At half-time Watford were cruising to victory but had this match gone on any longer they would surely have lost. A full-pelt comeback from Tranmere Rovers saw the League One strugglers overturn a three-goal deficit against Premier League opponents to secure a replay at Prenton Park. As Rovers manager Micky Mellon put it: “You can see the quality of these teams, but if you get the momentum it doesn’t matter how good they are, it’s difficult to get it back.”
To compound the hosts’ misery, their two most “senior” players on the day, Chalobah and Pereyra will miss next weekend’s crunch league clash at Bournemouth. Chalobah picked up an injury and was withdrawn at half-time. Petulant Pereyra earned a ridiculous and stupid red card for lashing out at Kieron Morris a minute from time.
Thought number one is to ponder why Watford away is such a big pull for the support of a side struggling at the foot of League One, big respect in any case. Thought number two is to ponder that most of those in the away end, even those over the age of 30, are probably completely oblivious of the significance afforded to what, to them, was probably a mundane away defeat here in 1999. My god. Thought number three is to wonder how many of our matchday squad weren’t even born in April 1999. Answer: eight. Eight! With Sarr and Callum Whelan babes in arms. Thought number four is to Stop Thinking.
We had been coasting at half time and Rovers had been poor. But the loss of Chalobah and then Quina changed the game and the whole of the second half seemed to be played with Watford on the back foot. I briefly thought that it looked like one of those games that Liverpool used to play in the 80s when they would play for a draw in the first leg of a league cup game before battering the opposition in the second leg. But those games were controlled 0-0 draws. This game was quite baffling. It has to be said that it was an opportunity for those who were on the fringes to show Pearson what they can do. Sadly, I don’t think that Success or Gray did anything that would convince him to include them against Bournemouth. However, Chalobah had another good outing, Dele-Bashiru looked excellent and João Pedro put in a decent showing. The fitness problems of the fringe players was a cause for concern and they may find themselves with some extra routines in training.