More games from 22nd March at https://oldwatford.com/tag/mar22
More games from 22nd March at https://oldwatford.com/tag/mar22
Gray’s goal 11 minutes from time booked Watford’s place at Wembley for the second time in four years after a passionate quarter-final at Vicarage Road, which the hosts were good value for edging. They took advantage of increasing first-half momentum to move ahead on the half-hour when Etienne Capoue was teed up by Craig Cathcart after Vincent Guiata missed a punch from a corner. But Michy Batshuayi then levelled after half-time following a horrible mistake from Adrian Mariappa.
Nearly 35 years since their solitary appearance in the FA Cup final under Graham Taylor, Watford now have the chance under Gracia to emulate that famous side by reaching the Wembley showpiece match in May for a second time. The Spaniard’s name reverberated around the stadium at the final whistle as the veteran goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes – who is planning to take up a new career as a pastor at the end of the season – wept tears of joy. “When the team was suffering in the second half they were very important for the team,” Gracia said of his club’s fans. “I think they really lifted our players.”
It had been a long time coming, but finally Watford have their revenge. After losing to Crystal Palace in the 2013 Championship play-off final and the 2016 FA Cup semi-final, they have made it past their bogey team. As the crowd sang loud at the final whistle, Javi Gracia’s side are on their way to Wembley. And in the process they have consigned Roy Hodgson to another season without an FA Cup semi-final appearance.
Raheem Sterling’s quick-fire second-half hat-trick sent Manchester City four points clear at the top of the Premier League, but there was controversy over the opener that broke down a stubborn Watford side.
Sterling’s first goal, 40 seconds after half-time, was initially ruled out for offside but after a long discussion, referee Paul Tierney overturned his own decision, with Daryl Janmaat’s attempted block just before Sterling struck ruled as having played the winger onside.
Janmaat’s involvement did not change some basic facts, namely that Sterling had been offside from Agüero’s flick-on and was going for the ball, prominently involved in play. Yet Tierney came away from a lengthy discussion with his assistant, Adrian Holmes, by deciding to overrule the original decision and declare Sterling was, in fact, onside. Confused? Well, join the club. Javi Gracia, the Watford manager, tries not to be a critic of referees and showed commendable restraint afterwards, noting only his belief it was very much the wrong decision. As for Guardiola, he pointed out that English football should have had VAR in place long before now.
After the floodgates opened in the second half, Watford did strike back with one goal, coming from the first two touches of their two substitutes, introduced moments earlier on 65 minutes. Troy Deeney’s flick-on was finished well by Gerard Deulofeu.
Like the majority of Watford fans, I don’t travel to places like City expecting anything out of the game, so the fact that the home side had the vast majority of the possession and Watford had only the single shot on target came as no surprise. Unlike the trip to Liverpool, Watford were more effective in defence and, had the referee not interfered, the result may have been more favourable.
This game was given added spice by the announcement five days beforehand that former Watford manager Brendan Rodgers had left Celtic to take over the vacant manager’s job at Leicester City. The Guardian detailed the story of his time at Vicarage Road.
A last-gasp goal from Andre Gray denied Brendan Rodgers his first point as Leicester manager as Watford earned a 2-1 win in the Premier League on Sunday. Rodgers’ debut saw him return to the club where got his first managerial job after being appointed at Leicester on Tuesday, but it was a terrible start for the former Celtic boss as Troy Deeney scored inside five minutes.
Troy Deeney insists there will be no Watford “meltdown” this season after the Hornets continued their impressive campaign with a late victory over Leicester in Brendan Rodgers’ first game in charge of the Foxes.
Watford boss Javi Gracia says his team “deserved” the win after beating Leicester City 2-1 at Vicarage Road, the Spaniard is also pleased with the “ambition” his players continue to show, saying they want “more and more” as the Hornets aim to finish the season strongly.
Among all the accusations that have swirled around since Brendan Rodgers swapped Celtic for Leicester, there has been little suggestion that he picked the easy option. Watford provided an instant crash course in the perpetual uncertainty of the Premier League’s middle third and, when the substitute Andre Gray ran through in added time to send a charged-up Vicarage Road into raptures, it felt like enough to stop even the most incorrigible optimist in their tracks.
Leicester were indebted to Kasper Schmeichel and then Wes Morgan for keeping Watford out from a third-minute free-kick, only to fall behind to another free-kick two minutes later. Gerard Deulofeu curled in the dead ball with such ferocity that Troy Deeney needed only to allow it to skim the top of his head to beat Schmeichel.
