Troy Deeney off the mark as Watford overcome in-form Stoke
Troy Deeney notched his first goal of the season as Watford ended Stoke's winning run by beating them 2-0 at the Britannia Stadium.
The Hornets skipper - who netted 21 times in the club's promotion campaign last term - opened the scoring in the 43rd minute from a flick by fellow forward Odion Ighalo, moments after each player had hit the crossbar just seconds apart.
Almen Abdi wrapped things up in the 69th minute following a mistake by Marc Wilson to spoil Mark Hughes' 100th game in charge of Stoke, who had gone into the match looking for a fourth straight Barclays Premier League victory.
The result sees Quique Sanchez Flores' side leapfrog their hosts in the table, moving up to 13th while the Potters slip to 14th.
Deeney almost found himself presented with a great chance in the opening seconds when Geoff Cameron got in a mess near the Stoke goal, but Glen Johnson was on hand to make a cool interception.
Cameron, holding his right thigh, had to come off soon after for Wilson as the home side tried to get a grip on the game.
They managed to boss possession for much of the first half and had several corners but were unable to really threaten, with Marko Arnautovic somewhat summing things up in the 29th minute when he shouldered a decent opportunity over the bar.
Watford then suddenly sprung into life in attack in the 37th minute, hitting the bar twice in quick succession via Ighalo's header and a shot from Deeney.
They subsequently grabbed the lead when Ighalo bamboozled Wilson as he cleverly flicked Abdi's pass to Deeney, who took advantage of a Philipp Wollscheid slip to slot in from the edge of the box.
Stoke - who moments earlier had been denied an opener direct from Xherdan Shaqiri's corner by a near-post Heurelho Gomes save - then had protests that Miguel Britos had handled a cross from the Switzerland winger in front of goal waved away by referee Martin Atkinson.
Watford got a similar reaction from the official after the break as Ighalo and Ikechi Anya looked his way following challenges on them in the area by Wilson and Erik Pieters respectively.
Hughes looked to shake up his attack on the hour by bringing on Peter Crouch and Jonathan Walters for Joselu and Shaqiri.
But it was Watford who found the net soon after as Wilson lost possession to Ighalo and he teed up Abdi, who burst forward and smashed past Jack Butland.
The England goalkeeper then made a good save to keep out an effort from substitute Juan Carlos Paredes, while Walters struck across the face of goal at the other end as Stoke's hopes faded.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"If you told me 13 points from 10 games I'd have taken it in a flash Everyone associated with the club deserves credit" - Watford fan account @watfordfcgossip on the Hornets' season so far.
PLAYER RATINGS (Out of 10)
Jack Butland - 6
Erik Pieters - 5
Geoff Cameron - 4
Philipp Wollscheid - 5
Glen Johnson - 6
Glenn Whelan - 6
Charlie Adam - 6
Marko Arnautovic - 6
Bojan Krkic - 6
Xherdan Shaqiri - 6
Joselu - 6
Marc Wilson - 5
Jonathan Walters - 6
Peter Crouch - 6
Heurelho Gomes - 6
Nathan Ake - 6
Miguel Britos - 6
Craig Cathcart - 6
Allan Nyom - 6
Ben Watson - 6
Etienne Capoue - 6
Ikechi Anya - 6
Almen Abdi - 7
Troy Deeney - 8
Odion Ighalo - 8
Juan Carlos Paredes - 6
Valon Behrami - 6
Adlene Guedioura - 6
Odion Ighalo: Created both goals, hit the crossbar and generally made a nuisance of himself.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Troy Deeney's goal: The moment the Watford skipper had waited so long for finally arrived, and in fine style. Set up by some nifty footwork by Ighalo, Deeney took his chance with aplomb, striking confidently past Jack Butland to register his first-ever Premier League goal.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
Boss Mark Hughes understandably selected the same team that had extended the Stoke's winning run at Swansea, but the likes of Joselu, Bojan, Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic failed to fire in attack. The manager switched things around on the hour by bringing on Peter Crouch and Jonathan Walters, but it made little difference. On the defensive front, Hughes will be pleased Ryan Shawcross is nearly ready to return given Geoff Cameron's injury and the performance of his repalcement Marc Wilson.
Opposite number Quique Sanchez Flores will be pleased all-round; that someone other that Ighalo - who had five of their six goals to date for the campaign prior to this match - has scored, that it was the hard-working Deeney getting off the mark, and with the general way his defensively-resolute side picked up another creditable result.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
Stoke went into this game with real momentum and it looked on paper - at home, against a newly-promoted side - like a very good opportunity to chalk up another victory.
But Hughes' players ultimately let him down in his 100th game in charge. They saw plenty of the ball, particularly in the first half, but their finishing was wasteful and mistakes at the back cost them.
WHO'S UP NEXT?
Stoke v Chelsea (Capital One Cup, Tuesday October 27)
Watford v West Ham (Premier League, Saturday October 31)