|Preston North End v Queens Park Rangers|
Saturday, 4th August 2018 Kick-off 15:00
The Traveller has come – Preview
Tuesday, 8th Aug 2017 09:52 by Clive Whittingham
Can the wave of relief and happiness brought about by Saturday’s opening day win against Reading survive the annual farce that is QPR in the early rounds of cup competitions this evening?
Queens Park Rangers v Northampton Town
Zenith Data Systems Cup >>> Tuesday August 8, 2017 >>> Kick Off 19.45 >>> Weather – Cloudy but warm >>> Loftus Road, London, W12
You’ll excuse us for making our own fun.
It’s a nonsensical shame that so many clubs in this country see cup competitions as a distraction or hassle to be avoided rather than two of only three opportunities for domestic silverware. Every year clubs, including our own, duck out of these competitions early, deliberately, to concentrate all their energies on a league they have no chance of winning. The competitions are subsequently devalued, as if somebody looked at the pitiful attendances in the Copa Del Rey or Coppa Italia 25 years ago and thought “that looks great, let’s do that”.
But we’ve done that piece before.
We did consider going to town on the manner of the draw itself – made in the middle of June, via a dodgy internet feed from Bangkok at the behest of a fizzy drink manufacturer intent on using the competition to further its quest to pour sugar into teenagers under the laughable pretext that it’ll make them faster, more alert, healthier or anything other than wired, moody and suffering from headaches and tooth rot.
A draw that, at one stage, had Charlton away to Exeter and at home to Cheltenham in the same round on the same night; Forest Green Rovers away to both Wolves and MK Dons (tough assignment for their first every League Cup campaign); Wimbledon and Swindon playing each other despite both being unseeded and Oxford United not playing at all.
But then what’s the point? You only need look at the shambolic disaster that is the Checkatrade Trophy, and his ongoing mealy-mouthed defence of it, not to mention the laughably ineffective ‘fit and proper owners’ test, to know that Shaun Harvey is completely unfit for his office as CEO of the Football League. Using the decision to hold a cup draw for the likes of Carlisle United and Grimsby Town in Bangkok to keep some Thai nobody in a suit happy - while the supporters who attend the games and care about the clubs struggle to work out what the fuck is going on via a grainy Facebook feed with no sound - to prove that would be like shooting a fish in a barrel. A particularly large, pig-headed fish previously complicit with the shafting of local businesses and creditors in Leeds so that Ken Bates could keep his grubby hands and stubby fingers on their football club and continue sucking whatever blood was left from it.
And it also crossed our mind that we could simply collapse in a heap on the floor, weeping uncontrollably that not only do QPR insist on embarrassing themselves in the early rounds of this competition every bloody season, but that they only get to do it against the same four or five teams. The seeding means there are only about a dozen we can draw but every year the possibility of a first visit to AFC Wimbledon, or a pub crawl to the terraces at Bristol Rovers, are quickly dashed and in their place… well almost always Northampton and Swindon.
So, we went with the Ghostbusters sketch instead.
Paul Furlong strokes in an equaliser at the Sixfields Stadium against Northampton in early 2003 at the start of a run for both him and the team which would carry them to the Second Division play-off final.
Team News: Alex Baptiste signed on free transfer from Middlesbrough on Monday and is available for this one so expect him to see some action as he strives to get his fitness up to the level of the other players. For a squad that’s supposedly desperately in need of reinforcements there was a lot of first team salaried players not involved at all on Saturday (or only featuring very briefly) so expect to see game time for some or all of Matt Ingram, Steven Caulker, Jack Robinson, Darnell Furlong, Ryan Manning, Ariel Borysiuk, Sean Goss, Michael Petrasso, Matt Smith, Idrissa Sylla and Yeni Ngbakoto. However Nasser El Khayati and Jay Emmanuel Thomas are well out of the picture and Jordan Cousins and Grant Hall are permanently crocked.
Northampton also plan to make big changes to their side following the opening day loss at Shrewsbury, although manager Justin Edinburgh is hamstrung by a number of absentees. John-Joe O’Toole (cholera), Brendan Moloney (dysentery) and Shaun McWilliams (dodgy curry) are all missing along with Sam Foley who couldn’t get a babysitter and Sam Hoskins who’s had a row with the Mrs.
Elsewhere: Freed from the monotonous drudgery of the Championship, the inmates will no doubt respond by finding a variety of creative ways to lose to lower division teams so they can get back to the important business of not winning the league.
On the vulnerable list: Preston Knob End away at Accrington, Brentford away at Wimbledon and what’s left of Barnsley at home to Morecambe.
Barry Redchapp says this season will be “absolutely impossible” for the Birmingham Bad Knees unless he’s allowed to spend lots more money on lots more players immediately. Having demoralised the players he already has at his disposal by saying they’re not good enough, expect all manner of weird and wonderful “what can I do, you’ll have to ask the chairman” team selections this evening as they host Crawley Town.
Neil Warnock had impressive cup pedigree at the Sheffield Red Stripes but paid little attention to the knockouts while at QPR. Portsmouth are the visitors to Cardiff tonight on his Eighth Annual Farewell Tour.
They settled on Charlton away to Exeter and Forest Green at home to MK Dons in the end after initially drawing the Addicks additionally at home to Cheltenham and the league’s newest team at Sporting Wolverhampton. Wolves, in the end, host Yeovil while Tarquin and Rupert are watering the horses ahead of a trip to Wycombe.
Sheffield Owls at home to Chesterfield (where Clint Hill is currently training looking for a contract), The Trees at home to Shrewsbury and Borussia Norwich at home to Swindon all have a coupon-busting look to them. Derby Sheep are away to Grimsby Fish.
Five further ties tomorrow including Big Racist John and the Boys at Colchester and the Champions of Europe at home to Port Vale, then one on Thursday as Bury host Basket Case Sunderland.
Referee: Charles Breakspear, an experienced assistant referee in the Football League, is the main man with the whistle on Tuesday. It’s his second visit to Loftus Road as a referee, his first coming in a narrow 1-0 win against Ipswich two seasons back which he made rather a pig’s ear of. Details on that and his recent stats here.
QPR: Rangers overcame Swindon on penalties after a 2-2 draw and beat Rochdale 2-1 the round after before bowing out to Sunderland in this competition last season. That was the first time Rangers had reached the third round of the League Cup since being knocked out at that stage as a Premier League side by Reading in 2012 and followed three successive seasons of second round exits at the hands of Carlisle (1-2), Burton (0-1) and Swindon (0-2). It was the first time since 2009 that Rangers have made it to a third tie in this competition (Exeter 5-0, Accrington 2-1, Chelsea 1-0). They haven’t been to round four since 2008 when they beat Swindon 3-2, Carlisle 4-0, Villa 1-0 and then lost 1-0 at Man Utd. The last time Rangers were in round five was a 5-2 loss at Nottingham Forest in 1988/89, two years after they’d been beaten in the final by Oxford.
Prediction: Although there’s no round of the Art of Football’s Prediction League for the cup, our reigning champion Southend_Rsss has kindly offered us some input anyway…
"Saturday was a very pleasing result that not many had expected, including myself. It was nice to see things click across the middle of the park and it made for a very enjoyable afternoon indeed. However as normal, having a cup game so soon after the first game of the season will inevitably bring changes to the team. I still have faith that we will be too strong even with a second string so I’ll go for the same final score line against Reading….”
Craig’s Prediction: QPR 2-0 Northampton. Scorer – Idrissa Sylla
LFW’s Prediction: QPR 2-0 Northampton. Scorer – Yeni Ngbakoto
The Twitter @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
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