The beginning, strictly speaking, is Tuesday’s management announcement in Leicestershire which confirmed that for the third home game in a row we would be facing a former boss. The third of the three home games this calendar year incidentally versus nine away of which only two defeats, a figure distorted by cup draws and Spurs’ stadium nonsense… but these statistics which highlight how well the present incumbent is doing and how the identity and history of the Other Bloke only matters up to a point.
Leicester’s decision to dispense with the services of Claude Puel and appoint Brendan Rodgers meant that this was the third home game in a row in which we would face a former manager. It also ensured a better atmosphere than may have been expected on a Sunday lunchtime as Mr Integrity returned to Vicarage Road.
Fear stalked the Watford defence each time Salah received the ball in space, a lesson they failed to heed from United’s approach at Old Trafford. The paucity of the visitors’ attacking display was summed up by Javi Gracia withdrawing both of his forwards, Troy Deeney and the erratic Gerard Deulofeu, in a double substitution.
In many respects, Watford did well to keep it to three before the last ten minutes when the situation finally became critical, two crosses delivered into the box – one each from the two full-backs – and both headed past Ben Foster by Virgil Van Dijk.
Deulofeu opened the scoring in the 18th minute in a first half where Cardiff felt they should have had a penalty when Josh Murphy went down in the box under a strong challenge from Daryl Janmaat (42).
Deulofeu had not scored for eight matches but looked as if he was back playing for Barcelona as he ran riot in the second half. Abdoulaye Doucoure headed Bennett’s free-kick clear and into the path of the former Everton player, who knocked the ball past Manga on the halfway line, before taking it round Neil Etheridge and slotting home his fifth goal of the season.
His third also came thanks to generous defending, this time from Harry Arter, who was intercepted by Etienne Capoue. The Frenchman sent Deulofeu through and he finished neatly. Not content with his offing, Deulofeu then switched flanks, and burst through on goal again after 73 minutes. He looked on for a fourth, but instead side-footed into the path of Deeney, who deserved to be on the scoresheet. Cardiff pulled one back nine minutes from time after Bamba latched on to a loose ball during a frenzied goalmouth scramble, but there was little interrupting the scenes of adulation in the away end, and Deeney completed the rout after 90 minutes from a Will Hughes lay-off.
The final whistle went sparking wild celebrations in the away end. The players all came over to celebrate with the crowd and the songs and cheers went on for some time. Deulofeu secured the match ball, despite an attempt by Doucouré to steal it. As the others left him to it, he stood alone in front of the away fans while we told him he was magic. It was a lovely moment.
What started off a tetchy, nerve-wracking evening turned out to be one of the best games of the season. Watford were sublime in the second half and produced one of the finest counter-attacking displays I have ever seen. Deulofeu was a man possessed as he embarrassed the Cardiff back line with some superb finishes.
Queens Park Rangers had to wait for this moment. Their previous appearance in the FA Cup fifth round had come at Wimbledon in 1997 and it is doubtful whether any club has since endured a more dismal record in the competition. The London club had won only four ties – each of them in the third round – before this season.
A lot happened in both the lead up and aftermath of this game so I’ve tried to provide a bit of context which is shown below in bold.
Pre Match Articles
Post Match Articles
Pre Match Articles
Post Match Articles
After Troy Deeney had appeared to stoke the flames ahead of the encounter at a Watford fans’ forum, Gray made the most of the only moment of real quality in the game when he converted Will Hughes’ cut-back 20 minutes into the second period, scoring his fourth goal of the season.
Gray was a Silva signing early in the Portuguese’s short stay at Vicarage Road, which began in May 2017 and went sour in November that year when he was prevented from going to Goodison. Watford sacked him in January last year amid tapping-up suggestions as their form nosedived. The amiable Javi Gracia took over to restore stability – “he’s better than you” sang the home fans to Silva to emphasise a point backed up by the league table.
Pre Match Report
Post March Report
Before the match, the Watford captain, Troy Deeney, had distanced himself from comments he made at a fans forum this week where he promised to kick Everton’s players. Yet with passions running high in this part of Hertfordshire, as the chief executive, Scott Duxbury, said he would not engage with Silva in the opposition dugout, some supporters greeted their former manager with yellow inflatable snakes.
The Troy Deeney ‘comments’ mentioned above came from a Fan’s Forum which took place in London one evening in the week leading up to the Everton game.
