On Saturday I watched some FA Cup magic at Vicarage Road as I seen League One side Tranmere Rovers come from three-nil down to earn a replay against Watford.
At half-time Watford were cruising to victory and everyone was thinking about how many it could be, but if the game had gone on any longer the Hornets would have probably lost as a second-half comeback from Micky Mellon’s side saw them remarkably salvage a draw.
Watford made nine changes from their Boxing Day draw against Norwich with Daniel Bachmann, Bayli-Spencer Adams and Tom Dele-Bashiru all making their starting debuts while João Pedro and Callum Whelan came off the bench.
However, it was a still a strong side put out by Nigel Pearson, with the likes of Andre Gray, Craig Dawson, Issac Success Adrian Mariappa and Nathaniel Chalobah all starting.
The hosts started well and you sensed it was going to be a comfortable afternoon for the Hornets. They opened the scoring on the 12th minute when Dele-Bashiru marked his first start with a goal as his effort from outside the box took a slight deflection off Connor Jennings and beat Aaron Chapman.
Watford doubled their lead two minutes later when Chalobah capitalised on some horrific defending. Peter Clarke played a very dodgy pass across his own box and his team mate Manny Monthe done his best to clear it, but it ended up at the feet of Chalobah, who pinged an effort into the left-hand corner.
The third came just after the half hour mark when Success burst forward through the middle of the park, before sending Andre Gray through one-on-one.
After failing to sort his feet out, he lost the shooting opportunity, but thankfully Roberto Pereyra was on hand to gobble up the second attempt as he beautifully curled it beyond Chapman.
Bachmann was called into action for the first time when a wicked shot from Jennings was easily gathered down to his left.
Unsurprisingly, Micky Mellon changed the team at half-time. Winger Corey Taylor-Blackett came on in place of Stefan Payne while Callum Woods came on for Sid Nelson.
Pearson was also forced into a change as Chalobah came off injured, so João Pedro came on for his debut after signing just three days ago from Brazilian side Fluminense.
The top-flight side were far from the same team that was on show in the first half and Tranmere were beginning to get chances and built in confidence despite being 3-0 down.
The unlikely comeback started on the 64th minute when Watford failed to deal with a corner and allowed Blackett-Taylor a second attempt at a cross, which was headed home by Jennings at the front-post.
The goal was disallowed for offside, but following chants of “VAR, VAR” by the away fans, the goal was checked and the original decision was overturned, giving Tranmere a glimmer of hope.
The League One side made things very interesting as they pounced on an error by Bachmann to reduce the deficit to just one.
On the 78th minute, a cross looked relatively easy for the Watford keeper, but he completely missed it and the ball fell to Morgan Ferrier, who played it to Monthe and he slammed home from close-range.
From looking in complete control, Watford had now completely collapsed. Tranmere knew it and they were encouraged on by the 2,700 travelling fans, who were in fine voice all afternoon.
Three minutes from full time, Blackett-Taylor raced Mason Barnett to the byline and a corner was awarded, until referee Graham Scott had a word in his ear.
After a lengthy check, VAR awarded Tranmere a penalty. The ball was handed to substitute Paul Mullin and he calmly fired his effort straight down the middle to level the match.
The match wasn’t finished there though as Pereyra was sent off for a late challenge, before one final ball into the Watford box was just about cleared.
Full Time- Watford 3-3 Tranmere Rovers
Watford FC XI
Bachmann, Mariappa, Dawson, Spencer-Adams(77), Masina, Quina(61), Chalobah(46), Dele-Bashiru, Success, Pereyra, Gray
Subs- Parkes, Barrett(77), Dalby, Hungbo, Whelan(61), Pedro(46), Sarr
Tranmere Rovers XI
Chapman, Caprice, Clarke, Monthe, Nelson(46), Morris, Perkins, Jennings, Danns, Payne(46), Ferrier(81)
Subs- Pilling, Ray, Gilmour, Woods(46), Blackett-Taylor(46), Walker-Rice, Mullin(81)
Referee- Graham Scott
Assistants- Neil Davies & Lee Venamore
Fourth Official- Will Finnie
VAR- Andrew Madley
Attendance- 14,373( 2,962 Tranmere)
Goals- Dele-Bashiru(12), Chalobah(14), Pereyra(34), Jennings(65), Monthe(78), Mullin(87)
Yellow Cards- Jennings(70), Monthe(90)
Red Cards- Pereyra(89)