Nigel Pearson said his young Watford players who featured in the 2-1 extra-time FA Cup replay defeat at Tranmere Rovers were given an "introduction to men's football".

The Hornets fielded a team mainly consisting of first-team fringe players and Under 23s and were second best in the game at Prenton Park, as they dropped out of the competition in which they were runners-up last season.

The head coach described the game as a reality check for some of his players who he said may not make it in the Premier League, but who perhaps thought life would be easy against lower-league opponents.

"We found out quite a bit about some of our fringe players and the added benefit is some of our youngsters have been introduced to men's football - and welcome to it," he said.

"We had a few words at half-time because I think in the first-half we were second best in terms of a bit of desire and maybe that's a steep learning curve for some of our young players who think they can possibly just turn out and show people what they can do.

"You've got to earn the right in every game that you play and I thought we saw a big improvement in the second-half and we knew the pitch was going to be difficult. Looking at the players who've played for us tonight, not all of them are going to make it in the Premier League, so it's a bit of a reality check and I think it's been a very valuable experience for us as coaching staff to have a look at some of the players who we probably didn't know all that much about, I'm talking about Craig and myself, so there are positive outcomes from tonight, but clearly it's about trying to go through and we didn't achieve that."

Pearson was quick to reiterate that the cup was not Watford's priority this season, after they slipped back into the relegation places with defeat at Aston Villa on Tuesday.

However, he praised Rovers boss Micky Mellon and said he felt overall, it was a good cup tie to have been involved in.

"I don't want to talk in any other way other than to say that I think it was a good cup tie tonight," he said.

"Congratulations to Micky and his staff, you can see how important it was to them and I think he's a really good football man. He's not had the opportunities that somebody of his quality deserves and it's a good night for him and Tranmere. I want to congratulate him of course, but it's really about me looking at us and what our priorities are."