WATFORD 2 - 0 BURTON ALBIONGoals in each half from Christian Kabasele and Jerome Sinclair saw Watford through to the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup at Albion's expense. Kabasele, Watford's Belgian right back, tapped in at the back post from left back Brandon Mason's cross midway through the first half before a solo effort from Sinclair secured a safe passage for Walter Mazarri's men.
Albion battled hard throughout and had chances, debutant Luke Varney heading just wide and Marcus Harness just failing to connect with a low cross, both chances supplied by Tom Flanagan from the left but ultimately the extra quality of the Premier League side took them through to the last thirty-two.
The Brewers main concern, post match, will be an injury to Varney. The new signing from Ipswich appeared to fall awkwardly whilst challenging Watford keeper Costel Pantilimon in the second half and had to leave the pitch on a stretcher, aided by an oxygen mask to give him pain relief.
Nigel Clough opted to ring the changes as Albion took their first steps into this season's Emirates FA Cup. The regular formation stayed the same but there were six changes to the starting line-up. John Brayford returned to the defence after being rested following his half time substitution at Rotherham. There was also a start at the back for Flanagan as John Mousinho dropped to the bench, handing over the captains armband to Brayford. Harness was handed a first start of the season on the right with former Hornet Lloyd Dyer on the left. Another ex-Watford man, Lee Williamson lined up in the centre of midfield alongside Matty Palmer and Tom Naylor, Will Miller partnering Varney in the Albion attack. Having only joined the club yesterday, Luke Murphy was on the bench for his first game as a Brewer.
After a cagey opening from both sides where neither keeper was tested Watford were forced into make a change just fifteen minutes in. Irish defender Craig Cathcart had already required treatment once before he jogged off leaving the home side temporarily down to ten men until substitute Sebastian Prodl was ready to come on as a ready made replacement.
Twice former Liverpool youngster Sinclair looked set to test the Albion defence with surging runs but both times his feet gave way on the slippery Vicarage Road pitch allowing the Albion midfield to tidy up and clear.
Albion were finally split open on 22 minutes. Young left back Brandon Mason escaped the attention of Harness on the left and although his low cross evaded Odion Ighalo in the centre of the box, KABASELE was unmarked at the back post to stroke home unchallenged.
Calmed by the goal Watford began to play some slick passing football and the skills of Ighalo worked an opportunity for what would have been an excellent second. Exchanging passes with his skipper Troy Deeney the striker switched the ball to his left, glided past a defender and sent a rising drive just over Jon McLaughlin's crossbar.deep into A
Albion were forced into their own change just after the half hour mark. Miller went to ground with what looked like a hamstring injury and turning to the bench Nigel Cloug summonsed Jamie Ward to take the place of the young Spurs man.
Williamson, back on his old stomping ground let Etienne Capoue know he was in a game with a full blooded challenge near the half way line. It was a perfectly fair challenge but the Frenchman took a few moments to get his breath back and dust himself off before being able to continue.
When Albion did get into good crossing positions they were unable to unable to capitalise, particularly with the giant figure of Romanian keeper Costel Pantilimon between the posts for Watford. The big keeper was stretched on 42 minutes having to punch a left wing centre out to the edge of the box but Ward's follow up shot clattered into a defender. The rebound fell kindly for Ighalo who promptly sped deep into Burton territory, closely watched by Kyle McFadzean and when the ball was eventually laid into the path of Capoue his low drive was safely fielded by McLaughlin at the second attempt.
Tom Naylor found his way into referee Lee Mason's notebook for a clumsy foul on Capoue as half time approached and Albion were just on the attack when the Premier League official signalled the end of the first half, just as Ward intercepted a poor clearance from Pantilimon.
Half time: Watford 1-0 Burton Albion
Albion switched to a 4-4-2 formation for the second half and they soon began to made inroads into the Watford defence. Dyer had a chance to open up his former side on the left but chose to play in the overlapping Flanagan. The full back picked out a cross to the near post that was met by Varney, the new signing from Ipswich gutted to see his header flash the wrong side of the post.
Flanagan was at it again moments later raiding into the Watford box, this time cutting back onto his right foot and delivering a ball into the six yard box that Harness was inches away from converting into an equaliser.
Capoue was getting a taste for long range efforts and he had McLaughlin nervously scrambling across his goal on 55 minutes to see a 30 yarder whizz past his post.
Harness managed to get the better of Mason moments later and only a timely challenge from Miguel Britos denied Varney in the centre.
Watford made their second change on the hour mark with other centre back Younes Kaboul making way for Brice Dja Djedje.
Flanagan became Albion's second booking of the afternoon on 62 minutes after Sinclair showed a burst of pace to get past him, the Burton man grabbing him as he went past sending him to the ground.
Varney's Brewers debut came to an abrupt halt on 69 minutes when he left the field on a stretcher. Palmer swung in a teasing free kick and as Pantilimon came to punch clear from a flick on he collided with the Albion newbie and immediately sensed the severity of the situation waving for the physio to come on and trest the striken striker. After several minutes of treatment Varney was placed on the stretcher and left complete with oxygen mask to be replaced by Lucas Akins.
SINCLAIR finally put the game beyond Albion on 77 minutes. Picking the ball up deep he sped towards the Burton penalty area. Just when it looked as if his route to goal had been closed off he moved the ball to his right and from just inside the 'D' unleashed an unstoppable shot that flew beyond McLaughlin.
Brewers fans got their first glimpse of Murphy as he was given the last ten minutes in place of Palmer.
Ighalo was denied by McLaughlin as the Premier League side went in search of a third, the legs of the keeper doing enough to keep the ball from going in and Dja Djedje rifled over as Watford began to enjoy themselves.
Akins saw a shot blocked by Prodl as Albion tried to finish with something to show for their effort. The stoppage for the injury to Varney contributed to a total of eight added minutes.
Sinclair was denied by McLaughlin late on as the youngster looked to finish with a brace but Albion's keeper won out this time and the striker was replaced late into stoppage time, the Hornets giving a debut to youngster Carl Stewart. Watford had done enough without overly impressing over the 90 minutes but their young guns had seen them through.
Ultimately Albion bade farewell to this season's Emirates FA Cup but they put up a decent showing against a Premier League outfit. Now the attention returns to the main business of accumulating Championship points.