Much of the pre-match talk had focused on how to deal with Troy Deeney, but it is fair to say that Woking centre-back Ben Gerring rather struggled to execute his game plan. “The best way for me to gain Troy’s respect is to put him in Row Z,” he had said with a smile.
Notwithstanding the fact that Woking’s Kingfield Stadium does not have a stand that extends further than Row V, the final outcome was emphatic. Deeney, who had come on as a 71st-minute substitute, scored with his first touch to seal Watford’s 2-0 win.
Gerring, a window-fitter by day, was down helpless on one knee inside the six-yard box as Deeney finished Ken Sema’s cross to ensure that the lowest-rated team to make the third round were eliminated.
A giant-killing averted, but humiliation still avoided. Indeed, Watford would have to go all the way until the final in May to accumulate as many happy memories from this year’s competition as a club 110 places below them in the football pyramid.
A goal in either half ultimately settled a routine Watford win, but this was an occasion when the wider context was everything. Woking, a club who released all but one of their players last season following relegation to the National League South, had come through five rounds to reach this stage and the £150,000 windfall from the presence of live television will cover around half of their player budget for another year. That is about equivalent to a week of Deeney’s services.
“Don’t let anyone tell you the FA Cup is dead,” said Woking manager Alan Dowson. “The money is great, but it’s about the people and seeing young kids getting the chance to watch Premier League players. We want to build a club.”
A new stadium is the ultimate priority, even if Dowson does have a more modest request for his chairman, Rosemary Johnson. “I’ll be able to get a new kettle for my office because at the moment I have to walk about 20 miles for a cup of tea,” he said.
Javi Gracia, Watford’s former Villarreal and Malaga manager, has certainly also never received a post-match gift from an opposing manager quite like it. A bumper bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale. “He took it and he gave me one of his sangria,” said Dowson, who was born in Gateshead. “I thought he was a bit tight. The Newcastle Brown was bigger.”
The day Premier League opposition were hosted in front of a sell-out crowd of 5,717 fans was always guaranteed to go down in Woking folklore, as perhaps will assistant referee Stephen Child’s slapstick visit to the club’s “Moaner’s Corner” after tumbling over an advertising hoarding. A poor start, culminating when an unmarked Will Hughes directed Adam Masina’s corner through a crowded penalty area, had been an ideal way to settle any Watford nerves. “C--- goal to concede,” was Dowson’s blunt verdict.
Woking did rally in the second half but, having earlier made 11 changes, Watford took advantage of Deeney’s presence on the bench and he settled the match just three minutes after coming on.
Woking assistant manager Martin Tyler – the Sky Sports commentator – spent most of the match watching intently from the side of the dugout although he did briefly provide some half-time analysis for the pitch-side radio reporters.
The match was especially significant for Tom Cleverley, who was starting a game for the first time in a year following achilles surgery and hit the crossbar with one effort. His performance against a club for whom his great uncle Reg Stratton was a legendary player will have encouraged Gracia.
“You don’t get the same fan interaction in the Premier League walking from the bus to the changing room but it’s nice,” said Cleverley. “All of us have come from working-class backgrounds and we knew what to expect.”
Gaining promotion back to the National League is now the overriding priority for Woking, with the team hoping to extend their winning streak to eight matches against Welling United on Wednesday.
Preparations will not be resuming until Monday morning. “I’ll get lashed tonight – working men’s club with darts and pool – and I’ll be back in tomorrow,” said Dowson.
Woking (4-2-3-1): Ross 6; Collier 6, Cook 6, Gerring 7, Casey 6; Taylor 6 (Little, 60), Jolley 7; Luer 6 (Bradbury, 70), Edser 6 (Hodges, 70), Loza 7; Hyde 6.
Subs not used: Hester-Cook, Wheeler, Spence.
Watford (4-5-1): Gomes 7; Janmaat 6, Wilmot 6, Britos 6, Masina 7; Hughes 6 (Navarro, 80), Cleverley 7, Quina 6, Chalobah 6, Penaranda 6 (Sema, 72); Success 5 (Deeney, 71).
Subs: Mariappa, Deulofeu, Dahlberg.
Referee: Graham Scott.
