Belfast Telegraph

Hughes keen for Crouch to stay as striker closes in on milestone

Stoke 2 Watford 0

By Liam Blackburn

Ryan Shawcross and Peter Crouch scored either side of the interval to earn Stoke a first win in six and pile more misery on Walter Mazzarri's Watford. Potters skipper Shawcross, whose last goal came exactly two years and two days earlier, fired past an unconvincing Heurelho Gomes in half-time stoppage time before Crouch benefited from some abject defending from Sebastian Prodl for his 98th Premier League goal - just days after netting his 97th in the defeat to Chelsea - shortly after the resumption.

The 2-0 success lifted Mark Hughes' men up to 11th in the table, above the injury-ravaged Hornets, whose head coach Mazzarri looks under increasing pressure amid fears they could be in the midst of a similar collapse to the one they suffered in the second half of last season.

Hughes said: "We have played better and been beaten in recent weeks, we got goals at good times and then saw the game out quite comfortably.

"We didn't really have to deal with too many moments of anxiety. It's good to get a clean sheet, because we have shipped some poor goals in recent weeks."

On Crouch being offered a new deal, he added: "Peter has been playing really well and if you put balls in the right areas you know he is going to get on the end of things.

"He's done very well and has good support. I am sure we will get something done - he is playing as well as he ever has done."

Watford coach Mazzarri said: "We played well, but two episodes, two mistakes, and they managed to score goals.

"We could have scored before them and we didn't do it, but we demonstrated we can play against a difficult team like Stoke. We have to keep going and give everything for the next match. Nothing is going our way, so it is just an unlucky period but we need to change this.

"We have many injuries, so it is not a positive period."

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