As a boyhood Chelsea fan, Watford defender Tommie Hoban admits coming up against the Blues and striker Didier Drogba was a surreal experience. But it is one he hopes to repeat.

The 20-year-old centre-back started for the Hornets in their FA Cup third round tie at Stamford Bridge on Sunday and spent the majority of the opening half marking Drogba, who has scored 104 Premier League goals.

Hoban performed well against the powerful Ivorian before facing a second half examination from French international Loic Remy and £32 million striker Diego Costa.

While Chelsea went on to win the game 3-0, the Hornets display rightly earned praise and Hoban was arguably the visitors’ stand-out performer.

“It was a bit surreal before the game,” Hoban said. “When I was younger I would be in the stands watching but now I am coming out of the tunnel to play here.

“It was a great experience, although I would have liked to have come away with a good result. We need to focus on the league now and get promoted. Then we can come back here next year as a Premier League side.”

He continued: “It was very weird (facing Drogba). Once the game starts you don’t really think about who you are up against. In the tunnel before the match though you look over and Drogba is standing next to you, it feels a bit crazy.

“But these are the players you want to play against every week and it is something that I would like to get used to.

“It was a great test for me and as a team we can take positives from the performance.”

While Chelsea were far from their best, Watford didn’t look likely to cause an upset.

The Hornets failed to truly test Petr Cech but did frustrate their hosts before three goals in 14 second half minutes sealed the Blues’ passage into the fourth round.

“Coming to Chelsea and losing 3-0 isn’t an embarrassing result for us, it is respectable,” Hoban said after the game.

“We are disappointed but the fact they had to bring on Willian and Costa at half time shows we made it difficult for them.

“They struggled to break us down and we did catch them a few times on the break. On another day, if we got a goal before half time, we might have been able to get something.

“So while we are disappointed we were up against one of the best teams in the world. A team that is going for the Premier League and Champions League, so it isn’t the worst result.”