60 min: “Shoooot,” bellow the Wolves fans but Neves cannot keep his long-ranger on target.
59 min: Watford are pushing back on again, but are a little one-dimensional. Deeney is a danger, but there needs to be more variation to get the better of a well organised opponent.
57 min:Watford win a free-kick, and pile the big men forward. It is Deeney who climbs highest, perhaps too high as he heads it when heading the way down.
56 min: Neves’s free-kick, from the left-hand side of the box, is whipped and swerved just past the back post. Gomes was nowhere near it and could only watch it sail by. Wolves have had the chances to put this one to bed.
54 min: Troy Deeney, ever dangerous, has a sniff of a chance, but his shot is wide and weak. At the other end, Jota is fouled by Cathcart, who takes a yellow card. Jota has been outstanding.
53 min: Ian Copestake emails in, having clearly watched a similar TV broadcast: “I can’t believe i know more about football/the real world than Glenn Hoddle, but he has no recollection of the Sherpa Van Trophy!”
Glenn’s situation in 1988 was in Monaco, at the end of the day. In 1987, when he left Tottenham, it was called the Leyland DAF.
51 min: Close! Jota, again, shows great skill and invention but Jimenez cannot quite wrap himself around the ball. That could have sealed it.
50 min: Hughes looks to find an opening but runs straight into Saiss. Watford have taken up the mantle again, but Wolves are holding them at bay.
48 min: Wolves striker Jimenez forces a save from Gomes, bringing the ball down from Saiss’ pass and cutting inside to fire a shot. Gomes saves down low.
46 min: And away we go. Wolves look to be sitting back a little from the early, very early signs. Nuno, who learned at the feet of José Mourinho, is not one for going for broke.
Ok, we are due to get back underway any moment soon…the central areas of the stands empty, as they always are at Wembley.
Peter Oh continues to bring the banter: “It’s a good thing Elton John is not in the house, because in the unlikely event that Wolves’ Moroccan international defender scores a decisive goal, I have a “Saiss on song says so much” email queued up. Fingers crossed!”
Here’s the moment of truth so far
The two minutes of added time are at an end. Matt Doherty’s goal came against the run of play, but Wolves might have added to it once it was scored. Andre Gray will surely spend half-time rueing two chances, the first hit wide, the second not hit with enough purchase to get past Conor Coady.
45+1 min:What a block! Deeney’s flick finds Gray, and he seems to have a golden chance but as he pulls the trigger, across comes Conor Coady. Heroic stuff from the Wolves captain, but again Gray had to do better.
45 min: Will Hughes, who has been excellent, looks Watford’s best chance of something. On the opposite flank, Femenia shows his frustration.
44 min: Watford need to see this one out until half-time, perhaps but go chasing an equaliser. Gray, who missed that pearling chance, is run out on the touchline. The goal has banjaxed the rhythm they had found for the first 37 minutes.
41 min: If individual skill was going to be key, then it is Diogo Jota who has made the difference with the key pass for the goal, after creating space for himself to do so, and then on the slalom run that followed. Jimenez meanwhile, has a run at goal before being crowded out. Wolves are brimming with confidence.
39 min: Wolves in the ascendancy now. Jota breaks at great pace, checks and fires just wide. There will have been a few fans who thought that had gone in. Danger for Watford.
It came against the run of play, as Jonny chips the ball to the back post, and Doherty stoops to head in. It came from a short corner and Doherty, on the opposite flank to his usual, came in on the back post.
35 min: Wolves force a fine save from Gomes. Jonny cuts in from the flank, shimmies past a couple of plays and lays it to Dendoncker, who rasps a shot on goal.
34 min: Peter Oh emails in: “That centre circle in the preamble photo of the Wolves chalkboard is disproportionately small. Ultra-compact midfield?”
Stan Cullis favoured a long-ball approach.
33 min: Watford need to capitalise here. They have been far the better team. Their flexible play is making life difficult for Wolves.
31 min: Close! Deeney takes down a long ball, and expertly flicks it to Gray. The ball comes back out, and Deeney’s cross is excellent. Gray’s foot is raised and he can’t keep the shot down. He had to do better.
28 min: Boly gives a free-kick away. Wolves are mounting up the fouls. Watford are in the ascendancy here, if yet to create a full and proper chance.
26 min: The word is that Elton John is not at Wembley, and is concentrating on rehearsals for what will be his final world tour. Insert Reg Dwight pun here.
25 min: Neves is booked for a foul on Pereyra that he had to make, and Wolves have a free-kick close to the byline. The kick is dinked to Will Hughes, on his left foot, and all that he can hit is fresh air. The jeers are deserved, as that was a waste. Another player looking nervous.
23 min: Deeney turns on a sixpence, and pings a ball out wide…but nobody there. Watford are staying narrow, in a midfield diamond.
22 min: Jeers as Pereyra fails to keep the ball in. A few players struggling for touch. This is already getting nervy.
20 min: Jonny sweeps up the danger when Will Hughes was threatening to create something. Wolves are sat deep, not pushing forward unless the opportunity arises.
17 min: Long ball from Doucoure fails to find the head of Deeney. Both Watford’s strikers have been quiet. At the other end, Doucoure fouls Jimenez, and Wolves have chance to pump a free-kick into the 18-yard box. The kick evades everyone and the ball is cleared to cheers from Watford fans.
15 min: These teams are well matched against each other. That suggests an individual piece of skill is required to open this up. Plenty of players capable of that here, but midfield is already looking an attritional affair. Both teams playing two up front, mind.
