West Bromwich Albion 4 - Cardiff City 2
F A CUP ROUND THREE
This is the 99th time Albion have appeared at this stage of the FA Cup, 80 of these ties have been since the current format was adopted in 1925-26. The first of these was against Bristol City at The Hawthorns on Saturday 9th January 1926 in front of 33,295 spectators. Albion won 4-1; two goals from Tommy Glidden and two others from Joe Carter and John Byers. In total we’ve won 62 ties at this stage, a success rate of 63%.
CARDIFF CITY IN THE CUP
We’ve now met Cardiff City three times in the FA Cup, all in the Third Round. Uniquely, in 1945-46 the tie was decided over two legs. We drew 1-1 at Ninian Park with a goal from Eddie Connelly and won 4-0 at The Hawthorns when Ike Clarke and Bobbie Newsome both scored twice. On Saturday 7th January 1950, exactly sixty-two years ago, Cyril Williams and Gordon Inwood netted in a 2-2 away draw, but four days later the Baggies lost the replay 0-1. In the League Cup we’ve met only once, in 2007-08, when the Bluebirds matched today’s score, winning 4-2 at The Hawthorns in the Third Round, with Ishmael Miller scoring two consolation goals for the Baggies.
An under-strength Albion team, missing eight senior players through injury, won comfortably against Championship promotion contenders Cardiff City at The Hawthorns, but only after suffering a scare either side of half time. With Jerome Thomas and Paul Scharner added to the absentees, fit-again James Morrison and Gonzalo Jara Reyes returned to the starting line-up in midfield.
There was a strong shout for an Albion penalty early on when a low Morrison cross was blocked by an arm, but that was soon forgotten when the Baggies struck a 7th minute opener. A weak clearance was returned by Craig Dawson and found Peter Odemwingie in the clear and he coolly slotted the ball past the keeper. The home side struck again in the 33rd minute when an inswinging free kick from Nicky Shorey was headed home by Simon Cox. Game over? Certainly not, as in the 36th minute Shorey was robbed near the right hand corner flag and an immediate low cross was turned home by guess who, Rob Earnshaw, from just inside the six yard box. Almost immediately Graham Dorrans came close to restoring the two goal cushion when he struck a powerful shot which keeper Heaton did well to beat out.
In the 50th minute the game was all square and Earnshaw was involved again. This time he crossed from the right and substitute Mason turned before firing a cross-shot which ricocheted in off the foot of the opposite upright. Despite a rising shot from Shorey which clipped the top of the crossbar, this was a worrying period for Albion, as an under-strength Cardiff side threatened to bring about a major upset. Manager Hodgson made a brave decision to bring on two strikers, Tchoyi and Fortuné and it paid off straight away with the crucial 61st minute goal. Fortuné played the ball in to Simon Cox and the striker placed a superb 25 yard shot wide of the keeper and in off the inside of the left hand post. The home side were now playing with four strikers and it certainly made for an open game. The worry was that as quick as we created opportunities we missed them, with Dorrans, Morrison, firing into the side netting after rounding the keeper and Odemwingie, all at fault. In between the Bluebirds had their own half chances but failed to convert, before, in the 90th minute, we made the game safe. Peter Odemwingie was the provider when he pulled the ball back from the left goal-line and Simon Cox had the composure to side-foot firmly home for his hat-trick.
In the end the better side were victorious, but Cardiff City played well, despite having made ten changes from their last match. Having established a two goal lead our manager will be disappointed to concede twice, particularly the visitor’s first when we lost the ball through slipshod defending. The quality of Simon Cox’s second strike was good enough to win any game. He was the stand-out candidate for man-of-the-match. We showed in the last half hour how well we can play going forward, but also demonstrated why we’re currently a low scoring side with a host of misses. Incidentally, the opening goal appeared offside and Odemwingie seemed too embarrassed to celebrate; TV pictures were inconclusive. Why don’t we get breaks like this against Premier clubs? Finally, where were our fans? There were probably almost 2,500 visiting supporters, so the home sections struggled to top 10,000, despite the club reducing prices, particularly to season ticket holders. Poor show Baggies fans – you missed an entertaining game.
ALBION FORMRATE: GOOD
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: SIMON COX
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