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Saturday, 20 February 2016

Watford 1:0 Leeds Utd FA Cup 5th Round 20th Feb 2016.

The car was buzzing as we headed bleary eyed south for the FA Cup clash with Watford's Hornets. The FA Cup still has a bit of magic left especially for those fans who remember football before Sky TV and it was certainly enough for the success starved Leeds fans to latch onto as an invading army of 4,100 headed for Hertfordshire. The Happy Chocker, Quiet One and daughter Sarah were on board as we ate up the miles trying to convince ours selves that our defence had the way with all to cope with Watford's star strikers Deeney and Ighalo. Eventually we came to the conclusion that we needed a bit more of the amber nectar for that scenario to become a reality!

After a morale boosting session in The Moon Over Water in Watford town centre we were ready for the kick off. Evans had chosen a 4:4:2 formation to try and blunt the Premier League team's better quality with Bamba returning to the defence in place of the injured Cooper and Botaka replacing the injured Carayol on the bench. Watford's new stand has certainly improved the appearance of the their ground but I am not sure giving their fans behind the goal giant flags to wave at kick off does anything for their fan credibility?

The game got under way with persistent rain teeming from the Hertfordshire sky. It took the Premier League team just two minutes to show just why they are going so well this season as Capoue hit a deep cross for the impressive Deeney to head inches wide. Leeds were slow to heed the warning and further slack marking allowed Britos, twice, and Capoue once win headers in the box in the first 15 minutes. Watford should have been ahead.........but they weren't! Watford continued to look dangerous as Leeds dug in and battled hard to keep the Hornets at bay. It wasn't until the half hour mark that Leeds had anything like a threat on the giant Watford goalie, Pantilimon, as first Antenucci released Dallas but his shot deflected wide before Doukara set Dallas up on the edge of the box only to see his scuffed his effort roll wide of the post. Leeds started to enjoy more of the possession as half time approached and it was the visitors who headed down the tunnel for their half time cuppa with their tails if not up slightly perky. HT 0:0.

The large away following were not too dissatisfied with the first period. Leeds had battled hard and rode their luck early on but were still very much in the cup tie. Would there be a sting in the tail in the 2nd half though? Things didn't look too clever as the ever dangerous Deeney nutmegged Bamba in the box but a heroic last ditch lunge from Wootton deflected the shot wide. Minutes later Wootton was on hand again with a last ditch block as the Hornets turned the screw. Then just when I thought Leeds had successfully repelled Watford's opening salvo's Leeds' worn out self destruct button was once again well and firmly pressed. Ben Watson hurled a long "Hail Mary" ball to the back post where Wootton managed to shin the ball into his own net whilst trying guide it away for a corner. FFS. 1.0 Watford and the flags were waving furiously behind the goal.

The goal took some of the resilience out of the Leeds team and they could easily have been 3 down in the next 5 minutes. Capoue had the ball in the net only for the ref to chalk it off for what seemed like a soft foul by Deeney in the build and then Abdi ran unchallenged at the Leeds defence before blasting over from 18 yards. Leeds had severe rope burns on their backs. Wootton was being booed by a section of the away support for his own goal which was a bit harsh given he'd saved two goal bound shots before his aberration. It's not his fault the manager picks a centre half at full back!

Mowatt replaced Dallas on the hour as Evans tried to kick start a Leeds fight back but Watford were strolling even though they were just the single goal in front. If only we could snatch a goal or for that matter have a shot on goal. On 65 minutes my prayers were answered as Bridcutt fired a shot on goal that Pantilimon saved routinely. The atmosphere in the away support started to fester with discontent as Leeds struggled to make any impression on the Watford defence. Erwin replaced Antenucci and then Botaka came on for Diagouraga as Leeds belatedly put pressure on the home side defence. 5 minutes of added time gave Leeds some hope of snatching a dramatic equaliser. Doukara hadn't read the script though as he blasted a shot high and wide from 7 yards which had the Leeds fans in that all too familiar position of head in hands screaming blue murder. Leeds had one last chance as Erwin tested Pantilimon from 6 yards but he was offside anyway. The game finished 1.0 to Watford.

The Hornets were the better team by a distance but Leeds did battle hard and while ever the score remained at 1 nil they had a chance but that recurring problem of lack of an attacking threat shone through in the final statistics for Leeds, 6 shots with just the Bridcutt one on target. Troy Deeney showed a nice touch at the end as he applauded the away fans as well as his own. Wootton showed some bottle and came to the away fans to apologise for his own goal.

It's always a long way home when we lose and this was no exception. Another Wembley dream shattered. We should be used to it by now as by my counting it's 43 years since we last graced Wembley in an FA Cup Final. Still we can now concentrate on cementing 16th place in the League...................

Fulham at home on Tuesday. Please can we have a few more shots on goal and preferably not ours?

Can't wait.


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