The Hornets claim a narrow Fifth Round victory at Vicarage Road...
WATFORD 1 (Wootton og 54), UNITED 0
Watford team: Pantilimon, Paredes, Britos, Cathcart, Holebas, Capoue (Anya 90), Suárez, Watson, Abdi (Guedioura 77), Deeney, Amrabat (Ighalo 67). Subs: Gomes, Nyom, Prodl, Behrami.
United team: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Bamba, Taylor, Bridcutt, Cook, Diagouraga (Botaka 85), Dallas (Mowatt 61), Doukara, Antenucci (Erwin 82). Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Adeyemi, Murphy.
Referee: Michael Oliver
Booked: Paredes, Cathcart (Watford), Bellusci, Bridcutt (United)
Att: 18,336 (4,065 United)
The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round tie away to Watford saw United head coach Steve Evans make just the one change from the goalless draw with Middlesbrough earlier in the week as captain Sol Bamba returned to the defence in place of the injured Liam Cooper. On-loan winger Mustapha Carayol also missed out through injury, meaning there was a place among the substitutes for Jordan Botaka.
The hosts, who entered the game occupying ninth place in the Premier League after an impressive return to the top-flight, took just two minutes to have the game’s first sight of goal, striker Troy Deeney seeing his powerful back-post header deflected wide from Juan Carlos Paredes’ right-wing cross.
Miguel Britos then twice headed wide after meeting two corners inside the United penalty area as the Hornets enjoyed the better of the openings during the early exchanges.
The United defence continued to defend deep, watching Jose Holebas’ powerful first-time effort fizz beyond the far post via a deflection, before Evans’ side started to apply some pressure of their own.
Mirco Antenucci led the charge, driving United forward on a quick counter-attack and finding Stuart Dallas inside the Watford area, but the Northern Ireland winger was unable to generate the power needed to test Costel Pantilimon with his curling effort.
Dallas then dragged wide from the edge of the box moments later after some clever exchanges with Souleymane Doukara as United grew into the tie.
At the opposite end, Marco Silvestri needed to be alert to block Paredes’ low cross at the near post, but United remained a threat on the break and their most likely outlet, Dallas, came close again on the stroke of half-time after seeing his low strike deflected behind after cutting inside of his marker.
The two teams re-emerged unchanged from the break and the hosts managed to break the deadlock within just nine minutes of the restart through Scott Wootton’s own goal, with the defender inadvertently turning Ben Watson’s back-post cross into his own net.
And the Hornets thought their lead had been doubled four minutes later, Etienne Capoue turning home a low cross at the back post, but not before referee Michael Oliver had spotted a push from Troy Deeney on Leeds full-back Charlie Taylor.
That chance came moments after Alben Abdi had strode forward unchallenged before blazing over the bar from the edge of the area as the home crowd urged their side forward in search of a quick-fire second.
Evans was prompted into his first change of the afternoon on the hour mark, though, replacing Dallas with Alex Mowatt in midfield, shortly before Pantilimon managed to gather a long-range effort from Liam Bridcutt.
As the game entered the closing stages, both Holebas and Capoue threatened to put the tie beyond United’s reach, the latter smashing his effort over the crossbar after space had opened for up him on the edge of the box.
But United, who had introduced Lee Erwin and Jordan Botaka in a bid to find an equaliser, could well have pulled themselves level with one minute remaining on the clock as Wootton found Doukara in space 15 yards out, but the forward struck well over Pantilimon’s crossbar as the hosts saw out their lead to seal progression to the quarter-finals.