The FA Cup - Third Round
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Watford 3-3 Tranmere Rovers, FA Cup third round: Nigel Pearson says cup is 'not a priority'

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League One Tranmere come back from 3-0 down at Watford to earn replay

Nigel Pearson said the FA Cup is "not a priority" as a much-changed Watford threw away a three-goal lead against Tranmere in Saturday's third-round tie.

The Hornets were bottom of the Premier League when Pearson took charge in early December, but have improved on their position after a good run.

"The league is our priority and I make no apologies," he said, having made nine changes ahead of the 3-3 draw.

"It was never my intention to do anything other than protect the squad."

Goals from Tom Dele-Bashiru, Nathaniel Chalobah and Roberto Pereyra had given the Hornets a comfortable first-half lead.

Connor Jennings headed home to reduce the deficit before Manny Monthe's shot set up a thrilling finish. Tranmere substitute Paul Mullin made it 3-3 from the spot after Corey Blackett-Taylor was brought down by Mason Barrett.

Watford played the last few minutes of the match with 10 men after Pereyra was shown a straight red card by referee Graham Scott for his foul on Kieron Morris.

Pearson added: "I can't sit here and try to give you a feeling that everything is equal in terms of how we look at competitions. Unfortunately for us, the FA Cup is not the priority.

"If we were in a more comfortable situation and had more players available it would be different, but we don't because we have a lengthy injury list."

Tranmere halt Watford revival

Tom Dele-Bashiru
Tom Dele-Bashiru, 20, left Manchester City in the summer and signed for Watford

This was an unwelcome jolt for Pearson, who had guided his side to three wins in the past four matches after taking over in early December.

It seemed as if his gamble in making wholesale changes to his XI had paid off when two superb strikes from Dele-Bashiru and Chalobah, followed by Pereyra's side-foot finish, earned his side a three-goal lead going into the break.

They dominated while Micky Mellon's Tranmere, 21st in League One, had failed to test Daniel Bachmann's goal once during that period. But the Hornets eased off in the second half and that allowed their opponents back into the game.

Jennings set them on their way when he nodded in, before defender Monthe swept home after an awful handling error by Watford's Austrian keeper, who was making his debut three years after joining the club.

With three minutes of the match remaining Blackett-Taylor raced into the Watford area down the left but was brought down by Barrett. After a video assistant referee review, Scott pointed to the spot.

Former Everton and Liverpool youth player Mullin showed no signs of nerves as he blasted his spot-kick past the reach of Bachmann.

'I am sure we will fill Prenton Park' - reaction

Tranmere manager Micky Mellon: "The players went out in the second half and delivered a fantastic performance."

On the VAR decisions that favoured his team: "My view on VAR is that people need to start defending better. If you defend well then there's no need for VAR, but if you start diving in and not defending well at set-pieces then VAR will catch you."

On Mullin's penalty: "He's a confident lad. He's come on that stage and scores a penalty that is so important."

On the replay: "We're massive underdogs but I am sure we will fill Prenton Park."

Line-ups

Watford

  • 35Bachmann
  • 6Mariappa
  • 4Dawson
  • 51Spencer-AdamsSubstituted forBarrettat 77'minutes
  • 11Masina
  • 20QuinaSubstituted forWhelanat 61'minutes
  • 14ChalobahSubstituted forJoão Pedroat 45'minutes
  • 24Dele-Bashiru
  • 22Success
  • 18Gray
  • 37PereyraBooked at 89mins

Substitutes

  • 17João Pedro
  • 23Sarr
  • 40Dalby
  • 41Barrett
  • 42Whelan
  • 44Hungbo
  • 47Parkes

Tranmere

  • 31Chapman
  • 14Caprice
  • 24Clarke
  • 6MontheBooked at 90mins
  • 4NelsonSubstituted forWoodsat 45'minutes
  • 7Morris
  • 35Danns
  • 11JenningsBooked at 70mins
  • 17Perkins
  • 10FerrierSubstituted forMullinat 81'minutes
  • 45PayneSubstituted forBlackett-Taylorat 45'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Woods
  • 5Ray
  • 9Mullin
  • 20Gilmour
  • 23Blackett-Taylor
  • 25Pilling
  • 29Walker-Rice
Referee:
Graham Scott
Attendance:
14,373

Match Stats

Home TeamWatfordAway TeamTranmere
Possession
Home56%
Away44%
Shots
Home9
Away12
Shots on Target
Home3
Away7
Corners
Home4
Away5
Fouls
Home13
Away11

Live Text

Match ends, Watford 3, Tranmere Rovers 3.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Watford 3, Tranmere Rovers 3.

Attempt missed. Adam Masina (Watford) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left following a set piece situation.

Booking

Emmanuel Monthe (Tranmere Rovers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Isaac Success (Watford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Emmanuel Monthe (Tranmere Rovers).

Foul by David Perkins (Tranmere Rovers).

Isaac Success (Watford) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Attempt missed. Peter Clarke (Tranmere Rovers) header from the centre of the box misses to the left.

Dismissal

Roberto Pereyra (Watford) is shown the red card.

Kieron Morris (Tranmere Rovers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Roberto Pereyra (Watford).

Goal!

Goal! Watford 3, Tranmere Rovers 3. Paul Mullin (Tranmere Rovers) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the centre of the goal.

Penalty Tranmere Rovers. Corey Taylor draws a foul in the penalty area.

Penalty conceded by Mason Barrett (Watford) after a foul in the penalty area.

Connor Jennings (Tranmere Rovers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Callum Whelan (Watford).

Foul by Neil Danns (Tranmere Rovers).

João Pedro (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Paul Mullin (Tranmere Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Craig Dawson (Watford).

Substitution

Substitution, Tranmere Rovers. Paul Mullin replaces Morgan Ferrier.

Foul by Peter Clarke (Tranmere Rovers).

Isaac Success (Watford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Peter Clarke (Tranmere Rovers) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

Goal!

Goal! Watford 3, Tranmere Rovers 2. Emmanuel Monthe (Tranmere Rovers) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner following a set piece situation.

Foul by Mason Barrett (Watford).

Morgan Ferrier (Tranmere Rovers) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Substitution

Substitution, Watford. Mason Barrett replaces Bayli Spencer-Adams because of an injury.

Booking

Connor Jennings (Tranmere Rovers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

João Pedro (Watford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Connor Jennings (Tranmere Rovers).

Corner, Tranmere Rovers. Conceded by Daniel Bachmann.

Attempt saved. Connor Jennings (Tranmere Rovers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

Foul by João Pedro (Watford).

Kieron Morris (Tranmere Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Goal!

Goal! Watford 3, Tranmere Rovers 1. Connor Jennings (Tranmere Rovers) header from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Corey Taylor following a corner.

Corner, Tranmere Rovers. Conceded by Adrian Mariappa.

Substitution

Substitution, Watford. Callum Whelan replaces Domingos Quina because of an injury.

Attempt saved. Kieron Morris (Tranmere Rovers) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

goal

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