Quique Sanchez Flores: Players shouldn't be thinking about FA Cup semi-final
Published 19/03/2016 | 19:41
Quique Sanchez Flores denied Watford were suffering an FA Cup hangover after they slipped to a 2-1 defeat to Stoke.
The Hornets looked a pale shadow of the side which memorably beat Arsenal six days ago to reach the semi-finals.
Goals in each half from Jonathan Walters and Joselu gave Stoke a comfortable victory despite Troy Deeney's late consolation.
But Vicarage Road boss Flores insists his players are not already thinking about their Wembley date with Crystal Palace next month.
"I don't know if last weekend had an effect but we are disappointed," he said. "W hen we finally realised we were not in the match it was a little bit late.
"We created chances in the final third of the game. But in the first half we were not completely focused. We forgot the plan.
"We don't play again in the FA Cup for a month. I don't think the players are thinking about the semi-final, and if they are it would be a big mistake."
Stoke took the lead in the 18th minute when H ornets defender Miguel Britos missed Phil Bardsley's cross and Walters pounced at the far post.
S ix minutes after half-time they made it two thanks to an error from Heurelho Gomes and a canny piece of invention from Walters.
Hornets keeper Gomes scuffed his goal-kick straight to Walters, who instinctively volleyed the ball into the path of Joselu leaving the Spaniard clean through to score with a deft lob.
Watford pulled one back when Deeney headed in a cross from substitute Ikechi Anya, but they could not prevent Mark Hughes' side moving to within a point of Manchester United in sixth place.
Walters was the star of the show, despite having only been recalled due to injuries after a spell out of the side.
"I spoke to Jonathan earlier in the week and told him he was playing," said City boss Hughes.
"You could tell from the start that he was focused and ready to make an impact. He's not been playing for the last few weeks but he came in to good effect,
"We dominated the first half and could have taken the game away from Watford by half-time. But we came out and got the second.
"Then they threw some balls into our box and we had to deal with that. Both sides of the game we did well and that shows our quality."