The penalty that wasn't given, the two that were missed and Paul Warne's pride and frustration ... the story of QPR 1 Rotherham United 1 as the Millers exit the FA Cup in a shoot-out

The penalty that wasn't given, the two that were missed and Paul Warne's pride and frustration ... the story of QPR 1 Rotherham United 1 as the Millers exit the FA Cup in a shoot-out

By Paul Davis | 09/01/2022

The penalty that wasn't given, the two that were missed and Paul Warne's pride and frustration ... the story of QPR 1 Rotherham United 1 as the Millers exit the FA Cup in a shoot-out
Chiedozie Ogbene is consoled by Richard Wood. Pictures by Jim Brailsford

 

"CHIEO, Chieo, Chieo ..."

Rotherham United's wing-back had just seen his penalty - the 18th of an epic shoot-out - saved and the Millers were out of the FA Cup.

But it didn't matter, not really. Paul Warne's men had gone toe to toe with one of the pace-setters in the division above in a third-round clash full of ebb and flow, energy and fight, excitement and fortitude.

It was a win for Queens Park Rangers but it could so easily have been one for Rotherham.

The forgiveness for Chiedozie Ogbene was instant and the show of support heartfelt.

"Chieo, Chieo, Chieo," chanted the near-700-strong contingent of travelling fans gathered high in the upper tier of the away end at Loftus Road as the player trooped towards them to proffer his contrition.

They'd out-sung home followers in much the same way as the Millers had outplayed the home side for long spells as top of League One ran full pelt into fifth place in the Championship on a rainswept Saturday in West London.

"I'm really proud of my players," said manager Warne. "I'm a little bit emotional now if I'm honest because I thought they gave everything they could to win a game against the team who are flying in the Champ.

"You can't knock our lads’ effort and their heart and their desire. Goodness me, I'm absolutely cliche-ing it up! It was a good performance from us. I don't know how many people gave us a chance coming here.

"It was end to end. One minute, we had a corner, they cleared it; they won a corner and we cleared it; then we won a corner and so on and so on. I'm really pleased with loads of individuals. We've played 120 minutes as fast as we can.

"I just feel disappointed that it might have been taken off us ..."

And with that last sentence the manager opened up a spot-kick debate that had nothing to do with the shoot-out.

THE MATCH

Even QPR thought it should have been given.

"It is a penalty," Warne declared. "I've seen it back so I can definitely say that with complete confidence. If it isn't a penalty, then the ref should book my player for diving. The linesman is bang up with play.

"Their bench have said it's a penalty. As I'm coming off, two of their players are telling me that it was a penalty. One of their members of staff apologised and said it's a penalty.

"Unfortunately, that doesn't help us. It doesn't help me when I later speak to my chairman who wants to win every game, it doesn't help the fans who have travelled all the way down here and it doesn't help my dressing room."

With just three minutes of extra time left on the clock and the scores locked at 1-1, Ogbene flew into the opposing box where his high-speed progress was checked by Joann Barbet taking body not ball.

Referee Dean Whitestone had been superb throughout but now he made his only big mistake as he ignored Millers screams for justice while the culprit tried the old trick of feigning injury to deflect from his foul.

After a first half edged by QPR, the contest was carried by the Millers until a late, desperate push from Rangers who were seeking to cancel out Michael Ihiekwe's super-smooth, 99th-minute opener.

Josh Vickers saved from QPR's Andre Gray and Charlie Austin before the break, after which opportunities mounted up for the visitors.

Rotherham take the lead

Michael Smith headed wide, Ihiekwe was denied by a crucial block, Dan Barlaser skidded an effort past the post, Josh Kayode's header was booted off the line by Barbet and Hakeem Odoffin arrowed in a shot that was kept out by the stung hands of Jordan Archer.

Against that, Gray had to score at the back post but didn't and Vickers pulled off the save of the day to thwart Lyndon Dykes from point-blank range.

"I thought the longer the game went on, the fitter and stronger we were," Warne said. "We made changes, we went for it. The subs came on and had a really good impact."

As the clash headed into extra time, Kayode flashed a header wide and Ollie Rathbone danced forward and drove wide.

A goal had long been coming and it duly arrived as centre-half Ihiekwe controlled Wes Harding's cross and, showing technique of which a striker would have been proud, opened up his chest and coolly picked his bottom-corner spot with perfect precision.

Jamie Lindsay and Gray traded shots and only six minutes remained when Dykes' header was parried by Vickers only to bounce down off the crossbar and over the line.

So ... to the shoot-out, taking place at the QPR end where Millers takers endured sustained heckling from the crowd as they stepped up for their moment of truth.

Every player from both teams hit the target, most of them giving the keepers no chance, but Harding's and Ogbene's efforts lacked the power to get past Archer and Rotherham were cruelly denied a first fourth-round spot in 20 years.

"We've had a right go but it just wasn't enough," Warne said. "We were really good, really disciplined."

He managed to retain a degree of humour, reflecting on how veteran defender Richard Wood and keeper Vickers would have been next up had Ogbene managed to extend the sudden-death drama.

"I asked Woody how he was after 60 minutes and he said he felt fine," the boss said, "Then he had to play another 30 plus another 30 in extra time which obviously entertained me no end.

"Fortunately we didn't have to see him take a penalty in the shoot-out. That would have been fearful for me!"

