Watford 1-2 Stoke City: Slow start costs hosts

A 2-1 victory at Vicarage Road was enough to keep the Potters within touching distance of European qualification, whilst the home fans were left downbeat.

Watford 1-2 Stoke City: Slow start costs hosts
Stoke celebrate (photo: PA)
Watford
1 2
Stoke City
Watford: Gomes, Nyom, Prodl, Cathcart, Ake, Behrami, Watson, Capoue, Guedioura, Ighalo, Deeney
Stoke City: Butland, Bardsley, Cameron, Wollscheid, Muniesa, Whelan, Imbula, Walters, Afellay, Arnautovic. Joselu
SCORE: 0-1 Walters 17, 0-2 Joselu 50, 1-2 Deeney 86

An excellent away display by Stoke City helped them see off an out of form Watford, who now have just two wins in their last 13 Premier League games. Stoke, meanwhilem are now only a point behind sixth place Manchester United and five points outside the Champions League places.

A positive start from the hosts soon filters out as Stoke take control

Full of confidence after their FA Cup quarter-final victory over Arsenal last weekend, Watford came flying out of the blocks as they dominated possession. Yet Stoke soon showed why it is important to turn having the ball into chances when they opened the scoring on 17 minutes. A 13 pass move, involving eight Stoke players, was eventually finished off by the excellent Jonathan Walters.

Marko Arnautovic had the ball in the back of the net 17 minutes later, but the assistant referee had raised his flag when Phil Bardsley's cross was delivered in a very tight call. As the first half drew to a close, Watford fans were left wondering what had happened to the tempo and desire their side showed last week.

Joy for Joselu

Within minutes of the second half beginning, the game was all but over. The usually reliable Heurelho Gomes played a poor clearance straight to Walters, who volleyed the ball into the path of Joselu. The Spanish striker then neatly clipped the ball over a stranded Gomes to double Stoke's advantage.

Joselu and Ibrahim Afellay both had opportunities to put the game beyond doubt, but the Hornets rarely threatened until Troy Deeney grabbed a consolation with five minutes to go. Ikechi Anya found his captain with a neat cross before Deeney headed the ball past Jack Butland. It was Watford's first goal at home in the league since the end of January, but they could not capitalise on their chance to get back into the game.