since 1878

Watford (0) 1 - 0 (0) Ipswich Town

FA Cup 5th Round 2006-07

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Referee: SG Bennett

Manager: Adrian Boothroyd

Vicarage Road 15:00

Attendance: 17,016

Manager: Jim Magilton

Match Number: 3195


 Francis (88)


CavalliBouazza (66)
KabbaPriskin (89)


 Dan Harding (42)
 George OCallaghan (45)





















Match Report

Francis provides cruel late twist to deny Ipswich

Aidy Boothroyd attributes Watford's run of improved form - three wins in the previous five Premiership and FA Cup matches - to the more relaxed approach he has attempted to foster in a team short of confidence and conviction.

But there was nothing relaxed about this victory, which took his team into the quarter-finals courtesy of an 88th-minute goal from Damien Francis. It was decidedly edgy and owed much to the dismissal of Ipswich midfielder George O'Callaghan on the stroke of half time.

The visitors, organised and competitive, thoroughly deserved a replay. They twice hit the bar and never shirked the task, even when down to 10 men. To have a result wrenched away from them by a former player with bitter rivals Norwich added to the sense of disappointment.

Boothroyd admitted as much. 'I feel for them and their fans,' he said. 'They were the better team for 85 minutes. We know what it's like because it has happened to us in the Premiership. But we took our chance and are in the next round. That's the way it is.'

Jim Magilton, the Ipswich manager, said: 'I'm immensely proud of each and every one. We rose to the occasion and didn't deserve to lose. We had 4,500 fans here and they will be feeling the same way. But we have to take it on the chin and try to produce that type of performance in our league games.'

The two managers also united to play down rumblings that all was not sweetness and light between them after the game. 'I tried to shake Jim's hand, but he wasn't having it,' said Boothroyd. 'I'll still be having a drink with him, though.'

Magilton insisted nothing went on - and also denied approaching Watford defender Danny Shittu, who was involved in O'Callaghan's dismissal, at half time. 'Handbags at five paces,' he declared. Boothroyd added: 'It's a small, noisy corridor with lots of people in it. That's all that happened.'

All the worthwhile efforts in the first half came from the Championship side, who were desperately unlucky not to go ahead when Sylvain Legwinski struck a meaty 25-yarder against the bar.

Two minutes later Dan Harding's surging run and pass opened the way for the energetic Danny Haynes to fire into the side-netting. Then Jaime Peters was a foot too high with his effort from the edge of the penalty area.

It was all going well for Ipswich until O'Callaghan reacted to a challenge by Shittu and was shown a red card by Steve Bennett. 'If he kicked out, he will be dealt with internally,' said Magilton. 'It looked a harsh decision.'

Ipswich players protested as the teams went off, but to their immense credit they put the incident behind them and continued to go all out for a victory.

Matt Richards saved them when he cleared Darius Henderson's header off the line, but they responded with Chris Casement hitting the bar and Haynes putting away the rebound, only for his celebrations to be cut short by an offside decision. 'Definitely a goal,' claimed Magilton. 'The linesman was dozing.'

Substitute Billy Clarke also brought a diving save from Richard Lee. But after Francis put a chance wide, Watford's increasing pressure finally paid dividends when Francis sent Tommy Smith away and sprinted into the penalty area. Henderson dummied on Smith's cross, leaving the unmarked Francis with the simple task of placing his shot wide of goalkeeper Lewis Price.

Ipswich had neither the time nor the energy to respond, which was not surprising in view of the effort they had poured into a tie that started slowly, but developed into an absorbing contest.

Stuart Barnes (The Guardian)

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2006-07 Reports