THAT DECISION

The miserable irony was lost on no-one: the player who should have been awarded the spot-kick that would have most likely seen the lottery avoided was the one who failed with the fateful last attempt.

Warne couldn't let it go.

"The big talking point for me is the Chieo penalty," he said. "That's the key moment. That's the bit that gripes me. It happened at virtually the end of extra time. That would have won it for us and took us through.

"There is a little bit of a bitter taste in my mouth. I'm disappointed for the lads because I've asked them to make memories.

It would have been lovely to go through, draw a big club and have Woody’s kids see him play against Tottenham or Icky’s son see his dad play at Liverpool. I feel like the lads have been robbed of that chance and they don't deserve it."

At the end, Wood wrapped his muscular skipper's arms round Ogbene, absolving his gutted teammate of any blame.

Warne said: "I think the fans will appreciate how well the lads played. They all stayed and clapped them off, which was good."

Supporters raised their voices in the name of one man but the salute was intended for the entire team.

"Chieo, Chieo, Chieo ..."

****************************

THE SHOOT-OUT

QPR: Dykes - scored

Millers: Smith - scored

QPR: Johansen - scored

Millers: Rathbone - scored

QPR: Gray - scored

Millers: Harding - SAVED

QPR: Dozzell - SAVED

Millers: Kayode - scored

QPR: Adomah - scored

Millers: Odoffin - scored

QPR: Amos - scored

Millers: Lindsay - scored

QPR: Barbet - scored

Millers: Bola - scored

QPR: Dunne - scored

Millers: Ihiekwe - scored

QPR: Dickie - scored

Millers: Ogbene - SAVED

QPR win 8-7

****************************

Goals: Ihiekwe 99 (Rotherham); Dykes 114 (QPR)

Attendance: 7,157 (685)

Millers

Formation: 3-5-2

Josh Vickers: 8

Reliable throughout and pulled off a stunning save in the second half.

Rarmani Edmonds-Green: 8

Hardly put a foot wrong. Read the game so well that he sometimes spotted danger before it even occurred. Some telling interceptions and tackles.

Richard Wood: 7

Up against good strikers but not found wanting. Relished the battle and was a big physical presence.

Michael Ihiekwe: 8

Defended well and took his goal like a stop centre-half. An impressive display. Did well in both boxes.

Wes Harding: 7

Crossed well and showed good energy as a wing-back, then slotted in decently at centre-half when the Millers pepped things up in the second half.

Kieran Sadlier: 6

A big chance for him to stake a claim for the attacking midfield position he likes but he didn't really take it. Didn't make the impression going forward that he would have wanted.

Dan Barlaser: 7

Produced some of his trademark silky passing, was assured in possession and wasn't scared to put himself about. League One's Player of the Month showed he can do it against Championship opposition.

Ollie Rathbone: 8

Put in a huge shift. Pressed hard, won possession and was a real threat when he ran with the ball at his feet. Non-stop motion.

Shane Ferguson: 7

Quality crossing, hardly wasted a pass. Just the usual then.

Michael Smith: 8

Gave the QPR backline plenty to think about. A force across the full width of the pitch.

Will Grigg: 6

One or two moments of class. Brought others into play very well but didn’t look like scoring.

The subs

Chiedozie Ogbene (for Edmonds-Green 59): 8

Turned the game in Rotherham's favour when he came on. You had to feel for him when he suffered in the shoot-out.

Jamie Lindsay (for Sadlier 59): 7

Got among the opposition and QPR didn't like it. An influence in both halves of the pitch.

Josh Kayode (for Grigg 65): 8

Starting to look a lot like the Kayode we all hoped he could be. Great work rate and a goal threat. His best showing so far in a Millers shirt.

Hakeem Odoffin (for Barlaser 79):  6

No frills, no fuss, no worries. A solid contribution.

Tolaji Bola (for Ferguson 79): 6

Keen to get forward, willing to run back. Showed pace and commitment.

Not used: Viktor Johansson, Angus MacDonald, Joe Mattock, Freddie Ladapo.

QPR (3-5-2): Jordan Archer 6; Rob Dickie 7, Jimmy Dunne 7, Yoann Barbet 7; Albert Odomah 8, Dominic Ball 6 (Luke Amos 71), Stefan Johansen 7, George Thomas 7 (Andre Dozzell 71, 6), Lee Wallace 6 (Moses Odubajo 59, 6, Aaron Drewe 90, 6); Andre Gray 6, Charlie Austin 6 (Lyndon Dykes 59, 7). Subs not used: Joe Walsh, Sam Field, Stephen Duke-McKenna, Sinclair Armstrong.

Referee: Dean Whitestone (Northamptonshire): 8

Opposition view

"We have to be better. Rotherham are very good at what they do. It is very hard to get rhythm and tempo in your game against them.

"I think we found ourselves drawn into their game – and they will undoubtedly be better at their game than we are at their game.

"For me, it was a very disappointing second period and the same going into extra time. We have to make better decisions.

"But the positive is we found a way even when we were way below our best and we were sloppy Today we looked an average team and we have to learn from it."

- QPR boss Mark Warburton

The stats

Possession: QPR 54 per cent, Millers 46 pc

Goal attempts: QPR 20, Millers 17

On target: QPR 7, Millers 4

Corners: QPR 10, Millers 8

Fouls: QPR 18, Millers 8

Final word

A huge effort that deserved a different outcome.