FA Cup third round results
Fulham 1-2 Oldham
Man City 7-0 Rotherham
Millwall 2-1 Hull
Preston 1-3 Doncaster
QPR 2-1 Leeds
Sheff Utd 0-1 Barnet
Woking 0-2 Watford
Full time at Deepdale
Preston 1-3 Doncaster
Full time at the New Den
Millwall 2-1 Hull City
Full time at the Etihad
Manchester City 7-0 Rotherham
7️⃣ goals, 7️⃣ different scorers. pic.twitter.com/CCQftC2XPt— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) January 6, 2019
Full time - upset at Bramall Lane
Sheffield United 0-1 Barnet
The National League side have beaten the Championship Blades.
Full time - shock at the Cottage
Fulham 1-2 Oldham Athletic
Full time at Loftus Road
QPR 2-1 Leeds United
Full time score
Woking 0-2 Watford
Two moments of class at the Den
He's done it again! �� pic.twitter.com/qpSFKwK2zw— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) January 6, 2019
GOAL! Preston 1-3 Doncaster (Wilks, 87 min)
87' The ball is launched forward and both Preston goalkeeper Crowe and defender Storey hesitate and Mallik Wilks is the man on the spot to keep his composure and slot in to the empty net. 1-3 #PREDON#DRFC— Doncaster Rovers FC (@drfc_official) January 6, 2019
GOAL!! Fulham 1-2 Oldham (Lang, 88 min)
Scenes at the Cottage.
GOAL!! Man City 7-0 Rotherham (Sane, 83 min)
Spurs did it against a League Two club - City against a Championship side:
Fulham miss a penalty - Fulham 1-1 Oldham
GOAL!! Milwall 2-1 Hull (Ferguson, 85)
He's turned it around in a three-minute burst.
GOAL!! Milwall 1-1 Hull (Ferguson, 82)
GOAL!! Man City 6-0 Rotherham (Otamendi, 78 min)
GOAL!! Preston 1-2 Doncaster (Anderson, 72 min)
72' Andrew swings the ball into the area, Butler heads on goal, the ball bounces around inside the six yard box, and former Burnley man Tom Anderson slices the ball into the back of the net. 1-2 #PREDON#DRFC— Doncaster Rovers FC (@drfc_official) January 6, 2019
GOAL!! Fulham 1-1 Oldham (Surridge, 77 pen)
GOAL!! Man City 5-0 Rotherham (Mahrez, 73)
GOAL!! QPR 2-1 Leeds (Bidwell, 76 min)
Heads in from a corner, winning the header at the penalty spot.
GOAL!! Woking 0-2 Watford (74 min)
Run down the left, pass squared through the six-yard box and the captain, on as a substitute, taps in from three yards.
It hasn't been a good day to be an assistant referee... ��♂️ pic.twitter.com/a8SzJGd52b— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) January 6, 2019
Fulham's goal and Odoi's celebration
⚽️ | Flipping good goal at Craven Cottage pic.twitter.com/5yA4E8HiVh— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) January 6, 2019
GOAL!! Preston 1-1 Doncaster (Hughes, 55 min)
GOAL!! Man City 4-0 Rotherham (Jesus, 52 min)
GOAL!! Fulham 1-0 Oldham (Odoi, 52 min)
GOAL!! Millwall 0-1 Hull (Toral, 53 min)
After the orange quarters
The second-half begins at the seven 2pm kick-offs.
Fulham 0-0 Oldham
Man City 3-0 Rotherham
Millwall 0-0 Hull
Preston 0-1 Doncaster
QPR 1-1 Leeds
Sheff Utd 0-1 Barnet
Woking 0-1 Watford
GOAL!! Man City 3-0 Rotherham (Ajayi og, 45min)
GOAL!! Man City 2-0 Rotherham (Foden, 43min)
It;s Foden's second goal for the first team after scoring his debut goal against Oxford in the League Cup.
Here's Sterling's goal for Man City
GOAL! QPR 1-1 Leeds (Halme, 25 min)
Finnish centre-back follows up a parried free-kick to score from five yards.
23' GGGGOOOAAAALLLL!!! Aapo Halme equalises for Leeds! Lewis Baker's strike is spilled by Matt Ingram and Halme couldn't miss with the rebound— Leeds United (@LUFC) January 6, 2019
1-1 | #LEEQPR
GOAL! QPR 1-0 (Oteh, pen 23min)
Bidwell was tripped in the area by Davis and Oteh sticks the penalty straight down the middle.
