Friday 2 December 2016

Hughes praise for Walters

Watford 1 Stoke City 2

Andy Sims

Published 20/03/2016 | 02:30

Stoke City's Joselu celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game with teammate Marko Arnautovic. Photo: Daniel Hambury/PA Wire.
Stoke City's Joselu celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game with teammate Marko Arnautovic. Photo: Daniel Hambury/PA Wire.
Stoke City's Joselu tries to keep the ball away from Watford's Nathan Ake. Photo: Daniel Hambury/PA Wire

Quique Sanchez Flores denied Watford were suffering an FA Cup hangover after they slipped to defeat. The Hornets looked a pale shadow of the side which memorably beat Arsenal six days ago to reach the semi-finals.

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Goals in each half from Jonathan Walters and Joselu gave Stoke a comfortable victory despite Troy Deeney's late consolation. But Watford boss Flores insists his players are not already thinking about their Wembley date with Crystal Palace next month.

"We don't play again in the FA Cup for a month," he said. "I don't think the players are thinking about the semi-final, and if they are it would be a very big mistake."

Stoke took the lead in the 18th minute when Hornets defender Miguel Britos missed Phil Bardsley's cross and Walters pounced at the far post. Six minutes after half-time they made it two thanks to an error from Heurelho Gomes and a canny piece of invention from Walters. Hornets keeper Gomes scuffed his goal-kick straight to Walters, who instinctively volleyed the ball into the path of Joselu leaving the Spaniard clean through to score with a deft lob.

Watford pulled one back when Deeney headed in a cross from substitute Ikechi Anya, but they could not prevent Mark Hughes' side moving to within a point of Manchester United in sixth place.

Walters was the star of the show, despite having only been recalled due to injuries after a spell out of the side.

"You could tell from the start that he was focused and ready to make an impact," said Stoke manager Hughes. "He's not been playing for the last few weeks but he came in to good effect."

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