First Team 26/01/2019

FA Cup Report: Newcastle United 0-2 Watford

By Kevin Affleck

“We’re the famous Watford FC and we're going to Wembley,” chorused those unwavering loyal fans who made the long trek up to Newcastle for this fourth-round tie.

With his one game at a time mentality, Javi Gracia won't be dreaming of playing under the famous arch just yet, but this Watford side ensured they will be one of 16 teams still in the hunt of lifting the famous old trophy with the sort of win away from home you always need in a cup run. Remember the 1-0 win we got away at Nottingham Forest in the run to the semi-final in 2016?

The previous two instalments of this fixture this season suggested this was never going to be one for the ages and it so proved. Watford never played well by any stretch of the imagination, although they did get better as the game worse on, but they did just enough and won it with a fine goal from Andre Gray just past the hour mark and then the clincher from Isaac Success late on.

Gracia will not give two hoots really about the imperfect nature of this one. He got the opportunity to give some minutes to some of the fringe players of his squad, managed to give some kingpins the afternoon off and yet managed to ease through to the next round with plenty to spare. Job done, boxes ticked, let's all settle down for the draw on Monday night.

Watford made most of the running in what was, if we are honest, rather pedestrian fare served up in the first half. The two sides played like exactly what they were: two XIs put together this week who were very much looking to find some cohesion and combination play on the hoof. They only managed four shots on goal between them, one of which fell into the on-target category. And that came from Domingos Quina after five minutes.

The Newcastle defenders clearly hadn't been briefed about his penchant for shooting from long-range, not been made away of his his beauties against Reading and Cardiff, because they stood off him and allowed him to unleash one that dipped, swerved and forced Freddie Woodman into acrobatic action.

And that really was about it. There was a free-kick that went close from Nathaniel Chalobah after a driving run from Daryl Janmaat and then Isaac Success shinned one wide after a cross from Janmaat. The pickings were extremely slim.

The good thing was that Newcastle barely threatened and the biggest cheer from the home fans was when Adam Masina unceremoniously launched a clearance against the roof of the stand. There was a nice tackle from the excellent Miguel Britos to stop Jacob Murphy getting a cross in from the right, but it said much about the first half that it ended up being among the talking points.

Gray was peripheral in the first half, very much finding his feet after an injury layoff but he got into his stride at the start of the second half and fired off a shot on the run. It was off target, but the connection was sweet and hinted at brighter things to come.

Not long after, on 61 minutes, Gray was dead-eyed with the sort of chance he thrives on. Will Hughes played him down the inside right with a lovely reverse pass and Gray raced onto it and lashed it first time, low past Freddie Woodman. The Newcastle 'keeper was simply beaten by the pace and quick-fire nature of it. It was classic Gray.

The Hornets never really looked liked doing anything other than progressing safely into the next round thereafter. Rafa Benítez threw on Ayoze Pérez and Christian Atsu in a bid to liven his side up, but the only time they really threatened was when Ben Wilmot had to clear one off the line from Javier Manquillo, after Gomes had been chipped by the wing-back.

Gracia had no thought about shoring things up and holding on, opting instead to sling on Adalberto Peñaranda for his first taste of action against a Premier League club. And the Venezuelan finished the match with his first contribution to a goal in a Watford shirt. He got hold of a counter-attack, played in Quina down the left and watched the midfielder lay the ball on a plate for Success to bundle in. 

The Watford bench erupted as they knew that was it. Gracia punched the air and someone slammed their hand on the roof of the dugout. There was no way back for Newcastle from there and there would be no dreaded replay. Everyone connected with Watford left feeling a lot happier than they did the last time we were up here. 

HORNETS | Gomes (GK); Janmaat, Cathcart, Britos, Masina; Wilmot, Chalobah (Capoue 81), Quina; Hughes, Success, Gray (Peñaranda 68).

Subs not used | Dahlberg (GK), Mariappa, Deulofeu, Deeney, Navarro.

First Team 25/01/2019

FA Cup: Fourth Round Memories

Ahead of Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup trip to Newcastle United, take a look back at some of Watford’s previous fourth round successes. 

