FA Cup Fourth Round
QPR 1 Sheffield Wednesday 2
Rangers bowed lamely out of the FA Cup with a performance which got what it deserved.
They trailed at the interval and really only made a game of it after Bright Osayi-samuel had come off the bench to finally stretch the visitors. But they did not do enough to merit a replay at Hillsborough.
The first half goal they conceded just before the break was abject and in keeping with a generally sorry display.
It came after a shocking switch-off at a throw-in. Wednesday full-back Morgan Fox could hardly believe his luck as Sam Hutchinson’s throw found him in acres of unmarked space and with a clear stroll towards the six yard box.
His low shot gave Joe Lumley little chance, even if the keeper did get a touch.
Nahki Wells – the subject of much transfer speculation - came off the bench to capitalise of a goalkeeping blunder in injury time. Cameron Dawson’s clearance went straight to the striker and he needed no second invitation.
But the Owls were already 2-0 up by then, having scored a breakaway goal through Sam Winnall as the match entered its last knockings.
Rangers surrendered the initiative from the start. They only had an off-target shot from Marc Pugh to look back on with any sense of pride.
The Owls beat Premier League Brighton 1-0 away in the last round and Garry Monk’s side looked the more motivated of the two during an underwhelming first half which was at least enlivened by the presence of 3,000 Wednesday fans.
Hoops boss Mark Warburton gave a first start to Jack Clarke, on loan from Spurs, but he cut a lightweight figure on the right flank and it was only with the arrival of Osayi-Samuel after 66 minutes that Rangers got their act together.
Soon the winger was causing problems for the Owls and setting up a good chance for Ilias Chair.
And with the tempo suddenly lifted, Jordan Hugill went close before Wells entered the fray to a rousing reception from home fans – who are anxious to keep hold of the Burnley striker on loan.
But he could not quite fashion a recovery and perhaps we should not be so surprised. It’s fair to say that QPR and the FA Cup have made uneasy bedfellows for as long as anyone can remember – certainly since the turn of the century.
The memory of the 1982 final has long disappeared from the rear view mirror and there are more shudders than pangs of excitement about the cup for fans who probably still break out in a cold sweat at the mere thought of Vauxhall Motors.
These are relatively heady days with Rangers having won three of their previous five FA Cup ties before this tie – more than in their 26 previous fixtures in the famous old competition.
The 5-1 rout of Swansea City in the last round was a definite break from the past but this felt like a reversion to type.
All four west London clubs made it to the fourth round this year and the other three will hope to succeed where Rangers failed. Chelsea are at Hull City, Brentford are at home to Leicester City in a lunchtime kick-off and Fulham are at Manchester City on Sunday.
Line-up: Lumley – Kane, Leistner, Masterson, Manning – Pugh, Ball – Clarke (Osayi-Samuel 66), Eze, Chair (Wells 72) - Hugill. Subs not used: Barnes, Hall, Cameron, Amos, Shodipo