Watford finished the season to be forgotten with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Stoke.
Imran Luza and Keinan Davies scored goals in the second half to ensure Chris Wilder’s team at least finished the campaign with a first-half finish, but the loss came as a disappointing end to Stoke’s season as they failed to win either of the last seven games.
The Potters got off to a strong start and only needed 22 seconds to disturb the Watford defense when a furious 20-yard shot from Ben Pearson was knocked over the bar by Daniel Bachmann.
Pearson tried his luck again from a short distance when he received a corner as a result. This time, the Stoke midfielder’s shot landed on Rookery’s stand.
The Hornets goaltender was tested again in the third minute, clearing a corner kick from Josh Tymon as Stoke continued to threaten.
The hosts reacted by converting two of their own moments.
Luza’s cut-ball split the Stoke defense, but goalkeeper Matija Sarkic jumped out of his line and saved Ismail Sarr’s shot wide of the post.
Luza then lashed out at Davies, but experienced defender Phil Jagielka blocked a well-placed shot from the Watford striker.
Bachmann was called back to action shortly after, and climbed over his own net to parry a failed shot by Will Smallbone. Sarkic then beat off Ken Sem in the first 15 minutes with breathless who landed 10 shots on goal.
Tymon and Sarr both parried blows as the hectic pace finally died down.
Davies became more and more uncomfortable for the Stoke defenders, although he did frustrate the home supporters by taking too many touches and not getting hit.
But the Aston Villa tenant nearly scored Watford defender Ryan Andrews his first career goal with a smart pass, but the 18-year-old’s accurate shot was blocked.
The second half started off a little quieter, but at least scored two decisive goals – the first of which was a real moment of quality.
Luza’s nimble pass sent Sarr on goal, but Sarkic managed to knock the ball out from under his feet. Davies picked up the lost ball and put it on the plate for Luza to delightfully spin a curler with his left foot past Sarkic’s outstretched arm and into the net from the far post.
Four minutes later, Davis doubled the lead by intercepting Sema’s pass and driving into Stoke’s area. There was an element of fortune as his low shot clipped Morgan Fox and spun into the net.
The question remains whether Hornets boss Wilder will still be in charge of Vicarage Road next season, but if this was his last game, at least it ended in a win.