“We were there when Doyley scored.”

That was the chant that rang out around Vicarage Road tonight as Watford put consecutive away defeats behind them to beat neighbours Queens Park Rangers 3-1 and move back into the play-off zone – thanks in no small part to a truly special moment.

It looked like Patrick Agyemang would give the visitors an undeserved interval lead but two minutes before the break came the moment when Lloyd Doyley scored his first-ever professional goal, connecting with a superb diving header to divert Don Cowie’s half-volley back across the area past Radek Cerny.

Bouyed by that equaliser from the most unexpected of sources, the Hornets continued to be the better team after the break and were able to look towards a fourth successive home win after Don Cowie had scored his first of the campaign with a fine right-footed finish.

And the gloss was duly added in injury time when Danny Graham released Tom Cleverley to score the third on the counter-attack The home side had to do without the ineligible Heidar Helguson and injured Henri Lansbury but were the better team in the opening stages, despite Rowan Vine having the first attempt of the game.

Watford had nothing to show for their superiority in the opening 15 minutes though, and Rangers were not far away from taking the lead in the 16th minute when Alejandro Faurlin got in behind the right side of the Hornets defence and fizzed a cross-cum-shot across the six-yard box and wide of Loach’s left-hand post.

Watford’s first attempt came four minutes later when, after a build-up involving Graham and Nathan Ellington, Cowie laid the ball off on the edge of the area for Cleverley to strike a first-time rising right-footed drive high and wide of the target.

Soon after Cleverley did hit the target, this time with a header from Lee Hodson’s right-wing cross, but Cerny was not unduly troubled. Cowie then saw a volley from a cross from the opposite flank blocked behind for his side’s first corner of the match.

But, and somewhat out of the blue, it was the visitors who took the lead in the 34th minute.

Faurlin attacked the left-hand channel and played the ball inside where Agyemang got in between Craig Cathcart and Doyley and had the space to hit a low first-time right-footed effort inside Loach’s right-hand post.

Two minutes before the break though, came the moment that those inside Vicarage Road can look back on in the years to come and say ‘I was there’.

It started when Harley struck over a deep cross from the left, Cowie half-volleyed the ball back across the six-yard box and there was Doyley launching himself full length at the far post to head past Cerny and make it 1-1.

It was a quite incredible, almost surreal, moment because after the realisation that Watford had scored, there was almost a stunned sense of virtual silence until the penny dropped and then the Vicarage Road faithful went crazy.

Unsurprisingly, the right-back left to a standing ovation but the record books will read that it took Doyley until his 269th professional appearance to register his first goal Another significant moment happened at the start of the second half when Cathcart made for Jay DeMerit to make his return after more than three months on the sidelines.

But within 20 seconds of the restart the Hornets were almost in front.

Doyley found Graham on the left side of the area and he swung over a cross which Ellington met with a fine header that was heading inside the near post until Cerny managed to claw it onto the woodwork.

However, with their next opportunity on 56 minutes the home side did take the lead – and in some style.

Graham’s deft flick header really got the Hornets on the front foot and Cleverley found himself running at a horribly square Rangers defence. And, as he reached the edge of the area, he laid the ball to his right for Cowie to crack a superb right-footed drive past the dive of Cerny to make it 2-1.

Liam Henderson was already being readied to come on at that point and, perhaps surprisingly given his side had just scored Malky Mackay still went through with the substitution, with Ellington making way.

Rangers boss Jim Magilton followed suit by bringing on Adel Taarabt for Vine, but had it not been for the athleticism of Cerny Watford would have had a third on 67 minutes.

Cowie’s cross from the right was actually headed marginally backwards by Henderson but the ball sat up nicely for Harley, whose right-footed half-volley on the turn was well parried by the Rangers keeper. But he then did even better to prevent Graham from capitalising on the rebound.

Moments later though, Loach was forced into his first save of the second period to keep out a piledriver from Taarabt, but that man Doyley then decided to have another go with a well-struck angled right-footed drive that only cleared the bar by a yard or so.

Chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ then greeted Magilton’s decision to bring on Jay Simpson for Wayne Routledge, even though the winger was getting no change out of Doyley.

But it was Watford who continued to look the more likely, and Cleverley was next to try his luck with a left-footed drive from just inside the area that wasn’t too far over. Then a Harley cross from the left was headed back into the danger zone by John Eustace and Adrian Mariappa would surely have scored had he hit his shot on the turn anywhere but straight at Cerny.

The visitors made their third and final change with 15 minutes remaining, with the dangerous Akos Buzsaky coming on for Mikele Leigertwood.

Harley made way for Scott Severin with eight minutes left – but only after being fortunate to escape serious injury after a dangerous two-footed lunge from Damion Stewart that deserved more than the yellow card it received.

Referee Andrew Penn had his card out again soon after when Gary Borrowdale was rightly cautioned for a clear body check on Henderson, but Eustace sliced the resultant free-kick horribly wide.

And yellow card number three followed two minutes from the end of normal time when Fitz Hall took out Cleverley.

Rangers desperately sought a way back but they were undone deep into injury time when the home side added a third.

Graham, admittedly with half the pitch and three team-mates to aim for, released a terrific ball from the right to send Cleverley scampering free one-on-one and the on-loan Manchester United midfielder kept his head superbly to tuck away his seventh of the season.

Watford: Loach; Hodson, Mariappa, Cathcart (DeMerit 46), Doyley; Cowie, Eustace, Cleverley, Harley (Severin 82); Graham, Ellington (Henderson 56). Not used: Lee, Bennett, Sadler and Bryan.

Queens Park Rangers: Cerny; Ramage, Hall, Stewart, Borrowdale; Routledge (Simpson 72), Watson, Leigertwood (Buzsaky 76), Faurlin; Vine (Taarabt 59), Ageymang. Not used: Pellicori, Gorkss, Williams and Taylor.

Bookings: Stewart for a foul on Harley after 82 mins; Borrowdale for a foul on Henderson after 84 mins; Hall for a foul on Cleverley after 88 mins.

Attendance: 15,058 (1,442 away).

Referee: Andrew Penn.