Stoke end barren run to add to Watford woes

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Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Stoke got back on track with a 2-0 win over Watford on Tuesday that added to the pressure on Hornets manager Walter Mazzarri.

Ryan Shawcross scored his first goal for two years in first-half stoppage time before Peter Crouch netted his 98th Premier League goal shortly after the interval at the Britannia Stadium.

Stoke’s first win in six matches lifted them up to 11th in the table, above injury-ravaged Watford, whose boss Mazzarri looks under increasing pressure following a sixth defeat in their last eight games.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes persisted with his three-man defence, having switched to it for November’s win at Watford, and also had striker Marko Arnautovic back from suspension.

Arnautovic was set free by Joe Allen’s through ball after a mistake by Sebastian Prodl and the Austrian cut the ball across the six-yard box for Jonathan Walters, who might have scored were it not for Miguel Britos’s brilliant intervention.

A half between two sides who had conceded a combined eight goals at the weekend was heading for a scoreless conclusion before Shawcross struck in stoppage time.

The Stoke skipper met Charlie Adam’s corner 12 yards out and his effort was only helped into the corner by Gomes, with no man on his near post to spare his stopper’s blushes.

Four minutes after the interval Stoke doubled their lead.

The Hornets had nearly levelled when Abdoulaye Doucoure’s fierce right-footed try was pushed out by Lee Grant before their defensive shortcomings once again reared their head.

A semi-cleared corner found its way back out to Adam on the left and his weak low cross somehow managed to get past Prodl, with Crouch, standing behind him, knowing little about the finishing touch which saw the ball divert off his thigh and into the corner.

It was the first time since February 2015 that the 35-year-old had netted in back-to-back Premier League games.

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