Date:Saturday January 3 2009
Saturday 3rd January 2009. 3:00pm
QUEENS Park Rangers failed to impress once again on home turf as they were held to stalemate by an unadventurous Burnley side.
Both sides created very little in 90 minutes of football which was played out in front of a modest crowd in W12. The R`s could only point to a handful of openings with Di Carmine forcing Brian Jensen into a good near post save, while Kaspars Gorkss` looping volley nestled onto the roof of the net in a thoroughly frustrating game.
Burnley seemed content to play out proceedings from the word go, but they carved out a couple of key chances with Wade Elliott`s cannoning back off the bar, and after the break Chris Eagles could only find the side netting after rounding Radek Cerny.
The first game of 2009 provided little endeavour and passion with neither side really taking the game by the scruff of the neck - really flying in the face of the tradition of the cup and what it stands for. Now they must do it all again back at Turf Moor, with supporters of both sides seeking a more entertaining affair next time out.
All three of Rangers new signings were ineligible for the FA Cup clash owing to a nonsense set of registration rules. So R`s boss Paulo Sousa opted for a 4-5-1 formation from the off with Lee Cook and Samuel Di Carmine flanking lone striker Dexter Blackstock.
The midfield comprised of skipper Martin Rowlands, Mikele Leigertwood and Gavin Mahon, with Kaspars Gorkss coming back into the side alongside Damion Stewart at the expense of Fitz Hall. On the bench the R`s had an extra two subs to play with and had the likes of Ledesma, Agyemang and Ephraim to select from.
Burnley`s small squad has come back to haunt them on the day with the Clarets only able to name six substitutes out of seven. Danger man Martin Paterson linked up with Steven Thompson up front, with Chris Eagles and Robbie Blake flanking them.
The Clarets employed Wade Elliott as a central midfielder alongside Joey Gudjonsen, and former R`s defender Clark Carlisle sitting alongside Michael Duff in a defensive shake-up for the Lancashire outfit.
Kick Off: Queens Park Rangers v Burnley
Neither side really provided any opening threat with passes going astray from both ends. The frustrating start to the fixture saw Rangers persistently wasteful with the ball at their feet, with the central midfield trio particularly guilty on several occasions.
Burnley`s main creative threat was predictably enough Chris Eagles, with the former Manchester United man displaying his trickery to give Damien Delaney a torrid time down the right flank. However one thing became apparent, a little bit of physicality and he quickly went missing.
The Clarets attempted to play football in the correct fashion, looking for their wingers and seeking to cut Rangers open down the by-line. Crosses from Kalvenes and Blake were providing ample food for thought for the Rangers rearguard, but rarely did they scythe the R`s open to the extent they did back in November.
It took the R`s until halfway through the first half to create a chance of note, with returning forward Samuel Di Carmine nearly capitalising on some sloppy defending. The young Italian on loan from Fiorentina managed to find some space on the left flank before cutting inside his man and firing an effort towards the near post. The rasping drive was beaten away by the sizeable frame of former West Bromwich Albion stopper Brian Jensen as at last the R`s fans had something to smile about.
Mikele Leigertwood embarrassed himself thoroughly when he sent an effort woefully wayward when well placed on the edge of the area. For my money any professional football should be able to watch the ball and strike it properly when you consider their earnings, but Mikele lazily flung a leg out at the chance and the ball flew out for a throw in on the opposite side. A miss which epitomised a lacklustre opening to the game.
For all of Burnley`s flair and attacking guile they produced very little in terms of clear cut opportunity, but they nearly caught the R`s cold from a corner kick instigated once more by Eagles. His corner found a flick on in the heart of the box and former Bournemouth man Wade Elliott sent a stinging volley goalbound. The effort caught out Rangers keeper Radek Cerny who could barely fling an arm out as the effort smashed back off the bar.
Burnley tried again with the persistent Joey Gudjonsson trying his luck from distance time and time again, but none of the efforts forced Cerny into a meaningful save. The Rangers defence confined the Clarets to shooting from outside the area, Gudjonsson and Robbie Blake the visitors` only efforts going into the break.
Rangers were beginning to look a little livelier whenever Lee Cook had the ball at his feel, running at his opposition full backs. The former Watford man enjoyed his roaming role on the left hand side as he came inside probing for openings in a stubborn Clarets defence. The major concern from Rangers` perspective however was the sheer resilience of the visitors and the fact that no passes were slipping through.
Gavin Mahon had the last of the R`s chances in the first period, as his well directed effort seemed destined for the bottom left hand corner, but once again the Burnley defence was at its best to block the effort as it flew goalbound.
