Troy Deeney scored his seventh goal of the season to help Watford to a 1-0 win over Newcastle United in Saturday’s FA Cup third-round clash at Vicarage Road.
Deeney made the most of a poor pass from Georginio Wijnaldum shortly before the interval and a comeback rarely looked likely, leaving Newcastle to contemplate a fourth successive exit at this stage.
Newcastle fans have often lamented a perceived lack of ambition in cup competitions and their ire was again evident, with Ayoze Perez and Aleksandar Mitrovic proving wasteful when chances did come the visitors’ way.
Premier League survival now becomes Steve McClaren’s sole focus, with his counterpart Quique Sanchez Flores perhaps plotting a morale-boosting Cup run to supplement Watford’s excellent return to the top flight.
Newcastlewere not without early ambition and defender Daryl Janmaat tried his luck early on with a shot from the centre of the box, yet his attempt went straight at Watford goalkeeper Gomes.
The home side quickly threatened at the other end and Adlene Guedioura set up Jose Manuel Jurado, who cut inside before curling in a dangerous shot, only for Rob Elliot to deny the creative midfielder.
Perez should have opened the scoring for Newcastle in the 27th minute after a superb run from Moussa Sissoko, but the Spanish attacker steered wide with the goal at his mercy, before Aleksandar Mitrovic headed his strike partner’s corner off target.
Ben Watson’s free-kick almost evaded everyone on its way in as half-time approached, but Elliot did well to push his attempt wide at the far post.
However, Flores’ men snatched the lead just a minute before the interval. Deeney pounced on a poor pass from Wijnaldum, rounding Elliot before making it 1-0 for the hosts.
Perez continued to cause the Watford defence problems after the break and he went close to levelling the scoring with a fine shot from outside the area that flew just wide.
Mitrovic came incredibly close to netting the equaliser at the hour mark after Sissoko’s sublime pass, but the former Anderlecht man came inches from connect with it.
McClaren’s men kept on pushing for the leveller and Sissoko looked set to restore parity in the 71st minute, only to square the ball wide for the offside Florian Thauvin rather than go for goal himself.
Newcastle kept the pressure on Watford’s resolute back line and Thauvin hit the side netting in stoppage time, but it proved the final chance as the visitors were left to face a frustrated travelling support upon the final whistle.