GOAL! Sheffield United 0-1 Barnet (Coulthirst, pen 21 min)
Barnet penalty at Bramall Lane
Mason-Clark has been brought down in the box.
GOAL!! Woking 0-1 Watford ( Hughes, 13 min)
GOAL!! Man City 1-0 Rotherham (Sterling, 12 min)
GOAL!! Preston 0-1 Doncaster (Marquis, 5 min)
At the Etihad - by Gabriel Jesus who hit the bar and Loftus Road - where Tyler Roberts crashed a 20-yard shot into the foot of the right post.
The teams are out
Grown men are huddling. Referees are raising Acme Thunderers to lips. We're ready.
Is at Woking vs Watford and I'll be scanning that, the airwaves, the social sewer and the dark web to let you know what's going on elsewhere. Mmm ... lovely blue pills.
Woking 1-11 vs Watford Numberlesswang
Woking Team:— Woking Football Club (@wokingfc) January 6, 2019
1 Craig Ross
2 Nathan Colier
3 Josh Casey (c)
4 Jack Cook
5 Ben Gerring
6 Christian Jolley
7 Toby Edser
8 Harry Taylor
9 Jake Hyde
10 Greg Luer
11 Jamar Loza
Blades vs Barnet
QPR side to take on Leeds
Darren Ferguson derby
Millwall vs Hull
TEAM NEWS: #Millwall boss Neil Harris makes two changes to his starting line-up as our #EmiratesFACup campaign gets underway against @HullCity at The Den. Alex Pearce makes his Lions debut as he comes in for @meredith_james, with @jiri_skalak replacing @shane_fergie. pic.twitter.com/tBrjrrTKHE— Millwall FC (@MillwallFC) January 6, 2019
�� Here's your Hull City line-up to take on @MillwallFC in the Third Round of the Emirates FA Cup this afternoon…— Hull City (@HullCity) January 6, 2019
* Eight changes to the Tigers’ starting XI.
* Six @HullCityAcademy products involved in today’s fixture.#hcafc | #theTigerspic.twitter.com/VT60Xvs3Y1
Pep Guardiola picks three of his Thursday starters
How we line-up in the #FACup! ⚽️— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 6, 2019
City XI | Ederson, Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Zinchenko, Gundogan, Foden, Mahrez, De Bruyne (C), Sterling, Jesus
Subs | Muric, Danilo, Laporte, Sane, Bernardo, Fernandinho, Sandler
Presented by @HaysWorldwide#cityvrufc �� #mancitypic.twitter.com/Qe5MymKy6w
TEAM v @ManCity | Rodak; Vyner, Ajayi, Robertson, Mattock; Forde, Vaulks, Wiles, Taylor; Williams, Smith.— Rotherham United (@OfficialRUFC) January 6, 2019
SUBS | Price, Wood, Raggett, Jones, Palmer, Newell. #rufc#EmiratesFACuppic.twitter.com/gdtNL8Tg2A
Fulham v Oldham
Leeds win the team news race
[Because Marcelo Bielsa named it on Friday]
For some of us it will always be Harvey, Reaney, Madeley, Bremner …; others will find Brown, Baker, Henry, Blanchflower, Norman, Mackay … tripping off the tongue like a mantra; Lawrence, Lawler, Byrne, Strong, Yeats, Stevenson … are reeled off by rote in one half of a city, West, Wright, Wilson, Gabriel, Labone, Harris in the other.
For all the shoddy treatment of this great competition from hubristic clubs with delusions of grandeur to match their insignificant achievements, people who should know better advocating regulations should be optional for certain clubs with myopic preoccupations and the FA’s failure to value its integrity in myriad ways, the Cup still matters to those who sustain the game in this country, the supporters.
So for one day let's not mither foppishly about the ‘burden’ of replays. It’s the third round of the FA Cup - the opportunity to put yourself on the road to immortality and before kick-off hope springs eternal for everyone. If it didn’t, what’s the point?
Any road - today's 2pm kick-offs, switched bafflingly and sadistically by the demands of the international broadcasters are:
Fulham vs Oldham
Man City vs Rotherham
Millwall vs Hull
Preston vs Doncaster
QPR vs Leeds
Sheff Utd vs Barnet
Woking vs Watford
Join us for team news as soon as they are announced.