Darren Fletcher’s well-taken volley proved the difference as Watford fell to a 1-0 defeat to Stoke City at Vicarage Road.

The Hornets struggled to break down a solid Stoke defence and were frustrated throughout as their disciplined opponents restricted them to precious few chances.

Marco Silva’s side failed to register a shot of target on a day which is more likely to be remembered for a number of altercations than the quality of football played.

Watford’s midfield failed to fire, and Troy Deeney will consider himself lucky not have been sent off for grabbing hold on Joe Allen’s face late in the day.

Here’s how the Hornets rated on a disappointing day.

Heurelho Gomes – 7

Hillingdon Times:

Could do nothing about the Stoke goal and was scarcely tested for the remainders of the match. Did what work he had to with little fuss. Made a fine save late on as he came out to smother Saido Berahino’s shot.

Kiko Femenia – 6

Provided Watford’s most consistent attacking threat as he got forward whenever possible, but often failed to produce an end product. Brighter in the second half and put in a number of good crosses.

Christian Kabasele – 6

Precious little to deal with as Stoke opted to sit back and absorb Watford pressure. Coped well with what he had to and did little to disappoint.

Miguel Britos – 5.5

Sloppy in possession in the first half and gave the ball away cheaply throughout the first half and his use of the ball left plenty to be desired. Lost Berahino late on to give the Stoke sub a fine chance to make it 2-0.

Jose Holebas – 6

Got forward less than Femenia and like the rest of Watford’s defence faced few genuine questions from Stoke’s attack.

Abdoulaye Doucoure – 6.5

Did more than most to drive Watford forward with a number of buccaneering runs from central midfield. A dearth of movement in front of him made setting a tempo hard for the Watford number 16.

His use of the ball was also poor at times, but he improved considerably after the break and produced a number of defence splitting passes.

Etienne Capoue – 5

A familiar theme for the Frenchman as Capoue failed to make an impact on the game. Reluctant to get on the ball and his all-round display lacked commitment.

Tom Cleverley – 5

Hillingdon Times:

Showed unusual disdain for possession early in the first half as he gave the ball away cheaply on a number of occasions.

Improved after the break but was off the pace as he played in a deeper midfield role.

Marco Silva lay the blame for the Watford goal at Cleverley’s feet, saying the midfielder was responsible for marking the edge of the box.

Andre Carrillo – 5.5

Made a hash of a golden chance to level early in the second half when Holebas’ superb cross gave him a free header at the far post. Worked hard with little reward throughout.

Richarlison – 5

Made some early inroads but a deep, compacted Stoke defence made it hard for him the find the space he thrives on.

Fired wide from a tight angle with the goal at his mercy after Carrillo had headed back across goal. Missed a number of chances last week and continued the theme when heading wide from six yards.

Troy Deeney – 4.5

Hillingdon Times:

The Watford skipper was fortunate not to see red late on as he grabbed hold of Joe Allen’s face and dug his fingers into the Stoke man. He could well face retrospective action over the incident.

Isolated in the extreme in the first half and looked off the pace in his first home start of the season. Paired with Andre Gray for the final half hour but never really linked with his strike partner.

SUBS

Andre Gray – 5.5

Skewed a volley well wide of the mark when he really should have hit the target as the ball broke to him on the edge of the box.

Will Hughes – N/A

Hillingdon Times:

Came on for the final throws to make his Premier League debut. Looked bright and it would have been nice to have seen the summer signing introduced earlier in the day.