STEVE Clarke has described tonight’s harsh 1-0 FA Cup third-round defeat by QPR as a game too far for his injury-hit squad.
But the Baggies boss admitted his men paid the penalty for switching off at the corner that Jay Bothroyd headed Rangers’ 76th-minute winner from.
Albion dominated the majority of the Hawthorns replay – their seventh game in just over three weeks – but they could not find a way past England international Rob Green.
“It is disappointing,” said Clarke.
“It’s a competition we wanted to stay in as long as possible.
“I think on the night we had the better chances and Rob Green made a few decent saves.
“We went to sleep on a set-play and you get punished for that at this level.
“We tried hard.
“The squad has been stretched in recent weeks and the boys that have gone in have done their best.
“They’ve tried hard, they’ve worked.
“Maybe the little bit of luck we were carrying a few weeks ago has deserted us a little bit.
“But all we can do is knuckle down and get on with it.”
The Baggies boss made four changes to the starting XI that lost 3-2 in Saturday’s Barclays Premier League defeat at Reading.
Two were enforced as he felt he could not risk playing Jonas Olsson for a second time in four days after just returning from injury, while skipper Chris Brunt was ruled out due to illness.
“I couldn’t risk Jonas after he’d been out for so long by playing him in two games in such a short space of time,” Clarke added.
“We have other important games coming up.
“Chris Brunt has the flu.
“The squad has really been stretched to the limit over the last six weeks and we’re not quite getting the breaks we need at the moment.
“But as a group we know what we’re trying to do.
“It’s a long season and we’re going to have moments when things don’t go particular well for us.
“This is one of those moments.
“But we just have to dig in, work hard, and what better game to try and turn it around in than Aston Villa at the weekend.
“I don’t think the players showed a big hangover from the weekend.
“We had good control for the majority of the game and created the better chances.
“We played some decent stuff without really having a spark.
“It was a game without a spark.
"It couldn’t have been a great spectacle on a cold night.
“If there was any team trying to push to win it, it was us, and we got done by falling asleep on a set play.
“Otherwise I think we’d still be playing.”