Wasteful Hornets beaten by Stoke

Mark Hughes Stoke

Watford wasted a number of good opportunities against Stoke City and were made to pay the price as a magnificent Darren Fletcher goal separated the two teams in Saturday’s Premier League clash at Vicarage Road.

Watford 0 Stoke City 1
Fletcher volleys home a stunner
Deeney misses half-chances
Richarlison fluffs two golden opportunities
Berahino misses a late one-on-one

Match summary

Watford completely dominated possession and were made to pay as a stunning Fletcher strike handed the visitors an early lead. The Hornets pressure continued and Troy Deeney came close on a couple of occasions.

After the break, Richarlison missed the home team’s two best chances before substitute Saido Berahino was off target from a one-on-one situation in the closing stages for Stoke. Charlie Adam missed an open goal late on.

Match report

Watford started in confident fashion as they dominated the majority of the possession in the opening 15 minutes without really threatening. Somewhat against the run of play, Stoke hit the front as Fletcher fired Mark Hughes’ men into a 1-0 lead.

After Mame Biram Diouf won a corner from a deflection off Etienne Capoue, Xherdan Shaqiri’s 16th minute corner from the right found the Scotland international, who volleyed home a magnificent right-footed volley from the far side of the big box.

The Hornets nearly hit back in the 25th minute when Jose Holebas curled a lovely cross into the box from the right, but Deeney failed to make contact with a volley when he may have done better.

Just before the break, Stoke again threatened on a counter as Diouf made another break down the right-hand side. However, his square cross towards Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting was wasted by the Cameroon international, who scuffed his backheel wide in the box.

After the interval, the Hornets continued to buzz and pour forward in waves and it was Deeney who was denied at the near post by a superb last gasp Ryan Shawcross tackle, from Kiko Femenia’s driven cross from the right.

In the 56th minute, Richarlison missed a sitter when Holebas’ shot from the right edge of the box was deflected wide by Jack Butland, but somehow the Brazilian hit his strike into the side-netting from a tight angle on the left with the goal gaping.

Soon after the 20-year-old missed another good chance at the far post after a cross was curled in his direction first time from the right by Miguel Britos, though he headed wide with the goal at his mercy.

It was virtually all Watford in the second stanza though the Potters were showing real resolve in defending resolutely in their numbers. In the closing stages City were fighting for their lives in the final third, as Shawcross put his body on the line to deny Abdoulaye Doucoure.

On a rare break, substitute Berahino found himself one-on-one from Shaqiri’s superb pass with Heurelho Gomes, though his effort went wide off the keeper’s foot.

With numbers being thrown forward, Adam missed an open goal after rounding Gomes but he rolled his effort off the post as the away outfit collected all three points.