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27 August 2014

Brewers beat Premiership QPR to set up Brighton clash

Adam McGurk's sumptuous 77th minute free kick created history for the Brewers as they claimed a Premiership scalp for the first time in their history dumping Queens Park Rangers out of this season's Capital One Cup.

Last season they were just minutes away from knocking Fulham out only to be denied late into extra time but this time there was to be no disappointment as Gary Rowett's men deservedly progressed to the third round for just the second time setting up a clash with Skybet Championship Brighton & Hove Albion in the next stage.

Gary Rowett put his faith in his young guns making four changes to Saturday's team. The back five remained unchanged but young midfielders Matty Palmer and Marcus Harness came into the side as did Alex MacDonald. Up front Dominic Knowles reclaimed his place in the starting line-up as Stuart Beavon dropped to the bench along with Robbie Weir and Callum McFadzean. New loan signing Jacob Blyth also made it onto the bench after joining the club earlier in the day from Leicester City.

Taarabt, the tormentor of the Brewers in the first half of last year's clash with Fulham, won an early free kick which Albion cleared with relative ease.

Albion's response was quick as Jon McLaughlin's long ball upfield controlled superbly on his chest by McGurk but his shot on the turn was too close to keeper Brian Murphy who saved comfortably.

Alex MacDonald was next to have the visiting keeper on his toes with six minutes on the clock as he latched onto a pass on the edge of the area nipping in front of his man and sending a low left foot shot across goal and just wide of the post.

The Premiership side soon regained control and on thirteen minutes Karl Henry tried his luck with a shot from distance which was blocked inside the box, the ball falling kindly to Taarabt on the edge of the box, the Moroccan pulling his low shot from the rebound just wide of the post. Again Albion responded quickly and McGurk got up well to knock down a long ball from Sharps and Knowles was in. the young striker took a touch but then fired his low shot straight at Murphy. A yard either side and Albion would have been ahead.

The Brewers were certainly not being fazed by their lofty opponents and Macdonald had another opportunity on 21 minutes as space opened up in the Rangers back line and the former Burnley midfielder went for the near post on his left and dragged his shot just wide. It was a very open game and the game soom switched to the other end where Taarabt and Junior Hoilett combined for the latter to rattle the crossbar with McLoughlin well beaten.

Albion's combative midfielder was also the first person to go in referee Paul Tierney's book, rather harshly, when he went to ground and seemed to win the ball off Taarabt but the referee deemed it a foul from behind and promptly showed MacDonald a card.

Defensively the Brewers were looking solid and Taarabt showed his frustrations to his team mates when he burst forward but had very little in the way of support and even when Rangers did get the ball in and around the Burton box there were defenders aplenty ready to get in a block and they also got frustrated with Matt Phillips firing a curling shot well over the bar as Albion denied them space to break them open.

MacDonald had a third chance to open the Brewers account just after the half hour but getting his shot onto his more favoured right foot he fired on target only for his shot to be blocked by the keeper with McGurk unable to gather in the rebound as it came back out.

Rangers showed an element of their class with a sweeping move that had Albion stretched on 36 minutes. A great crossfield ball found Hoilett in space on the left and after dinking the ball over Harness he had the goal at his mercy but failed to even force a save from McLaughlin driving his shot wildly over the bar.

It was Albion who went into the break in the ascendency with Marcus Harness seeing a late shot take a deflection off Dominic Knowles and wide of the goal.

Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 QPR

The Brewers made a change at half time in their midfield engine room. John Mousinho, also booked in the first half for a challenge on Taarabt, did not reappear for the second period and the fresh legs of Robbie Weir replaced him.

Taarabt was always looking to get on the ball and he fired in a low shot in the 48th minute trying to catch McLaughlin ny surprise. The albion keeper, however was able to watch it go wide of his post with a fair degree of comfort.

Burton continued to press and after good link up play between Knowles and Harness, McGurk had to stretch behind him to reach the cross and could only divert a difficult header over the bar.

Danny Simpson, the right full back was the first Rangers player to go in the book when he unceremoniously brought down MacDonald who had twisted and turned past him on the touchline. The resulting free kick had Rangers at sixes and sevens at the back and only a last ditch clearance prevented George Taft from bagging his first Albion goal.

Rangers were forced into a change just before the hour mark. Alejandro Faurlin pulled up with an injury after a challenge from Phil Edwards near the corner flag and the Hoops new signing from Norwich City, Leroy Fer was sent on to replace him. The Dutch World Cup midfielder slotting straight into the centre of midfield.

Albion were enjoying a good spell and yet again a chance fell to MacDonald on the edge of the box but he could not quite thread a shot through a crowded penalty area as the ball flew wide of the post. Another good chance not taken.

Looking increasingly comfortable against their Premiership opponents the Brewers continued to press forward and Matty Palmer was given the chance to shoot on goal on 73 minutes but Murphy was right behind the shot again. Taarabt tried to conjure something up for the visitors with a jinking run into the box but his left foot shot again failed to trouble McLoughlin.

Albion won a free kick on the edge of the box following a poorly timed challenge by Richard Dunne on Harness on 77 minutes and it proved to be the crucial moment of the game. If the Irish defender thought that the yellow card was going to suffice as his punishment he was sadly mistaken as Adam McGurk stepped up and whipped in a superb free kick that left Murphy floundering as it sailed into the back of the net.

Both sides instantly made a change as Blyth replaced the hard working Knowles and Rangers brought on the Wembley hero Bobby Zamora to try and create another piece of late magic.

Burton's last change saw goalscorer McGurk come off as Gary Rowett bolstered his midfield for the closing stages. Callum McFadzean slotted into the midfield for the closing stages.

As the game ticked into added time Zamora had a chance to get the visitors back into it but his shot curled wide of the post from the edge of the box.

The final seconds ticked oh so slowly for the Brewers but they held out without further alarms to begin celebrating one of the greatest results in the club's history.

Photos: Courtesy of J.Potts

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