Troy Deeney and Almen Abdi have got their scoring campaigns up and running as Watford produced a superb all-round performance to earn a deserved 2-0 victory at Stoke City.

The Hornets skipper opened his account shortly before the interval when he calmly fired his side into the lead against a Potters team who did not look right from the outset.

They were hesitant at the back from the first whistle, got worse after the break and the Hornets sensed it was their opportunity as they increasingly took control of proceedings, netting a decisive second when substitute Marc Wilson played himself into real trouble against Odion Ighalo, enabling Abdi to burst forward and emphatically fire home.

Although they were second best in terms of possession and territory for much of the first half, Watford were relatively comfortable throughout and again looked solid at the back. And in the last ten minutes of the opening period they came to real life as an attacking force.

Stoke survived a double let off when Ighalo and Deeney both hit the crossbar in the same sequence of play, but two minutes before the interval the Hornets captain’s wait for his first Premier League goal at last came to an end as he confidently side-footed past Butland to make it 1-0.

It was an ideal time to take the lead and although Mark Hughes sent his side out early for the second half, the Potters boss didn’t get the reaction he was looking for. In fact, the hosts got progressively worse as their opponents increasingly took command and on another day they may have scored more than two.

Quique Sanchez Flores made just the one change from the side that lost 3-0 against Arsenal last weekend but it was not one that many would have expected as Miguel Britos came in for his first Premier League start in place of Sebastian Prodl, who dropped to the bench.

Stoke went into the game seeking a fifth successive win in all competitions and, perhaps unsurprisingly given he had no fresh injury concerns, Hughes named the same starting XI that defeated Swansea City on Monday night for his 100th game in charge of the Potters.

The hosts began the match playing keep ball but it was the Hornets who had the first opening in the third minute when Craig Cathcart played a long ball up to Deeney who, aided by the wind holding it up, was able to get the better of a tussle with Geoff Cameron and got goal side. But as the Hornets skipper prepared to pull the trigger, Glen Johnson got a foot in and was able to divert the ball back to Butland, the keeper diving to prevent a corner.

Watford looked the more settled of the two sides in the opening minutes but Stoke had their first sight of goal when Xherdan Shaqiri worked the ball back from the byline to the right of goal to Charlie Adam, who took aim from 22 yards but fired wide of Heurelho Gomes’ near post.

Hughes was forced into an unwanted early change in the ninth minute when the Cameron came off with what looked to be a thigh injury and was replaced by Wilson.

Stoke started to come into the game more as an offensive force, although a couple of potentially good situations were wasted due to over-hit Shaqiri deliveries, before Adam struck a dropping ball wide from the edge of the area after Nathan Ake had been unable to get any real distance on a clearing header.

The hosts continued to be in the ascendency in terms of territory and possession as the midway point of the opening period came and went, but the Hornets were standing firm defensively. However, they were inviting pressure on themselves by conceding a number of free-kicks, one of which led to Adam having a long range 26th-minute effort deflected behind for a corner off the wall.

Another opening came the Potters’ way three minutes later when Shaqiri drifted in a left-footed inswinging delivery from the right and Marko Arnautovic got free in the 18-yard box, but put his header over the top.

While not being under constant pressure, Watford had been on the back foot for much of the first half. But it needed the woodwork to come to Stoke’s rescue not once, but twice in the 37th minute to prevent the visitors going in front.

Deeney set things moving with a ball in behind Erik Pieters that set Ikechi Anya away in space down the right. The Hornets wide man stood up a cross which Ighalo met with a header which beat Butland, but cannoned back off the face of his bar. The rebound fell for Ighalo, whose attempted follow-up was partially blocked to Abdi, he missed his kick but managed to work the ball to Deeney to his left. The Hornets skipper opened up his body to go for a right-footed finish, only to seen his effort also rebound away off the woodwork.

Stoke were fortunate not to be behind but within a couple of minutes they almost took the lead when Gomes had to move very smartly to his left to keep out a wicked inswinging corner from the right from Shaqiri.

But two minutes before the break came the moment when Deeney, at the tenth game of asking, became a Premier League goalscorer.

Watford Observer:

Troy Deeney fires Watford into the lead

A lapse in the Potters defence following some fine work by Ighalo gave him the opportunity and having already missed one fine chance, the Watford captain wasn’t going to pass up a second, again opening up his body but this time curling the ball beyond Butland and into the bottom corner to put the visitors in the driving seat at the break.

Deeney was the last player to head down the tunnel at the interval but the visiting fans vividly demonstrated what that goal meant, standing as one to salute the striker as he left the pitch.

There was a painful start to the second half for Ighalo who, already lying on the ground following a challenge, was then caught in the head by an accidental boot from Adam. After receiving treatment though, Watford’s top scorer was able to continue.

Against a Stoke defence looking less than certain at times, the visitors were sensing an opportunity to build on their lead. One chance almost arrived in the 57th minute when Ighalo met a Ben Watson corner from the right with a well-struck volley that would certainly have troubled Butland had it not been blocked.

Hughes decided he’d seen enough by the hour and made a double change as Jonathan Walters and Peter Crouch replaced Shaqiri and Joselu, with the Hornets still looking the more threatening.

Flores made his first change in the 65th minute with Juan Carlos Paredes coming on for Anya and then Gomes was extended for the first time in the second half as Adam fired over a corner from the right.

But Watford had been threatening a second goal and with 20 minutes remaining it was delivered in emphatic fashion by another first-time scorer for the season and thanks to the tenacity of his teammate.

Watford Observer:

Almen Abdi makes it 2-0

Ighalo hassled and harangued Wilson into losing possession out of position near to the right touchline and the ball was laid off to Abdi, who advanced before rifling a right-footed shot inside Butland’s near post to make it 2-0.

With the Hornets fans in party mood behind by the goal their team were attacking, the boys in black this afternoon had their tails up. Abdi sliced a shot wide after another incisive move before Butland had to move very sharply to block behind a right-footed piledriver from Paredes.

Walters did have a chance to reduce the deficit when he was played in down the inside left channel but he dragged his shot across the target and wide before Glenn Whelan became the first player to be booked for a foul on Capoue.

Valon Behrami made his return with 13 minutes to go when he replaced Abdi but the Golden Boys were still looking to add to their tally; Capoue the next to chance his arm with a shot from the edge of the area that went wide.

Adlene Guedioura came on for the last couple of minutes in place of Ighalo, the striker earning a booking for the length of time it took him to leave the pitch, while Pieters also suffered the same fate for pushing the Nigerian.

Adam also saw yellow for a foul on Capoue as Stoke’s frustration continued to be visibly apparent as Watford saw out the closing stages without undue alarm to deservedly secure the points.

Watford Observer:

United in celebration after the final whistle: a head coach with his captain and goalkeeper

Stoke City: Butland; Johnson, Cameron (Wilson 9), Wollscheid, Pieters; Whelan, Adam; Shaqiri (Walters 60), Bojan, Arnautovic; Joselu (Crouch 60). Not used: Given, Ireland, Afellay, Van Ginkel.

Watford: Gomes; Nyom, Cathcart, Britos, Ake; Watson, Capoue; Anya (Paredes 65), Deeney, Abdi (Behrami 77); Ighalo. Not used: Arlauskis, Prodl, Guedioura, Ibarbo, Diamanti.

Bookings: Whelan for a foul on Capoue (77); Ighalo for time wasting (88); Pieters for protesting (88); Adam for a foul on Capoue (90).

Attendance: 27,587 (2,866 away fans).

Referee: Martin Atkinson.