Rangers Fail Again At 1st Hurdle
13/1/09 at 7.45pm
Rangers turned their attention to FA Cup tonight. There was to be no "happy ending" as the FA Cup 3rd round voodoo struck again, heartbreakingly in the 119th minute of play.
Samuel Di Carmine had given Rangers the lead in the 54th minute, but that lead was to last no more than 5 minutes, as Stephen Thompson equalised on 59 minutes.
After that, both teams had some, although not many, opportunities to win the tie in the 90 minutes and, in fairness, the best chances did seem to fall to QPR. But with those opportunities going begging, the game headed into extra time.
An uncharacteristic lapse from stalwart Damion Stewart let Jay Rodriguez save the tie from going to penalties and handing the victory to Burnley. So Rangers venture in the FA Cup finishes in the 3rd round yet again, as Burnley now travel to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday 24th January instead.
Paulo Sousa made several changes to the line-up that started against Coventry City on Saturday. Matthew Connolly, who had started at right-back on Saturday, found himself on the bench as Sousa opted for Fitz Hall at right back. Damian Delaney, Damion Stewart and Kaspars Gorkss completed the defence for the Rs.
In midfield, Lee Cook was again absent as a result of a virus whilst Routledge was ineligible. Souse went for a 4-5-1 formation tonight, so Gavin Mahon started alongside Mikele Leigertwood and Martin Rowlands, with Emmanuel Ledesma and Alberti supporting the midfield down the wings. Samuel Di Carmine was the lone striker. Dexter Blackstock did not feature although Heidar Helguson was on the bench, along with youngster Romone Rose. Hogan Ephraim, keeper Reece Crowther and defenders Peter Ramage and Gary Borrowdale completed the Rs` substitutes.
Owen Coyle had to make several changes to the side which lost to Swansea on the weekend. Before kick-off, Martin Paterson suffered an unexpected problem which meant he was unable to start. Instead, leading scorer Robbie Blake started for Burnley. Michael Duff was suspended - his place was taken by QPR old-boy Clarke Carlisle. Steven Thompson joined Robbie Blake up front and, because of the late change involving Paterson, Adam Kay found himself on the Burnley bench.
Kick off: Burnley v Queens Park Rangers
The match began scrappily with long balls and miss-hits as both teams tried to settle. For QPR, some of the players also had to reacquaint themselves with playing first team football having not featured since the Christmas period.
QPR`s midfield didn`t settle, particularly as Leigertwood and Rowlands didn`t seem to know where exactly they were supposed to be playing! Mahon at least knew he was the defensive holding midfielder - phew!
Trouble was, at least initially, all balls up to Di Carmine were long and high, which the youngster could do nothing with, particularly with Clarke Carlisle acting his shadow. Give the ball to feet, as Ledesma did towards Di Carmine after about 15 minutes, and there was more likely to be a result (although not on that occasion!)
QPR`s first shot on target came thanks to a left-footed effort from Ledesma on 28 minutes. But even Burnley, who were trying to play a little bit of football, weren`t managing much in the first 30 minutes. The odd cross into the box, which Cerny gathered easily, were the best Burnley could muster initially. On 24 minutes, Gudjonsson tried his luck - but his right-footed shot went wide of Cerny`s right-hand post.
The best chance, however, fell to Burnley on 33 minutes. Wade Elliott called Cerny into action from 6 yards or so out following good work from tricky Robbie Blake. He hit the ball very well but Cerny caught it comfortably. This seemed to provoke the Burnley fans, who were not in attendance in particularly great numbers, to start a little sing-song - but that soon petered out after a poor Burnley free-kick taken by Joey Gudjonsson.
Rangers were creating virtually nothing. That was probably what prompted Damian Delaney to run towards goal and, at about 35 yards out, take a woeful shot! Maybe he could have taken his run a little further?
The Rs midfield was creating nothing. Alberti had no confidence, Ledesma was doing his usual swan-dives, and Leigertwood and Rowlands could not produce passes of note.
In the final seconds of the half, Delaney went in on Chris Eagles needlessly, never got anywhere near the ball and earned himself a booking as well as conceding a free kick (which was the last kick of the half). Delaney was being given a torrid time by Eagles, who had got the measure of the left-back, and it begged the question as to whether Eagles would go on and mug Delaney in the second half - or whether Sousa would replace Delaney with Borrowdale, perhaps, before that could happen!
The best word to use to describe this half is "tepid". Neither side had made any real efforts and, unless there was a marked improvement in the second half, the game was heading for extra time and, worse, penalties!
Half time: Burnley 0 - 0 Queens Park Rangers
Burnley won their first corner at the start of the 2nd half. (Rangers had at least had 2 corners in the first half - wow!) The opening exchanges of this half were being played in the QPR half as Rangers struggled to not just win possession but keep it.
Burnley were pressing and it was Clarke Carlisle who got the better of the Rangers` defence, 3 minutes into the half, but only managed to head the ball into the side netting.
Ledesma was waiting to pounce on a ball being brought down the wings by Delaney. Burnley cleared it away for a corner, but that was turned away for Rangers` 4th corner of the evening. At last, QPR seemed to be having a good spell of possession and were putting a bit of pressure on Burnley.
Goal: Burnley 0 - 1 Queens Park Rangers
Leigertwood created the goal, on 53 minutes, almost out of nothing. He muscled Alan Mahon off the ball - which could have been, but wasn`t given as, a foul - and passed to Di Carmine. He took aim from inside the box and the ball was soon resting in the bottom right-hand side of Burnley`s net.
