A Simon Cox hat trick saw Baggies through as six goal thriller at The Hawthorns entertained a small crowd in the Third RoundWest Bromwich Albion secured its passage to the FA Cup Fourth Round with a 4-2 win over Cardiff 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 was 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 loan spells at Portsmouth and Birmingham recently ended.
Malky Mackay made ten changes to his side, a clear sign from the Bluebirds boss that their upcoming Carling Cup semifinal 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 – young striker Rudi Gestede fired over from 20 yards, while Lee Naylor saw a free kick easily saved by Ben Foster.
The home side began to fashion 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, Craig Dawson returned the ball 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 side 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.
WEST BROMWICH, U.K. -- 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 equaliszd 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 defense brilliantly and the ball found 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. Kiss should have sent the game to a replay 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' place in the next round.