West Brom 4-2 Cardiff City: Simon Cox hat-trick sees Premier League side progress at Bluebirds' expense in FA Cup Third Round

The Hawthorns plays host to a six-goal thriller as hosts win their first game in six to knock Championship side out of the competition despite second half fightback
West Bromwich Albion secured their passage to the FA Cup Fourth Round with a 4-2 win over Cardiff City in a thoroughly entertaining cup tie at the Hawthorns.

The game’s opening goal was slightly controversial but the five that followed it less so as Simon Cox grabbed a hat-trick to seal Albion’s place in the next round, with his second goal crashing in from 25 yards.

Despite a mounting injury list Roy Hodgson only made two changes from the side that were beaten at Tottenham. Gonzalo Jara and James Morrison came in for the injured pair of Jerome Thomas and Paul Scharner. Joe Mattock and Chris Wood returned to the matchday squad after recent loan spells at Portsmouth and Birmingham.

Malky Mackay made 10 changes to his side which was a clear sign from the Bluebirds boss that the League Cup is much more important to him. Only Darcy Blake survived from the 3-1 victory over Reading, but one player who returned for Cardiff was former Baggie Robert Earnshaw after recovering from a recent spell on the sidelines.

Both sides started the game brightly with the visitors having the first two chances of the game, albeit half chances. The first fell to young striker Rudi Gestede, he held off the challenge of Dawson and sent a 20 yard strike just over Ben Foster’s crossbar.

Minutes later the Bluebirds were awarded a free kick on the right edge of the penalty area and full back Lee Naylor fired a left foot shot towards goal, but Foster was able to claim easily.

The home side began to work themselves some good chances and took the lead in the seventh minute but they did get a little bit of fortune. As the visitors cleared an Albion set piece the ball was returned by Craig Dawson to Odemwingie, the Nigerian looked offside but was actually being played on by Naylor at left back and the striker calmly fired past Tom Heaton for his fifth goal of the season.

The much-changed visitors tried to get themselves back into the game but were unable to create any clear-cut chances, and in the 35th minute they were punished again as the Baggies doubled their lead. Cox was brought down on the right wing which enabled Nicky Shorey to deliver a pinpoint free kick onto Cox’s head for the striker to nod home his second goal of the season.

That could have killed off the visitors but it seemed to spark them into life and minutes later they were back in the game as former Baggie striker Earnshaw struck from six yards out. Filip Kiss robbed Shorey in the left back position and delivered a low cross along the six yard box from the right and the Welshman evaded his marker to side foot the ball home.

Both sides were now full of confidence and the chances kept coming as Graham Dorrans was denied by a brilliant save from Heaton. Cox and George Thorne combined to fashion a chance for the midfielder but the Scot's powerful strike from the edge of the area was parried away to safety.

The second half began in a similar fashion to the way the first had finished with both sides confident they could still win the game, and after just six minutes of the second period the game was level again as substitute Joe Mason equalised for the visitors. The young striker controlled a low cross from Earnshaw, his touch took him away from McAuley and he fired home from a tight angle and through Foster’s legs.

The visitors were in the ascendancy for the first time in the game but they were soon behind again thanks to a wonder strike from Cox. Substitute Marc-Antoine Fortune hassled the Cardiff defence brilliantly and the ball eventually found its way to Cox who fired a sensational volley in off the post and into the back of the net from 25 yards.

Albion had chances to further extend their lead in the closing parts of the game but first Fortune, then Morrison and finally Cox all missed excellent opportunities. Filip Kiss should have sent the game to a reply when he met a Craig Conway cross but he headed straight at Foster.

The game was over in the 90th minute when Cox met a low left wing cross to tap his third and Albion's fourth to seal the Baggies safe passage to the next round.

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