Less than 13,000 of the Albion faithful made the trip for the third round of the greatest cup in the world; which begs the question of whether the FA Cup has lost its appeal, needs restructuring or it was simply down to the current climate. A question for another day maybe?
The line up
The first thing that struck me when seeing the line up was the inclusion of the likes of Peter Odemwingie. This clearly proved the boss was taking the cup seriously. Albion lined up with: Foster, McAuley, Jones, Dawson, Shorey, Thorne, Jara, Dorrans, Morrison, Cox and Odemwingie.
Even though Cardiff had made 10 changes to their starting 11 due to having a League Cup semi final in three days’ time, I thought they started OK and looked quite confident on the ball. With the towering Bedford lad Thorne playing in the middle of the park, Albion started to pass the ball around nicely. After a spell of possession from the Bluebirds, Dawson put a beautiful ball through to beat the offside trap for Odemwingie – who looked about 10 yards offside from where we sat in the Brummie end, but clearly wasn't to slot home. 1-0.
Cardiff hadn't come just to lie down though and piled on the pressure with some good play at times and giving Foster a bit of work to do in the Albion goal.
Coxy, who was putting in a good shift, was brought down outside the Cardiff box and our captain Shorey was duly booked for taking the free kick too quickly! Very strange refereeing. But when Shorey’s inch perfect free kick was retaken, Coxy headed the ball powerfully into the back of the Smethwick end net. 2-0 Albion. Surely now the game was over? Remember this is the FA Cup I told myself
With the return of Ernie back to the Hawthorns it was a given he would score, and sure enough after a poor mistake by captain Shorey he did. 2-1. Game on!
After waiting for what seemed to be an eternity, The Bluebirds reappeared for the second half and started brightly. It was clear they were going to give us a game. Earnshaw looked as nifty as ever and managed to put a neat ball to Mason whose shot hit the post and went in. 2-2. Panic time.
Shorey, making up for his howler for their first goal, had a cracking shot outside the box that hit the bar. It's going to be one of those games I thought.
On the hour mark Jara and Thorne were subbed for the ever unpredictable Tchoyi and Fortune. Instantly these two had an impact on the game. Fortune never looks like scoring to me but boy can he hold the ball up at times. With a lovely pass from Fortune, Simon Cox smashed a shot against the post with the ball rolling straight across the goal-line and snuggled itself into the side netting. 3-2. The Lords My Shepherd time.
The stretched Cardiff side were now beginning to feel the pace. I felt and Albion were stringing some good football together. Odemwingie, seemingly determined to get another goal, missed an absolute sitter with about ten minutes to go but Man of the Match Simon Cox – who worked hard all game – put the game to bed with a simple tap in from Fortune. 4-2 and game over.
There were some good performances by our second string players. I thought Dorrans especially looked like the old player we all know and love. Simon Cox has given the boss a decision to make after upsetting him with outspoken comments about moving on. Surely, after scoring a hat-trick like that and Long being sidelined, he deserves a start against Norwich?
Have your say on Albion's win here at Baggies Banter.