They talk about the magic of the FA Cup. It is David versus Goliarth, the minnows versus the giants. Everyone loves a cup upset.
Loftus Road was packed to the rafters for the visit of lowly MK Dons to the home of QPR, the Premiership ‘fancy dans’. Rangers had sensibly reduced their ticket prices and the visitors had sold out their allocation, making this a real sense of occasion.
Harry had shuffled his pack, rung the changes and gave his second string players a run out, very mindful of the upcoming visit of Manchester City on Tuesday. It was very clear as to where his priorities lay, but that said there was still much quality in the ranks and enough players with a point to prove.
The start was all important. Rangers tore into their red shirted opponents and inside a minute the ball was in the net, as DJ Campbell volleyed home. The home supporters were off their feet, only to be denied by the linesman’s flag. The action swung up the other end, a corner to MK Dons, a sliced deflection into his own net by Traore, one nil to the minnows. Was this a turning point in only the first few minutes of the match?
Rangers were not to be deterred, they won their tackles, peppered the MK goal but just could not score. And then as the first half was drawing to a close, disaster struck for Rangers. Ferdinand dawdled allowing the ball to float over his head, Lowe pounced, two nil to the minnows. Two efforts on target, two goals.
Could Harry work his magic in the interval? Within ten minutes of the restart it was four nil. Mk Dons sprung the offside trap and Harley slotted home and as the away fans chanted “we want four” their players duly obliged, Potter drilling home as Rangers failed to clear a corner.
The Rangers faithful turned on their shellshocked players with chants of “this is embarrassing”. The game was up, there was no way back. Mk Dons knocked the ball around like European champions, Rangers stuttered, stumbled and misplaced passes like a side rooted to the bottom of the Premiership, which is exactly what they are.
Rangers did manage two late consolations through a Bothroyd header and a Fabio volley, but all too little too late.
It was MK Dons’ day, their deserving layers acknowledging their noisy support at the final whistle. Rangers trudged off to derision and boos, with the serious issue of survival in the Premiership and the visit of the current champions on tuesday to focus the mind.
But today was all about the cup, with it’s penchant for the unpredictable and the shock. This was the turn of MK Dons and they seized their opportunity with relish. As much as Rangers will be disappointed, the tradition and magic of the FA Cup is alive and well in West London tonight.