Andy Lewers of the brilliant Hornet’s Nest blog and Love Sport Radio live tweeted what was said by those at the forum. Click on the tweet below to see the whole thread from the evening.
He later provided more details on what was said in a post on facebook.
The media then mis-quoted some of this which led to Silva’s motivation comments. This was how the Evening Standard reported the forum…
Troy addressed the mis-reporting of his comments on the morning of the game
Andy then talked about the controversy in his usual post match blog.
Now, you will no doubt be aware that some of Troy’s comments from the evening were picked up and published in the national media.
Many of you will have read my tweets quoted in the papers. My intention was purely to keep Watford fans who weren’t able to attend the evening up to date with what was going on.
Sadly, some of Troy’s comments were taken out of context. They were tongue-in-cheek, exactly what you’d expect from the Watford captain, there was no malice in anything that he said and you could tell he had genuine respect for Marco Silva and Everton.
I was perhaps naive in thinking that tweeting Troy’s comments wouldn’t have had consequences. Lesson learnt.
To be fair to Silva (not that I really want to be) he told 5 Live’s Vicki Sparks in his post match interview that he hadn’t really believed the reporting of Deeney’s comments and that Troy clarified them when they spoke before the game. (Apologies for the poor audio quality)
The atmosphere in the ground before kick-off was brittle. I must confess that I didn’t notice the widely-celebrated playlist, but there was no missing Emma Saunders’ pointed welcome to the visiting head coach over the tannoy.
As we walked along Vicarage Road away from the ground, we could see something going on by the Everton coaches. There was a crowd by the cemetery wall looking in and first reports were that there had been a stabbing, although that was proved wrong after the game. But two Watford fans were hospitalised, one with a nasty head injury. As someone who started to go to football matches in 1979, these scenes were seen on a weekly basis in those days but had become a rarity in recent times. I really hope that it remains that way.
The trouble mentioned was widely reported.
It was Brighton who were almost celebrating a winner 10 minutes from time. Gross’s inviting cross from the left was met by a flicked header from Locadia but Foster somehow leapt to turn it behind. He followed up that save by unconventionally keeping out Duffy’s acrobatic attempt with his feet and then smothered an effort from the onrushing Andone. Yves Bissouma was also narrowly off-target in the dying moments.
Much as you want to win, there’s always something thrilling about being in someone else’s ground when a game that’s in the balance suddenly tips and the noise starts echoing around the stands. Sets the adrenaline going, makes eventual victory all the more vivid. The noise at the Amex still seems to carry with it something of what this club nearly became, of building bonfires and Hereford and all of that. It’s still there, the knowledge that none of this might’ve existed. The pre-match build-up offers somewhat one-sidedly edited highlights of previous meetings, and the big screen malfunctions to obscure half of the picture, which seems a fitting reminder of the sightlines from both the away corner at the Goldstone and the temporary seating at Withdean. It’s thirty years since I was a student here; more than twenty since Fans United. This is a brilliant ground for a proud city. We should all count our blessings more often.
The most entertaining moment of the first half came on the half hour as Holebas battled with March on the wing and ended up giving away the first corner of the game. In typical Jose manner he then walked towards the goal to defend the set piece, looking furious as only he can. He was looking for someone or something to blame, and suddenly focussed on his gloves which were ripped from his hands and thrown behind the goal line. I realise that this loses a lot in translation, but it caused great amusement to the Holebas fans in our party.
Such is the media obsession with the ‘big six’ that the following four reports barely contain a mention of us.
Late goals from Heung-Min Son and Fernando Llorente rescued a tough week for Tottenham with a 2-1 comeback win over Watford. Watford took advantage of a Spurs side looking jaded after exiting both domestic cup competitions in the space of four days when Craig Cathcart bundled home from a corner (37).
As Javi Gracia said, his side “missed a very good chance to get points against a very good team” and while the visitors were second best in terms of possession and territory, they arguably deserved a draw given the togetherness they showed throughout. Instead they remain ninth having lost for the first time in 2019.
As he had done in the previous round, Watford boss Javi Gracia made 11 changes for the trip to St James’ Park but saw his understudies outplay Rafael Benitez’s reshuffled side, whose record of not having made it past the fourth round since 2006 remains painfully intact.
Watford at least had the wherewithal to find a couple of decent passes after the interval, which led to the decisive goals. From the first, delivered by the clever left foot of Will Hughes, Andre Gray rattled in a low shot just past the hour. From the second, supplied by the lively Domingos Quina, Isaac Success tapped in at the far post as the clock ticked on to 90 minutes.