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  • By Paul Lagan

Lots of pressure but no goals as QPR crash out of FA Cup to Watford 1-0 at Loftus Road

At Loftus Road 17,212

QPR 0 Watford 1 Photo by Paul Lagan

QPR didn’t deserve to crash out of the FA Cup in a pulsating match that saw Watford reach the FA Cup sixth round with a 1-0 victory tonight.

That they did was down to a single piece of Premier League class that was so often missing from visitors Watford at Loftus Road, as Etienne Capoue’s first-half injury time effort pierced the Rangers’s net.

The home side, while lacking the technical nous of their Hertfordshire opponents, more than made up for it in effort and desire - it just wasn't good enough.

Watford can be happy that their resolute defending nullified the home’s side’s primary weapon - Matt Smith.

The tall striker was central to the R’s attack, and the ball was played into him at every opportunity. But Miguel Britos and his fellow defenders were disciplined and strong and held firm.

A frantic opening 12 minutes saw both sides expend needless energy, for so little reward.

Smith and Watford’s centre-back Britos crashed to the ground following a clash of heads.

It took the medics four minutes to bandage up the QPR hitman before he and Britos returned to the game.

The home side continued to press on the counter attacks, and on 24 minutes had a half opening. Matt Smith failed to latch onto a smart left byline cross by Luke Freeman and the ball was eventually cleared after a spot of pinball in the Watford six-yard box.

Following a Freeman corner, the ball fell invitingly to Massimo Luongo and his quick take and volley from just outside of the Watford penalty area, on 30 minutes, inched wide of Heurelho Gomes’s right post.

Smith had a golden opportunity on 36 minutes, but, his unchallenged header from six yards out was misdirected wide of the goal.

Gomes found himself in the wars on 38 minutes, Smith scratched him across the face with a trailing hand when the duo challenged for a deep cross.

Gomes won the tussle but got a finger in the eye for his trouble.

A sublime counter-attack, a minute late by the Rs saw Freeman race clear, he passed to in-running Toni Leistner who tried a clipped right-footed volley with Gomes did well to tip away from goal form a corner.

Watford, against the run of play struck the first blow on the stroke of half time. A short corner saw Tom Cleverley’s miss-it a shot and the ball fell to Étienne Capoue on the edge of the QPR penalty box, and his right-footed volley went low and beyond the reach of Joe Lumley.

There were no changes at half-time by either side.

The pressure on goal was all towards the visitors with the tactic of slinging the ball onto the head.

Credit to Watford’s centre-back pairing of Britos and Kabasele who challenged, headed and won nearly every challenge presented to them when the ball was pinged in from the wings.

Kabasele was guilty of a a poor pass, on 61 minutes, allowing Nahki Wells the freedom to pick his spot but poor execution from the midfielder saw his curling left footer go wide of Gomes’s goal.

Andre Gray was unluckily that his goal was adjudged to have been offside, as replays showed the striker had timed his run perfectly and after rounding the goalkeeper, his clipped shot trickled over the goal line and should have counted.

QPR boss Steve McClaren made his first change - replacing Wells for Tomer Hamed on 71 minutes. Andre Gray came off for the visitors two minutes later, Gerald Deulofeu entered the fray along with Adrian Mariappa for ken Sema.

Rangers Wszolek then came off for Ebere Eze one 75 minutes.

With eight minutes on the clock, Watford replaced Cleverley with Domingos Quina

QPRs final sub saw Grantr Hall replaced by Bright Osayi-Kakay with five minutes left.

A equaliser was all but their but Darnell Furlong’s far post cross was met late by Leistner at the other post and any chance to remaining in the FA Cup evaporated for the west Londoners.

Teams: QPR: Joe Lumley, Darnell Furlong, Jake Bidwell, Grant Hall, Luke Freeman, Jordan Cousins, Matt Smith, Massimo Longoria, Powell Wszolek, Nahki Wells, Toni Leistner

Subs: Matt Ingram, Everett Eze, Josh Scowen, Ryan Manning, Tomer Hemed, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Osman Kakay

Watford: Gomes, Janmatt, Britos, Cleverley, Deeney, Selma, Gray Hughes, Holebas, Kabasele, Capoue

Subs: Dahlberg, Mariappa, Deulofeu, Doucoure, Penaranda, Quinn, Navarro

RefereeL Michael Olivier

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