Nottingham Forest 0-1 Watford (Sat Jan 30, 2016)

The Hornets have had some cracking FA Cup runs over the years, most recently in 2016, when they reached the semi-finals before being knocked out by Crystal Palace at Wembley.

That year, under the rule of Quique Sanchez Flores, Watford came away 1-0 winners in a hard-fought fourth round tie at Nottingham Forest, courtesy of an 89th-minute Odion Ighalo clincher.

The Nigerian striker had been subbed on in the 72nd minute before notching the late winner for his side, preventing the tie from going to a replay. 

Line-up v Forest: Pantilimon; Nyom, Prödl, Cathcart, Aké; Anya (Jurado 72), Watson, Guédioura, Abdi; Deeney (Ighalo 72), Amrabat (Paredes 86).

Watford 4-3 Crystal Palace (Sat Jan 24, 2009)

Back in 2009, Watford and Crystal Palace played out a seven-goal fourth round thriller at The Vic.

Jay DeMerit and Jack Cork gave Watford a 2-0 lead before being pegged back by a Clint Hill goal for Palace.

Strikes from Will Hoskins and Grzegorz Rasiak put the Hornets in a commanding position at 4-1, but they almost threw it away when Neil Danns and Paul Ifill struck late for Palace.

However, the Hornets were ultimately the victors, booking their place in the fifth round of the cup. 

Line-up v Palace: Loach; Hoyte (Kiernan 90), DeMerit, Mariappa, Doyley; McAnuff, Cork, Jenkins, Harley; Rasiak (O'Toole 77), Hoskins (Bridcutt 86).

West Ham 0-1 Watford (Sat Jan 27, 2007)

Watford recorded another memorable FA Cup fourth round victory in 2007, this time at West Ham’s Upton Park.

Anthony McNamee broke the deadlock with a 42nd-minute overhead kick. The Hornets then had to survive a second half onslaught from the Hammers in order to proceed to the draw for the fifth round.

The game could have ended very differently however, had Bobby Zamora’s header after only a minute not rebounded off the bar.

Watford enjoyed some welcome respite from a challenging Premier League campaign, going on to reach the semi-finals, which they lost to Manchester United at Villa Park.

Line-up v West Ham: Foster; Mariappa, Mackay, DeMerit, Stewart; McNamee (Powell 72), Bangura, Francis, Bouazza; Smith, Henderson.

Watford 1-0 Chelsea (Sun Feb 1, 1987)

John Barnes was part of the side which saw off Chelsea in 1987

Another of the Hornets’ famous fourth round wins came in 1987 against Chelsea, courtesy of a Luther Blissett goal on his 29th birthday in front of 18,832 at Vicarage Road. 

The visitors included the likes of Micky Hazard, Pat Nevin and Gordon Durie – as well as future Hornet Keith Dublin – in their side that day, but were unable to progress.

Having already seen off Maidstone United 3-1 in the third round, Graham Taylor’s men then defeated Walsall – at the third attempt – and Arsenal before a 4-1 semi-final defeat to Tottenham.

Line-up v Chelsea: Coton; Bardsley, McClelland, Sims, Rostron; Barnes, Jackett, Richardson, Callaghan; Blissett (Allen), Falco.

Charlton 0-2 Watford (Sat Jan 28, 1984)

We all know that Watford contested their one and only FA Cup final against Everton in 1984, but there were also some notable victories along the road to Wembley.

Having defeated rivals Luton Town after a third round replay, the Hornets were drawn away to Charlton Athletic at the next stage.

Mo Johnston and George Reilly were the scorers in a 2-0 win over an Addicks side playing a division below Watford at the time.

Brighton, Birmingham and Plymouth were then dispatched before the Hornets were left heartbroken by a 2-0 loss to the Toffees in the Wembley showdown. 

Line-up v Charlton: Sherwood; Bardsley, Franklin, Sims, Rostron; Barnes, Jackett, Taylor, Callaghan; Johnston, Reilly.