FORMER Hatter Matthew Spring was the toast of Watford after he scored one and set up another to help his side beat Queens Park Rangers 3-1 at Vicarage Road tonight to leapfrog Luton Town into third in the Coca-Cola Championship.

The Hornets dominated throughout and deservedly led at the break through a Spring header. Rangers threatened briefly after the break but normal service was soon resumed and the Hornets clinched the points with further strikes from Anthony McNamee and Ashley Young.

Despite beating Wolves, Adrian Boothroyd decided to make one change with McNamee coming in for Darius Henderson, who dropped to the bench.

Ian Holloway also made one adjustment to the team which beat Derby on Saturday, but that was enforced with Paul Furlong suspended. Stefan Moore was given the nod, but Marc Nygaard and former Hornet Lee Cook had to settle for a place on the bench after recovering from their respective knocks.

Watford were first to threaten. Paul Devlin swung over a deep cross from the right, Marlon King headed back across goal and the ball eventually came to Gavin Mahon but his shot was deflected over. From the resultant corner, Devlin's cross evaded everyone, McNamee picked the ball up on the left hand side of the box and curled a right-footed effort towards the opposite corner but Simon Royce superbly tipped over.

Rangers took their time to settle and when they did force a corner on 17 minutes it broke down and James Chambers raced 60 yards on the break, played it across the penalty area to Marlon King and then Young but there was nobody in the box to meet the cross.

And Watford were creating the better chances; King superbly controlled Ben Foster's long kick and laid it into the Young but his effort from 18 yards was deflected wide and the corner came to nothing.

Young spurned the first clear opportunity on 9 minutes though, breaking the off-side trap and latching onto King's throughball down the right and, although the angle was very tight, he blazed over.

King then left Ian Evatt for dead with a wonderful 180 degree backheel turn off a Spring throughball to go clear but Royce showed a strong pair of hands to tip over.

And Watford were rewarded for their domination on 38 minutes with the opener. Devlin's deep cross from the right came all the way over to McNamee at the opposite flank. He drifted a cross to the far post and Young's centred downward header was deflected into the air for Spring to bravely score from six yards out with a diving header.

It could have been two four minutes later. Chambers and Young played a neat one-two and the full back skipped into the box past two challenges but Royce managed to come out, narrow the angle and block with his feet.

Marcus Bignot just avoided heading the ball into his own net after more Devlin trickery on the right created space for the former Scottish international to whip in a cross to the back post where McNamee was again lurking.

QPR introduced Hornets old boy Cook to a chorus of boos at half time but Watford continued to dominate and Danny Shittu did well to turn Young's cross around the post with King poised to score. The resultant corner was cleared for a second corner, and this time Young's set-piece eventually fell to Spring just inside the box but his powerful drive was punched clear by Royce.

But Rangers should have levelled moments later when an innocuous-looking throughball put Dean Sturridge in the clear and he looked certain to score but Foster spread himself well to clip the ball just over the bar.

In an end-to-end encounter, McNamee then flicked the ball forward to Young eight yards out but his header was too deft and Royce gathered comfortably.

Rangers slowly started to get on top though and Sturridge just failed to get on the end of a lobbed Cook cross from the left with the goal gaping.

But Watford doubled their advantage on 69 minute's. Doyley threw long into the Rangers box and King, with his back to goal controlled well and laid it back to Spring on the edge of the box. King slipped it to his left and McNamee slid the ball under Royce from an acute angle on the right to finish the contest.

In echoes of Saturday, Watford were quick to score again with the third coming on 76 minutes. McNamee was scythed down on the left touchline and Young whipped in the cross with his right foot and it evaded everybody before nestling in the far corner.

Rangers did grab a consolation in the first minute of injury time when Shittu powerfully headed home a Cook corner from the left.

Watford: Foster; Doyley, DeMerit, Carlisle, Chambers; Devlin, Spring, Mahon, McNamee; King, Young. Substitutes: Bangura for Spring after 82 mins. Chamberlain, Mackay, Stewart, Henderson not used.

Queens Park Rangers: Royce; Bignot, Shittu, Evatt, Dyer; Ainsworth, Doherty, Santos, Gallen; Moore, Sturridge. Substitutes: Nygaard and Cook for Ainsworth and Santos after 45 mins; Langley for Moore after 73 mins. Milanes and Cole not used.

Bookings: None.

Attendance: 16,476.

Referee: Martin Atkinson (Leeds, West Yorkshire).