13 min: An Alain Supermarche tweets in: “Will they be presenting the runners up medals at the end of the game?
Most droll, Alain.
12 min: A period of calm? Wolves been a little quiet in the last few minutes, with Watford looking to have the measure of the game after a couple of early scares. Wolves yet to get their full-backs, so important to their strategy, into the game.
10 min: A yellow card for Wolves’ Saiss, who scythed down Pereyra, and with a high challenge. Saiss ended up damaging his own mouth in getting carried away. He is forced to change his shirt due to the blood.
8 min: Capoue and Femenia both have shots blocked. Watford are a powerful side, and have the muscle to make Wolves do some serious defending.
7 min: Chances at both ends. Both teams going for it, fans living on their nerves…ah, the FA Cup, and just as we like it. It’s been a hugely promising start.
5 min: Jota is fouled by Mariappa and this is a free-kick chance for Wolves. Moutinho is the man to take it and he drifts it over the wall, but cannot get the right fade on it.
4 min:Watford have a corner, and John Ruddy climbs highest to palm away. He is playing as Wolves’ designated FA Cup goalkeeper.
2 min: Wolves have settled well, and take their time getting used to possession. Now, how long can Wembley retain its atmosphere? The place has a habit of going flat even among the most enthusiastic fans.
Really noisy as Wolves get us underway to the tune of Sloop John B, and Jonny starts it all off with a fizzing shot which drips over the bar. It was inches away.
Heurelho Gomes in goal for Watford: what could possibly go wrong? He is set to retire this summer to become a pastor.
Ok, here we go. A hugely colourful occasion at Wembley and it sounds a little bit louder than yesterday’s semi-final. This is a sell-out. They enter the field to the noise of the Prodigy’s Breathe and then that Oasis instrumental with the rude title.
Wolves will play in white, and Watford in yellow.
The changes in the teams are as follows. From the Press Association.
Heurelho Gomes replaced Ben Foster in goal for Watford for their FA Cup semi-final with Wolves, while striker Andre Gray came in against his hometown club in place of Gerard Deulofeu. Romain Saiss replaced Ryan Bennett in defence as Wolves reverted to the team which beat Manchester United in the quarter-final last month. John Ruddy and Jonny also returned following the 2-1 Premier League win over United in the week.
Wolves’ last visit to Wembley in a game not including their December visit to play Spurs was on May 29, 1988, when they beat Burnley 2-0 to win the Sherpa Van Trophy final (the Checkatrade in new money), in front of an 80,841-strong crowd. Andy Mutch and Robbie Dennison got the goals.
Some stats, courtesy of BT.
- Watford will play their seventh FA Cup semi-final, only managing to progress on one previous occasion – a 1-0 victory over Plymouth back during the 1983-84 campaign. Indeed, of sides to appear in at last five FA Cup semi-finals, Watford have the joint-lowest progression rate alongside Fulham (1/6 – 17%).
- Wolves have won their last six games at Wembley Stadium – only Arsenal (7 between May 2014 and May 2017) and Tottenham (7 between January-March 2018) have won more consecutively at the ground.
Simon Burnton on Watford’s rise this season.
Stuart James on how this is just the beginning for the Wolves project.
Those teams in analogue fashion now.
Watford: Gomes, Femenia, Mariappa, Cathcart, Holebas, Doucoure, Capoue, Hughes, Pereyra, Deeney, Gray.
Subs: Janmaat, Deulofeu, Masina, Sema, Quina, Foster, Kabasele.
Wolverhampton: John Ruddy, Saiss, Coady, Boly, Doherty, Dendoncker, Joao Moutinho, Neves, Jonny, Jimenez, Jota.
Subs: Bennett, Ivan Cavaleiro, Helder Costa, Gibbs-White, Ruben Vinagre, Norris, Traore.
Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)
Here are the teams.
And for Wolves.
The last time Wolves were in an FA Cup semi-final was 1998, when Christopher Wreh – remember him? – was the difference for a Double-hunting Arsenal. The last time Watford were in an FA Cup semi-final was in 2016, when they lost out to Crystal Palace and their fans got annoyed with Wilfried Zaha’s theatrics.
But really, thinking of both teams and the FA Cup, and one is cast back to very different times. Watford in the FA Cup? It is difficult not to think of Elton John’s straw boater in 1984, and the sad songs that said so much, after Steve Sherwood fumbled and Everton ran out winners.
And Wolves and the FA Cup conjures images of the post-war era: Billy Wright as winner in 1949 long before he married a Beverley Sister, and then 1960, beating Blackburn Rovers 3-0 on the day that Rovers’ Dave Whelan broke his leg, and set on his way to becoming a shell-suit magnate. Wolves that day featured prosaic names like Eddie Clamp, Barry Stobart, Norman Deeley and George Showell. The mastermind that day, as it had been in 1949, was Stan Cullis, one of the greats of English football management, though something of a forgotten name these days to all but those in Wolverhampton old gold.
Times move on, and today’s teams are managed by a sharp-suited Spaniard in Javi Gracia for Watford and a Portuguese hipster in Wolves’ Nuno Espirito Santo. This looks an evenly matched contest, between two teams with heavy claims to be the best of the rest in the Premier League. They have only met once this season, back in October, where Watford won 2-0 at Molineux, and with something in hand. The suggestion is Wolves, twice conquerors of Manchester United, and who have taken points off all of the Big Six, bar Liverpool, who they beat in the FA Cup, are better against the big teams than their peers.
Wembley awaits, and it will be tinged with yellow and gold.