BOGEY team Stoke gave Watford another difficult afternoon.
Mark Hughes’ men had won their last three matches against the high-flying Hornets but looked set for the chop this time as they arrived at Vicarage Road in 17th position.
And with Fletcher, 33, dominating midfield along with partner Joe Allen, Watford looked nothing like the team who had beaten Arsenal a fortnight earlier and frightened the life out of Chelsea in their last match.
Pre-match, Stoke trailed their formation as 3-4-2-1 but it looked suspiciously like 5-4-1 as they set out to soak up early Watford pressure.
After just two wins in 10 league starts, under-pressure City boss Hughes was in no mood to give anything away to Watford, who started the day in sixth spot.
He was looking for something on the breakaway and he got it when Xherdan Shaqiri took a free-kick from wide on the left that led to Mame Biram Diouf winning a corner on the opposite flank.
Shaqiri duly took the kick, finding Fletcher in the D, and the Scot fired home first time.
The ball appeared to take a deflection off Troy Deeney but there was no doubt it was goal bound anyway.
What a way for Fletcher to mark his 101st consecutive Premier League appearance, the longest current run in the competition.
Watford’s Tom Cleverley and Stoke City’s Joe Allan battle for the ball during today’s clash – there were two fights that broke out during today’s fixture[/caption]
Deeney and Richarlison went close after the break but Allen missed a chance to kill off the game when he fired wide on the hour.
But as Watford piled on the pressure, Stoke keeper Jack Butland hardly had a save to make.
FACTS, STATS, GOALS & LOLS
Stoke will make it their sixth win from their last eight visits to Vicarage Road
Darren Fletcher scored his first goal for Stoke City since he joined this summer
There were two ‘fights’ that broke out during today’s fixture- as Silva and Hughes were both warned about their players’ conduct
Troy Deeney was lucky to receive a yellow as he grabbed Stoke players by the throat
— Chris Kamara (@chris_kammy) October 28, 2017
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