Stoke took the lead just before the half hour mark, Charlie Adam’s header from point-blank range cannoned off the post, before rebounding off Heurelho Gomes back into his own goal.
Stoke dominated the first half
Stoke were the much better team in the first half, and had a lot of joy down the flanks, particularly down to the interchanging front four that Mark Hughes set out.
The first chance fell to Stoke, after some ping-pong in the Watford area, Mame Biram Diouf’s shot found Bruno Martins Indi a few feet away from goal but his snatched shot was straight at Gomes.
Daryl Janmaat and Etienne Capoue had two long-range strikes comfortably saved either side of an Giannelli Imbula shot from distance narrowly missed the target.
Imbula, Stoke’s record signing, was back in the squad following injuries to Glenn Whelan and Geoff Cameron, and Joe Allen being suspended for this fixture.
The game turned feisty before Adam’s goal, illustrated clearly by Watford picking up three yellow cards in the first half.
The winning goal was a fortunate one, Xherdan Shaqiri’s corner was met by Adam after getting free of Valon Behrami. The goal was all too easy for Stoke, and one that Walter Mazzarri won’t be happy with.
Adam did push Behrami to get free in the box, but the Swiss international didn’t complain to the referee.
Watford did grow into the game before half time, but didn’t challenge Lee Grant in goal enough before the home side were booed off when the half time whistle blew.
A much slower second half
Stoke started the second half as they ended the first, as Marko Arnautovic broke on the counter, attempted to slide the ball across to a goalbound Jonathan Walters but the Irishman couldn’t quite get to the cross.
On his 100th Premier League appearance, Diouf particularly impressed, did plenty of damage on the right flank and defended exceptionally well whenever Jose Holebas, and later Janmaat broke forward.
Stoke had won just one of their last nine away games coming into this fixture, so a win on the road surely would send Hughes home happy.
The second half was much slower, in terms of pace and chances created as Stoke started to drop deeper and deeper as the game went on.
Watford pushed hard for an equaliser, piled the pressure on late in the game and ended with three strikers on the pitch after Odion Ighalo and Stefano Okaka were brought on in addition to Troy Deeney.
While there was a lot of late pressure, Watford didn’t really trouble Grant in goal enough.
Miguel Britos was sent off late into the game for a second yellow card, after bringing down Shaqiri on the counter attack.
The result sees Stoke move up to 10th, while Watford stay in 8th.