Capital One Cup 2nd Round Report: QPR 0 Swindon Town 2

Swindon Town travelled to QPR in the hope that a Capital One Cup Second Round victory would provide Mark Cooper’s fledgling managerial career at the County Ground with a much needed boost. Calvin Hothi was at Loftus Road to witness a superb Town victory over the Championship title favourites… 

Being one of the first to take my seat at Loftus Road, it allowed me to have a good look at the empty stadium. Loftus Road is a proper football ground, a ground I would one day like the County Ground to look a little like. That aside I travelled to London without much hope of a win. I predicted that Town would give the recently relegated side a good run for their money, but eventually come out on the wrong side of a 2-0, 3-0 deficit. Fans sat around me had all seemed to plump for the floodgates to open and that our young Robins side would come out beaten by 5 or 6 goals.

QPR kicked us off and for the first 15 minutes Swindon looked the more attacking side. They controlled the first moments with good passing football, plus the back line along with Foderingham kept their cool and stuck with passing along the back; even with Charlie Austin and Bobby Zamora breathing down their necks.

The first chance of the game occurred in the third minute, tricky little Alex Pritchard who was twisting and turning defenders was brought down just outside the box. He brushed himself off to take the set piece and sent it spinning just over the bar. Just three minutes later and Nile Ranger was found wanting too much time in the box and was challenged after not being able to get the ball out of his feet when there was time to shoot. The QPR midfield of Alejandro Faurlin and Jermaine Jenas insisted on sitting deep allowing us time and space to work, which is exactly what Mark Cooper would have wanted as this allowed his side to have more freedom. On 18 minutes, Alex Smith floated a free kick too far into the area and bounced out for a goal kick with no one able to latch onto the former Fulham man ball.

Then QPR started to settle into the game and begin to have some more control, Jermaine Jenas powered one wide to the left of Wes Foderingham’s goal before Alejandro Faurlin sent a free kick wide after Wright-Phillips was brought down by Massimo Luongo. On the half hour mark Wright-Phillips managed to wriggle past a couple of Town challenges before blasting a very poor effort wide when there were many in better positions to shoot.

Swindon continued to ride the storm and defend well with brilliant challenges for Yaser Kasim and Nathan Byrne stopping their attack in dangerous areas. A few moments later Simpson fired across a good looking ball for the R’s and with Foderingham deciding to not come for it, Bobby Zamora latched on to the cross but hit the side netting with his volley.

On 38 minutes the break through came, after the excellent Pritchard won a corner. Ryan Harley managed to brilliantly get it back to the Spurs loanee after it was taken and he managed to put a ball in across the box that was met by the foot of Nile Ranger. A goal that most feel we deserved and a goal that filled the team with confidence especially Ranger who I thought was looking scared to shoot from efforts before hand. A worrying sight was Alex Smith having to be substituted and returned to the bench on crutches.

The teams came back out for the second period and the Robins new exactly what to expect, an onslaught from the former Premier League side. Faurlin sent an effort wide before Ryan Mason’s soft header was caught by Murphy. Harry Redknapp then opted to take off Diakite and Zamora and replace them with Mo Shariff and the threatening Andy Johnson – a former transfer target of Town chairman Jed McCrory.

Charlie Austin fortunately headed wide from a free kick before Cooper replaced Ryan Harley with Louis Thompson. Miles Storey then replaced a very tired looking but well played Ranger in the 65th minute, which was expected after playing the full match against Gillingham at the weekend. A little 5 minute spell of possession gifted excellent three opportunities for Town but Louis Thompson, Miles Storey and Nathan Thompson couldn’t take advantage of either. Another spell of defending for Town followed which saw Shariff and Wright-Phillips denied by a superb Foderingham. Austin had managed to bundle the ball into the net but their faces went from joy to blushes after realising the linesman had his flag raised, much the the anguish of the home support.

The final 10 minutes contained the largest onslaught of all from QPR, firstly Yun put a brilliant ball across the box that Andy Johnson couldn’t get on the end of and at this point Town were definitely riding their luck, a bit too much for my liking. At this point Alex Pritchard looked knackered and Cooper made the decision to swap him for forward MIles Storey and play him on the right wing.

Soon after, a fantastic challenge from Kasim brought down Wright-Phillips in the box but the ref rightly judged the Iraqi had won the ball fairly, much to the distaste of the R’s fans. As well as Storey did to win a corner, Kasim cancelled it out by giving away a silly free kick while the Robins tried to keep possession. QPR’s last substitution of the game saw Faurlin give way for Tom Hitchock.

All eyes were on the fourth official now and the whole away stand groaned when the raised board contained five minutes of injury time. Then suddenly in the first of the added minutes, a sloppy ball from Onouha gifted possession to Alex Pritchard in a brilliant area and the Spurs loanee who had been brilliant all match managed to muster the strength and legs to turn Clint Hill more than once and fire goalbound. QPR ‘keeper Murphy got a hand to the effort but it didn’t stop the ball trickling in to send the Swindon fans into raptures.

The scenes that followed were amazing, you could see on the faces of the players their passion and want to play for the Swindon badge. Not much more happened after the second goal, Foderingham had to stay awake to make magnificent stops to deny Johnson and Shariff before the inevitable whistle blew.

The whole team got a standing ovation from the crowd, as did Mark Cooper. The game was a real test of character for our young Robins side and a physical one at that, all players put a shift in and everyone of them came of the pitch knackered. I could nominate the whole team for man of the match but in the end I opted to go for a double one, I gave it to Kasim and Pritchard who I thought were instrumental along with the back line and Foderingham in winning the game. Alex Pritchard gave his all for the whole 90 minutes and would have been glad to see his bed after that game. Another cup upset to add to the collection and hope to see you all at Crewe on Saturday.

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