Saturday, March 10, 2007

Plymouth & Watford's FA Cup reunion

Plymouth & Watford's FA Cup reunion.
Plymouth and Watford square up on Sunday for a place in the last four of the FA Cup, 23 years after meeting in the semi finals.

In 1984, George Reilly's goal sent the Pilgrims back to the West Country before Watford lost 2-0 to Everton in the final, but this time around instead of neutral Villa Park, the contest is at Plymouth's Home Park.

The Pilgrims are 12th in the Championship and Watford second to last in the Premiership, which makes the contest too close to call for most bookies. The Hornets look doomed to relegation so are well aware the Cup could be the highlight of the season.

"We have a great opportunity," Watford's American centre-back Jay DeMerit told Soccerphile. "If we go to Plymouth and play like we did in the first half against Charlton we are in with a great chance for the semi-finals and we will definitely look to do that."

The Hornets' 2:2 draw last weekend moved them off the bottom of the Premiership but with relegation a distinct possibility, their extended FA Cup run has perhaps been the highlight of their season.

Before they can start dreaming of walking out at the new Wembley Stadium in May, Watford must make a Sunday evening trip 200 miles southwest to tackle a Plymouth team buoyed by home advantage and having avoided the big guns of Chelsea and Manchester United in the quarterfinal draw.

The Pilgrims are coached by the inimitable Ian Holloway, renowned for his bizarre and entertaining post-match wisdom. A book has even been published of his quotes called "Let's Have Coffee - the Tao of Ian Holloway."

Plymouth have a double incentive for victory as they have a bone to pick with Watford for dumping them out the Cup in 1984 at the semifinal stage, the furthest the Devon club has ever gone in the competition.

An interesting clash ensues, but DeMerit is determined the winners will be in yellow jerseys.

"We have prepared for them just like any other team," he said, "and we will be going for the win and hopefully another victory."

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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