Tuesday night saw the Baggies' chance of a cup run come tumbling down on a cold night at a sparsely populated Hawthorns, following Jay Bothroyd’s 76th minute header. Albion had chances aplenty, but Robert Green put in a stellar shift between the posts for the visitors to deny the Baggies what would have been a well-deserved goal.
Arguably this was a tie that should have been wrapped up at Loftus Road, but Kieran Dyer clearly wanted to leave QPR with a bang. So here we were, third round replay, just a few days after the capitulation at Reading. Here was a chance to get some winning morale back into the team before the game against Villa on Saturday.
Travelling down from Manchester, I thought we had a good chance of progression considering the way the game had gone at Loftus Road, and also considering we had already beaten them twice this season. Ideally a win in 90 minutes would be best, with me managing to get a train home, instead of spending the best part of my night in various train stations after extra time and/or potential penalties, that I would have no faith in winning.
The team saw four changes from the team that had played at Reading, with Boaz Myhill stepping in for Ben Foster between the sticks, alongside Gabriel Tamas, Goran Popov and Markus Rosenberg. The bench also saw a welcome return to Steven Reid. The QPR team made six changes from the team that drew 0-0 with Tottenham at the weekend and even Rob Hulse found himself on the bench for the Hoops.
The First Half
The game started very slowly, as many predicted, but it was QPR who registered the first shot at goal when Jay Bothroyd struck the ball from 20 yards out, only to see it deflected out. This seemed to awaken Albion, with Lukaku heading off target after Popov sent the ball to him. Following this, Albion were much the better team than QPR, with Dorrans looking pretty sharp down the right. Lukaku was to have another chance and Dorrans smashed a well-placed free kick straight into the QPR wall.
The next chance, just before the half hour mark, could have seen Lukaku put the Baggies in front were it not for Rob Green’s reflex save, after Popov had crossed the ball into him from the left. Just minutes later, Myhill was called into action when he was forced to dive full stretch to push away Bothroyd’s shot.
Just before the end of this half, Jerome Thomas blocked Anton Ferdinand’s attempted clearance, racing into the box, but his ball was soon reached by Green, denying Rosenberg, who was lurking behind, for what would have been a simple tap in. Dorrans was to have another shot, but shot high and wide, when he could have been far better off passing to a teammate.
The Second Half
The second half started similar to the first, being played in quite a low tempo. Half-time substitution for QPR, Shaun Wright-Phillips, livened up the away team considerably and in the second half he was a real threat against Albion. Gareth McAuley had a couple of headed chances go wide in the opening exchanges of the half, but it was still Lukaku who was providing the biggest threat for us, forcing another near post save from Rob Green.
Then on the 72nd minute, Odemwingie came off the bench for the Baggies in place of Jerome Thomas, who had had quite a good game, looking well settled back into the team. Just minutes later, QPR took the lead after Bothroyd headed the ball into the net past Myhill after a Faurlin corner.
Shortly after the restart, Green was called to QPR’s rescue once again when he kept out Rosenberg’s volley from a Lukaku cross. Minutes after this, McAuley had another chance, heading the ball across the face of goal.
It was Rosenberg who was to shoot next, when he saw an effort from the edge of the box get pushed away by the ever impressive Green. Goran Popov was next to test the former England ‘keeper when he shot at Green from 25 yards out. It was quite clear that nothing was going to go past Green and soon enough the final whistle blew alongside hopes of another cup run.
Before we played QPR at Loftus Road the other week, I really fancied a good cup run. We’ve had a fantastic season thus far, picking up points aplenty, and all we need are another fewwins and ideally, we’ll be safe for another season. A cup run was something we could have fared with quite well, not worrying about relegation problems; especially when the 4thRound draw was announced with winners playing either MK Dons or Sheffield Wednesday at home.
Both games in the cup have not been a good advertisement for what is constantly advertised as ‘the greatest cup competition in the world’, but the game on Tuesday further showed the skills of Lukaku and also how good the young George Thorne is, who I have been a fan of for quite a while now. However, Markus Rosenberg still raised many question marks, and well into January now, many fans are understandably getting on the Swede’s back. He showed glimpses of his skill, and were it not for Green, perhaps he may have scored. In fact, if Green were not playing, I am pretty sure, we would be looking forward to a 4th round tie.
Boing Boing !