheus Martins levelling with a cracking strike as both sides continued to struggle defensively.

The Hornets had more of the chances to win it thereafter and particularly Ismael Kone. He wasted a clear opening in the first half, before he saw a second-half header kept out by a wonderful reaction stop from Alex Palmer.

The conditions led to errors from both sides though, and one from Wesley Hoedt almost resulted in a winner for Brandon Thomas-Asante, but he was denied by an excellent Daniel Bachmann save after he had also kept out a stinging drive from the Albion striker earlier in the second period.

Valerien Ismael made just the one change to the team that started Saturday’s late show against Birmingham City, with Kone taking the place of Tom Dele-Bashiru dropping down to the bench for the first time in the league this season. Vakoun Bayo was back among the replacements after missing the 2-0 win.

The Baggies came into the game level on points with their opponents but one place lower in the table on goal difference, and Carlos Corberan kept faith with the same side which drew 0-0 at Bristol City at the weekend.

Within three minutes though, the visitors found themselves chasing the game as the Hornets got off to the perfect start with a lovely goal.

A lovely one-two in midfield opened up Albion on their right as Martins attacked. He came infield, finding Kone, who looked like he might pull the trigger, but instead worked it to his right where Imran Louza in turn laid it off to Ince, who didn’t need to break stride as he sweetly curled a left-footed strike beyond Alex Palmer to put the home side into an early lead with his first goal for the club.

With that boost, the Hornets continued to move the ball around confidently in the opening ten minutes against an Albion side who looked distinctly sluggish.

However, that could have changed in the 12th minute when a Jeremy Ngakia pass was blocked by John Swift and broke invitingly for Brandon Thomas-Asante but the angle was against the striker and Daniel Bachmann was able to save with his foot, only for Ngakia to concede a free-kick as he tried to win back possession outside the area around 25 yards from goal.

The reprieve for the Hornets was shortlived as Swift hit the free-kick with power, beating the static Bachmann in the centre of his goal to equalise.

Within three minutes, the visitors were in front.

Francisco Sierralta found Morris with his back to goal, but he was closed down and dispossessed by Darnell Furlong who played a one-two and received the ball back before crossing from the right and Wallace got across his man to prod a right-footed finish inside Bachmann’s far post to make it 2-1.

Despite that setback - and another preventabel error - the Hornets did not appear unduly rattled and six minutes later they levelled in some style.

Ince came into central midfield and played the ball out to the left where Martins advanced before coming inside on his right foot and curling a cracking finish into the far corner to make it 2-2.

Jayson Molumby received the game’s first yellow card in the 26th minute for a foul on Louza, but Watford were back in the ascendency and Mileta Rajovic wasn’t far away from getting his head on a Martins cross after a fine run from the Danish striker had not been spotted by Kone.

Martins demonstrated his shooting prowess again in the 33rd minute, letting fly from 25 yards with a well-struck effort that wasn’t too far wide of the top corner of Palmer’s near post.

The Hornets spurned a great chance to go back in front two minutes later when they won the ball back in midfield and Martins found Kone in space on the right side of his area, but he got too much on it as he tried to lift the ball over Palmer and put his attempted finish over the top.

Neither side was having a good night defensively and next it was Albion’s turn to try and capitalise on some disappointing work from the Hornets at the back as the ball was played into Swift from the right, but he fired over from the edge of the area.

It was Ince’s turn to clear the target with three minutes of normal time at the end of the first half remaining when the ball was laid back to him after Albion had failed to clear a Louza free-kick from wide on the left as an entertaining first period ended 2-2.

The Hornets emerged for the second half a couple of minutes before their opponents, suggesting Ismael’s half-time message may have been short and sharp.

The Baggies looked to make the early running after the restart as the heavy rain intensified, but Watford were soon back in their passing groove and enjoying more possession in their opponents’ half.

However, a mistake on the ball led to Thomas-Asante running at the Hornets rearguard in the 53rd minute, ending when he was fouled by Ryan Porteous with the inevitable yellow card quickly following.

The Albion striker had the first effort of the second half soon after, a powerful rising left-footed drive from the edge of the area which brought a fine one-handed save from Bachmann to push it over.

Both teams made a triple change in the 57th minute.

Ngakia and Morris had experienced disappointing nights and it was no surprise they were replaced by Ryan Andrews and Jamal Lewis, while goalscorer Ince made way for Yaser Asprilla.

The Baggies also took off their first goalscorer Swift, along with Molumby and Matt Phillips, with Alex Mowatt, Conor Townsend and Jeremy Sarmiento coming on.

Andrews though, was soon to need treatment after Cedric Kipre slid in for a challenge in the box and clearly won the ball, but then clattered through the substitute.

The teenage right-back was soon back into the action and was to be involved in the move that saw Watford go so close to going back in front again in the 64th minute, making an under-lapping run that gave Asprilla extra space to cross from the left and his delivery was met by Kone’s head, only for Palmer to make a magnificent one-handed save to divert the ball up onto the crossbar.

Porteous was injured in the ensuing goalmouth scramble and he soon had to concede defeat in his efforts to continue, with Mattie Pollock taking his place after 68 minutes.

Bachmann made a routine save from a Furlong header following a Sarimento cross, but it was Watford who were continuing to look the more threatening as Palmer again did well to keep out a Lewis shot through legs before also dealing with Kone’s follow up.

Former Hornet Nathaniel Chalobah came on in the 73rd minute in place of Wallace, before Vakoun Bayo entered the fray in place of Martins as the Hornets switched to a 4-4-2 formation.

The second period had not been as open as the first as both sides struggled to contend with the awful conditions, but Bachmann came to his side’s rescue with ten minutes remaining when he made a fine save to deny Thomas-Asante after a mistake by Hoedt had given Sarimento a free run at the retreating Hornets defence.

It was Watford’s turn to almost create an opening when Asprilla showed good strength to dispossess and get away from Chalobah before trying to thread Bayo through. The substitute’s first touch took the ball behind him but as he spun and shaped to pull the trigger Erik Pieters slid in to win the ball.

Back came Albion with an even better chance as Townsend’s cross from the left sat up invitingly for Furlong in the six-yard box, but Lewis did very well to win the ball him as the Albion man appealed in vain for a foul.

The closing stages were becoming end-to-end stuff as the rain finally started to relent, with Asprilla going on a run before firing a rising left-footed drive narrowly wide of Palmer’s near post.

Both sides would have fancied their chances of snatching a late winner as the game moved into six minutes of added time but neither was able to conjure up one last opportunity as the game ended all-square.

Watford: Bachmann; Ngakia (Andrews 57), Porteous (Pollock 68), Hoedt, Morris (Lewis 57); Sierralta; Louza, Kone; Ince (Asprilla 57), Rajovic, Martins (Bayo 76). Subs not used: Hamer, Livermore, Chakvetadze, Dele-Bashiru.

West Bromwich Albion: Palmer; Ajayi, Kipre, Pieters; Furlong, Yokuslu, Molumby (Mowatt 57), Phillips (Townsend 57); J Wallace (Chalobah 73), Thomas-Asante, Swift (Sarimento 57). Subs not used: Griffiths, Bartley, Diangana, Pipa, Fellows.

Bookings: Molumby for a foul on Louza (26); Porteous for a foul on Thomas-Asante (53); Louza for delaying the restart (90+4).

Referee: Leigh Doughty.