FA Cup Reaction: Gracia, Deeney & Hughes
By Kevin Affleck
Javi Gracia was delighted with the attitude of his players as they saw off the spirited challenge of Woking in the FA Cup.
The Head Coach swapped his entire side for the third-round tie at the Laithwaite Stadium, but he got exactly the response he was after, with goals from Will Hughes and Troy Deeney garnishing a very workmanlike performance, just the type you need when you come to places like this.
“I think it was a good performance,” said Gracia. “We played with some players who have not been playing in the last games, but I was sure they were the best option for us, the best chance because we knew it will be demanding game, like it has been, and we are happy with the performance and the result as well.”
Gracia had spoken all week about the need to play with the same mentality the players had been in Premier League games, about not letting standards drop just because they were playing a team from the sixth tier.
“We came to respect them a lot and we've played well and respected them until the end,” he said. “I like the attitude of my players, players who are not playing in the last games. They show they are ready for the next game. We only have three players injured and some of them will come back quickly. I will have more options and it's good for the team and for the squad.”
Watford were always in the driving seat after Hughes whipped in the first-half opener, but the door was always ajar for Woking while the score was 1-0. Gracia sought to slam it shut by sending for Deeney and Ken Sema with just under 20 minutes remaining.
“I think we had the possession and had the control, but winning 1-0 there is always the chance they can score from a corner or a free-kick,” he said. “We have played well. I am delighted.”
The Hornets will now be in Monday night's draw – and Gracia is not viewing the cup as an unwelcome distraction. He's taking the competition seriously.
“The next game is another final,” he said. “If we lose, we don't play any more. We are ready to play five finals to get the cup.”
Deeney got to the semi-final with the club in 2016 and he was happy to come off the bench and play his part in launching another cup run.
“It's all about the mentality,” he said. “We've got to give them massive credit as they stayed in it until the end, but our professionalism showed over the course of the game. Hughes was fantastic and there was also Success and Peñaranda who did well for the team and set the tone. When I came on I just tried to add a bit more.”
Deeney's goal took his tally to six for the season, including three in his last two games.
“I like a little tap in,” he said. “I've worked on getting in the six-yard box a bit more as that is what I was known for in the Championship. I've got away from that in the Premier League, I tried to be more of a player. But I can let the other boys do that now. I've got three in two games and it will be nice to continue that run, but there is no point in getting carried away. You can go on a drought quickly enough so I'll enjoy this moment.”
Hughes' goal was the first he had rattled in since the cracker at Turf Moor in August.
“It was something we've been working on,” he said of the goal he whipped in from a corner. “Thankfully I found space and it went in. I was nice to get on the scoresheet and I'd like to do that more.
“We want to go far in the cup and we've given ourselves a platform now. Woking played really well and gave us a run for our money in the second half, but we came out on top.”