Job done. A third successive 1-0 FA Cup win, secured this time by an own goal from Scott Wootton, has put Watford to within one win of a day out at Wembley. The players will not be getting their cup final suits measured up just yet but there will be teams who won’t fancy drawing Watford in Sunday’s draw at 6pm.
These two sides had never met in the FA Cup before this afternoon and after today’s lacklustre affair it’s probably best if they stay out of each other’s way from now on. Much like they did against Nottingham Forest and Newcastle United, Watford chiselled out the win and they’ll start getting the tag of ‘Boring, boring Watford’ if they carry on like the old Arsenal used to. The Hornets won’t care one iota. They are in the quarter-final for the first time in nine years.
The Hornets weren’t at their best but, in truth, there was only ever one team in this contest as Watford stretched their unbeaten run against Leeds to five games.
There was 27 league positions separating these two sides coming into this game and, despite making six changes to the team that beat Crystal Palace last weekend, the class divide between both teams was evident early on. Only some careless Watford finishing made this look one closer than it was and raised the prospect of a dreaded replay.
Troy Deeney and Miguel Britos, from two pinpoint Ben Watson corners, both spurned excellent opportunities to put Watford out of sight within the first 15 minutes. Steve Evans will be thanking his lucky stars that his pal Deeney couldn’t punish his team so early in the contest. Britos was a menace from corners and it looked like only a matter of time before the goal was coming.
Goals from midfield have been at a premium this season and when Etienne Capoue, Almen Abdi and Mario Suarez all mis-hit golden opportunities from inside the penalty area to give Watford the lead you could see why.
At the other end, Stuart Dallas fired a warning shot just wide of Costel Pantilimon’s goal to let Watford know that the visitors were still very much a part of this cup tie.
Watford were in need of some classic FA Cup magic in the second half if they were to avoid an unwanted trip to Elland Road, but, instead, it was a huge slice of luck that put the Hornets in the last eight. Ben Watson whipped in a delicious cross which avoided everyone but Wootton at the back post and the full-back produced a true striker’s finish into the bottom corner. Unfortunately, for the massive travelling Leeds contingent, it was in the wrong goal.
Watford went up a gear after the goal and could’ve had another minutes later. The Leeds defence parted like the red sea when Abdi darted into the box but the midfielder wildly lashed his effort over the bar. The Hornets had the ball in the back of the net soon after, however, a foul by Deeney denied Capoue his long-awaited first Watford goal.
Leeds made a desperate late effort to attempt to claw themselves back into the tie but they huffed and puffed, much like their manger who needed referee Michael Oliver to calm him down after one rant.
Capoue had another chance to open his Watford account late on but his poor effort flew over the bar after a fluid Hornets move. But one goal was all that was needed to leave hopes of a first cup final appearance since 1984 very much alive.
Watford: Pantilimon, Paredes, Britos, Cathcart, Holebas, Suarez, Watson, Capoue (Anya 90), Abdi (Guedioura 76), Deeney, Amrabat (Ighalo 67). Subs not used: Gomes, Nyom, Prodl, Behrami
Leeds: Silvestri, Wootton, Bamba, Bellusci, Cook, Taylor, Doukara, Bridcutt, Diagouraga (Botaka 85), Dallas (Mowatt 60), Antenucci (Erwin 81). Subs not used: Peacock, Murphy, Adeyemi, Coyle.