Sousa then made his first change of the evening, replacing Ledesma with Hogan Ephraim on 54 minutes. Then, on 55 minutes, Elliott was caught in possession and Rowlands suddenly found himself able to put the game to bed but, unfortunately, his shot rebounded off the cross bar instead of nestling in the back of the net.
Goal: Burnley 1 - 1 Queens Park Rangers
Within 6 minutes, however, Burnley were level. Following a cross from Stephen Jordan, Delaney cleared the ball for a corner. Burnley took it short and Gudjonsson took a shot which Leigertwood blocked. But then, following absolutely terrible goalkeeping by Radek Cerny, who flapped at the ball like a fish out of water when it would have been easier to catch, Steven Thompson scored. He picked up the ball that Cerny should have claimed and, from close in, bundled the ball over the line.
After this brief activity around both team`s penalty areas, the game settled into a period of half-chances. Coyle made another substitution, taking of Robbie Blake for youngster Jay Rodriguez. With almost his first touch he had a chance but headed over.
QPR were making a few mistakes, giving away possession easily. Fitz Hall was the main culprit - perhaps his batman-style mask was hindering his ability to see?
Burnley`s pressure almost created a 2nd goal for them, as they tried to test Cerny again. With our goalkeeper now seeming devoid of all confidence, he was found standing stock still as Burnley peppered our box with crosses. Graham Alexander`s cross, on 76 minutes, missed everyone - including our keeper!
Romone Rose then came on for Gavin Mahon, with Leigertwood moving into the defensive holding midfielder position vacated by Mahon. And, with 5 minutes to go, Helguson found himself involved, at the expense of Di Carmine. Burnley also made a change late on, bringing Alan MacDonald on for Gudjonsson.
Rowlands had a chance to put the game to bed, running almost 50 yards, only for his shot to sail disappointingly over the cross bar. Then, Rangers won a free kick on the edge of the area. Ephraim stepped up to take the kick but it amounted to nothing. But Rangers continued to pressure and it was only an amazing clearance on the line from Clarke Carlisle that prevented the Rs from scoring.
Delaney then had a chance to be a hero as he cleared a Chris Eagles shot off the line and, as Alex MacDonald turned the loose ball over the line, the linesman raised his flag for offside against Eagles. Eagles claimed he hadn`t touched the ball, but the goal did not stand. Phew!
That was the end of the ninety minutes! At least it was a more exciting 2nd half but, as in previous games, chances were few and far between for the Rs - until the last 10 minutes. Martin Rowlands definitely seemed to Rangers top player in the 2nd half and it was a shame that he was unable to score late on.
Final whistle: Burnley 1 - 1 Queens Park Rangers
Extra time started rather tentatively. Both sides were making mistakes, giving away possession and free-kicks cheaply. There was a little bit of excitement later on in the first 15 minutes.
Alex MacDonald beat Delaney and had a clear shot on goal, but hit his shot straight at Cerny, who gathered comfortably. Ephraim then tried to get something going for QPR, but Clarke Carlisle, who really had been immense in the Burnley defence, again cleared any potential danger.
Just before the end of the first period of extra time, QPR had the ball in the net but it was disallowed for offside. The flag was raised so late that no-one knew what was going on. Rose was onside but Helguson, who was offside, made an attempt to go for the ball. The flag was only raised once Helguson became "active", so the goal (scored by Helguson) didn`t stand!
At the beginning of the 2nd period of extra time, Romone Rose had a shot from distance, but it was easily gathered by Jensen in the Burnley goal. The youngster was making a nuisance of himself.
Chris Eagles then lashed the ball over the crossbar, after a short corner taken by MacDonald. At least both sides were now looking to get a goal rather than see the tie drift into penalties.
Alberti conceded a free-kick, earning himself a booking, which Alan Mahon stepped up to take. Cerny gathered to prevent the ball going off for a corner. Then Jensen was called into action as Damien Delaney lashed the ball towards goal. Delaney`s shot took a deflection from a Burnley defender, sending Jensen the wrong way but somehow he put out his right hand and deflected the ball away.
QPR had a rare corner - the first in extra time - 5 minutes from time. Rodriguez headed the ball away; but then Helguson managed to get inside the box, only for Jensen to scramble the ball away before Helguson could get anything on the ball.
Burnley`s goal did seem to be living a bit of a charmed life at this stage, by all accounts!
Ephraim had a chance which flew over the crossbar, hitting the empty wooden seats behind the goal! At that stage, if a goal was coming, it seemed more likely to come from Rangers than Burnley. Then disaster struck!
Damion Stewart let the ball bounce and didn`t clear his lines, allowing Jay Rodriguez, Burnley through-and-through, to stick the ball in the back of the net. He picked up the loose ball ahead of the on-rushing Cerny and toe-poked it into the bottom left-hand corner of the goal, breaking Rangers` hearts as, for yet another year, we go crashing out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle!
Final whistle: Burnley 2 - 1 Queens Park Rangers
Burnley: Brian Jensen, Graham Alexander, Clarke Carlisle, Stephen Caldwell, Stephen Jordan, Wade Elliot, Chris McCann (Alan Mahon 20), Joey Gudjonsson (Alex MacDonald 84), Chris Eagles, Robbie Blake (Jay Rodriguez 69), Steven Thompson
QPR: Radek Cerny, Damien Delaney, Fitz Hall, Damion Stewart, Kaspars Gorkss, Mikele Leigertwood, Martin Rowlands, Gavin Mahon (Romone Rose 79), Emmanuel Ledesma (Hogan Ephraim 54), Matteo Alberti, Samuel Di Carmine (Heidar Helguson 85)