Vicarage Road was entertained this afternoon as Watford ended their four-game losing streak by beating Peterborugh United 3-2.

It took the Hornets only four minutes to take the lead when Mark Yeates fired home after Prince Buaben had chested down but Lee Frecklington’s fine finish levelled affairs 11 minutes later.

The Hornets were looking good to be in control of the game going into the break after two goals in three minutes – the first a penalty – from Marvin Sordell, only for some poor defending to allow Emile Sinclair to make it 3-2 six minutes before the break.

Sordell wasn’t far away from completing his hat-trick before Peterborough’s second and, but for an incredible Paul Jones save, he would have netted again after the break. But although there were no further goals in the second half, the Hornets were good value for the win after a performance that was a definite step forward.

Sean Dyche was always likely to shuffle his pack again following last week’s fourth straight defeat at Hull City but injuries also forced his hand, leading to four in total.

Lloyd Doyley and skipper John Eustace were sidelined with thigh and back injuries respectively, meaning Lee Hodson made his first start of the season and Buaben came in for his first league start. New loan recruit Nyron Nosworthy replaced David Mirfin at the heart of the defence, while Craig Forsyth returned at the expense of Troy Deeney. The Hornets’ other loan signing this week, Craig Beattie, was not involved due to a tight hamstring.

The match started relatively low key but it was the hosts who got off to the ideal start in the fourth minute.

Following a good spell of possession around the Peterborough area, Jonathan Hogg crossed to the back post, looking for Forsyth. He was beaten to the ball by Gabriel Zakuani, whose attempted clearing header only found Buaben in the heart of the area and the midfielder chested it down for Yeates to hit a first-time half-volley into the ground and past the static Jones for his third of the campaign.

Yeates wasn’t too far away soon after with a well-struck left-footed effort from the edge of the area that fizzed narrowly wide of Jones’ right-hand upright.

The Hornets seemed comfortable at that stage but Posh were to pull level in fine fashion in the 15th minute.

George Boyd got the better of a midfield tussle with Hogg and lifted the ball to the right side of the area where Frecklington brought it down before crashing a right-footed drive past Scott Loach and into the top corner to emphatically make it 1-1.

Having equalised, the visitors were inches away from taking the lead three minutes later when Grant McCann’s 25-yard free-kick beat the dive of Loach, only to rebound off the face of his left-hand post.

Marvin Sordell sent over a fine cross from the right as the Hornets sought to reassert themselves but it was Loach who was the next keeper called into action, diving to his right to push away a left-footed curler from Paul Taylor that threatened to surprise the keeper in the 27th minute.

Zakuani got on the end of the resultant corner but he was unable to get over the header, only for the visitors – or more specifically McCann – to shoot themselves on the foot.

The situation arose when Watford found themselves with a man over down the right and Sordell slipped in Buaben, who broke into the area and was clearly pulled back by the Peterborough skipper and referee Andy D’Urso had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Sordell had gone six games without a goal but he confidently sent Jones the wrong way, striking the ball down the middle of the goal to make it 2-1.

And having ended his mini goal drought, the England Under-21 international wasted no time in scoring his second – three minutes later to be precise – rising unmarked in the heart of the area to meet a Yeates free-kick and head it past the stranded Jones to give Watford a 3-1 advantage.

Loach had to get down to save a Frecklington cross-shot soon after but then Sordell nearly netted a Goal of the Season contender that would have given him a seven-minute hat-trick had his rasping left-footed 25-yard effort gone inside, rather than outside, Jones’ left-hand post, with the full-length keeper grasping at thin air.

However, Peterborough are the Championship’s second highest scorers for a reason and they cut the deficit to one again six minutes before the interval when a pass found Sinclair in far too much space on the right side of the area and he calmly fired across Loach to make it 3-2.

Carl Dickinson, who had been found wanting for both of Peterborough’s goals, had a goal-bound header from a corner blocked at the other end and then Sordell fired high and wide as an entertaining first half came to a close.

Buaben was high and wide from distance with the first effort of the second period but it was Loach who was the first keeper into action, diving to his left to keep out a shot from Boyd.

Posh had another chance moments later when Zakuani headed over a free-kick, only for Watford to somehow fail to make it 4-2 in the 55th minute – and the reason they didn’t wasn’t down to any shortcomings on their part.

The home side were awarded a free-kick in a great position 25 yards out and Yeates struck a superb effort, only to see it bounce out off the bar but Sordell looked certain to tuck away the rebound and complete his hat-trick but looked on in almost disbelief as Jones amazingly kept out his first-time volley with an outstretched leg.

Hogg was somewhat unfotunate to pick up the game’s first yellow card in the 65th minute following a challenge with McCann and then Chris Iwelwumo, who was producing his best performance in a Hornets’ shirt to date, couldn’t get enough on a Yeates free-kick from the right.

Some lovely one-touch Hornets passing in and around the Peterborough box ended with a Sordell shot being blocked by Forsyth and then the Posh keeper, under pressure from Iwelumo, held a looping header from the Scot following a free-kick.

Watford though, needed Loach to produce another smart stop with ten minutes remaining when he pushed an angled drive from Taylor around his near post and then Hodson did well to get across when Sinclair was threatening to pull the trigger after jinking into the area.

Iwelumo could have made it safe for the Hornets with four minutes remaining when he pulled off his man to meet a Dickinson cross from the left but he was unable to direct his header on target.

Another chance came and went in the third minute of injury time when Troy Deeney, who had replaced Yeates, broke into the area from the right and, with Sordell providing an option in the middle, he chose to go it alone, forcing Jones to save at his near post.

Watford: Loach; Hodson, Nosworthy, Mariappa, Dickinson; Yeates (Deeney 83), Hogg, Buaben, Forsyth; Iwelumo (Jenkins 89), Sordell. Not used: Mirfin, Garner and Bond.

Peterborough United: Jones; Little, Bennett, Zakuani, Kennedy; Frecklington, McCann (Ball 86), Boyd, Tunnicliffe; Taylor, Sinclair. Not used: Lewis, Rowe, Thompson and Kearns.

Bookings: Hogg for a foul on McCann (65).

Attendance: 15,031.

Referee: Andy D’Urso.