With that the first half was brought to an end, a somewhat disappointing half for home and travelling supporters alike with the lack of clear cut chances or attacking endeavour leaving supporters thoroughly frustrated, making a mockery of the weighty price-tag.
Half Time: Queens Park Rangers 0-0 Burnley
Paulo Sousa withdrew Lee Cook at half time for the second game in succession, with Emmanuel Ledesma called into action to his surprise as the young Argentinean`s warm up was cut short by the irate Portuguese boss.
An amusing incident then occurred when John Harbin and Gareth Ainsworth were discussing tactics with the substitute while he was doing some last minute warming up, and Sousa came out and glared at the trio, to which Harbin held his hands up in apology and let Ledesma continue his preparation.
Rangers always look more confidence kicking towards the Loftus Road end and nearly had the advantage early in the second period courtesy of an unlikely source, defender Kaspars Gorkss. The Latvian international latched onto a flick on from Peter Ramage`s free kick, he managed to twist and get a right footed volley away. The effort looped ominously towards the top left hand corner but drifted narrowly over the bar nestling on the roof of the net.
The R`s were beginning to get up a head of steam, seeing a lot of the ball if not in the crucial areas of the pitch. Rangers saw the majority of the ball at the back and again through the midfield, but misplaced passes and individual error cost them dear in the final third.
Emmanuel Ledesma was the next to try his luck from distance, as Rangers were becoming increasingly desperate in front of goal. The young Argentinean who seemed intent on hitting everything that came his way, wrapped his left foot round a loose ball, only to see the chance drift well wide of Jensen`s left hand upright.
Former Manchester United winger Chris Eagles brought Loftus Road to a hush as he raced on to a long through ball. With only Damien Delaney for company Eagles raced clear to bring him one on one with Cerny. A heavy touch saw him have to round the Czech stopper before placing his desperate effort into the side netting. But for an uncharacteristic lapse in technique, the R`s would have been behind.
Another of many tactical shifts saw Hogan Ephraim replace Gavin Mahon. It was anyone`s guess where he would play, as he began by hugging the right touchline. This seemed out of sync with what was happening on the left flank, with a gaping hole appearing where Lee Cook would be situated.
Hogan was receiving a lot of support from full back Peter Ramage, who raced to the aid of the former West Ham United man on the overlap. Ramage`s crossing was somewhat sporadic on occasions, but the support he supplied gave Rangers more bodies as possibilities going forward. If only others had shared his endeavour there may have been goals on the cards.
On the other flank Delaney was left isolated and alone, as he struggled to get forward from his full back berth to provide opportunities. The midfielders that were intended to support him went missing whenever the full back had the ball, which more often than not culminated in a mis-placed cross or having to stop and feed the ball backwards.
As the game was beginning to wind down, Burnley rather unbelievably began to time-waste. This was epitomised by Brian Jensen`s persistence in waiting for the attacker before picking the ball up - not against the rules of course, but in the Clarets current situation in terms of fixture pile-up and lack of players, it was hardly smart to want a replay on their hands.
The Clarets were looking still to play on the break, without ever really asserting their own attacking impetus on proceedings. Former Cardiff City man Steven Thompson shanked the ball over the bar from close range after more good work from Chris Eagles.
Sousa threw on Patrick Agyemang in a desperate bid to progress in the competition, he replaced a tired Samuel Di Carmine, and R`s fans hoped he would be the catalyst for positive play and ultimately the win.
The ball pinged around the Burnley box on one occasion, but Patrick`s threat could not be sustained as the Rangers faithful had to watch the visitors create the final chance of the fixture.
Substitute Alan Mahon who won the fixture last time out at Loftus Road, nearly repeated the feat as he sent his 25 yard drive inches wide of the left hand upright. The effort was always swerving away from the target but nevertheless hearts were in mouths in W12.
With that Mr Bates blew the final whistle, which was met with boos from a section of the modest crowd. Boos of disappointment rather than anger as Rangers know they must do it all again up in Lancashire.
Full Time: Queens Park Rangers 0-0 Burnley
Queens Park Rangers: Radek Cerny, Damien Delaney, Damion Stewart, Gavin Mahon (Hogan Ephraim 61), Mikele Leigertwood, Dexter Blackstock, Kaspars Gorkss, Martin Rowlands, Peter Ramage, Lee Cook (Emmanuel Ledesma 46), Samuel Di Carmine (Patrick Agyemang 72).
Burnley: Brian Jensen, Graham Alexander, Christian Kalvenes, Michael Duff, Clarke Carlisle, Joey Gudjonsson, Martin Paterson, Wade Elliott, Robbie Blake (Alan Mahon 71), Steven Thompson (Jay Rodriguez 86), Chris Eagles.
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Date:Saturday January 3 2009
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