West Ham crash out of FA Cup with another dreadful performance
PUBLISHED: 17:09 25 January 2020 | UPDATED: 17:09 25 January 2020
PA Wire/PA Images
Former Hammers boss returned to the London Stadium to mastermind West Brom’s FA Cup win
FA Cup Fourth Round
West Ham United 0 West Bromwich Albion 1
The Claret & Army can pack away their rosettes and rattles for another year following this woeful West Ham United display at the London Stadium, where Championship leaders West Bromwich Albion comfortably secured their place in Monday's FA Cup fifth round draw.
It was an embarrassing exit for David Moyes Premier League side, who failed hit a single shot on target until the dying minutes, once the battling Baggies had been reduced to ten men following Semi Ajayi's dismissal.
Connor Townsend's ninth-minute screamer - his first-ever goal in Albion colours - was enough to settle the tie and Baggies boss Slaven Bilić could even have beaten his former club by an even greater winning margin had his strikers shown more composure in front of goal.
Thanks to the heroics of Hammers goalkeeping legend, Phil Parkes, second-tier West Ham had knocked out top-flight Albion at the third round stage on their way to FA Cup glory, in 1980.
And 40 years on - roles reversed - with the East End demanding a long-overdue return to Wembley, Moyes only made four changes to the side that had slumped to a forlorn 4-1 defeat at Leicester City on Wednesday evening as Albian Ajeti, Pablo Fornals, Carlos Sánchez and Fabián Balbuena came in for the injured duo of Robert Snodgrass and Arthur Masuaku, while Angelo Ogbonna and Mark Noble were rested on the bench alongside 21-year-old, Dan Kemp.
But despite still fielding an experienced starting line-up, the dejected Scot could only look on helplessly from the side-lines at a West Ham team devoid of both confidence and creativity.
Despite surprisingly losing to Stoke City on Monday evening, the Baggies still came into this cup-tie at the top of the Championship tree, one point ahead of Leeds United with 18 games left to play.
With his main focus on promotion, Bilić made wholesale changes to the side that had lost at The Hawthorns as only Townsend, Matt Phillips and Ahmed Hegazi retained their shirts but those energised eight new faces wasted no time showing their Croatian boss just what they are capable of, too.
Kyle Edwards let fly with an awkward 18-yarder that Darren Randolph did well to steer around the base of his right-hand post and that was an early signal of the visitors' intentions.
Indeed, with nine minutes on the clock, facing towards his own goal, Sánchez carelessly hit his attempted pass onto Issa Diop's shin and collecting the ricochet, Townsend fired an unstoppable 20-yarder beyond the groping glove of the flying Randolph and inside the 'keeper's left post.
Having fallen behind so quickly, it could have got yet worse for the Premier League strugglers, when an over-excited Charlie Austin wastefully ignored better options to fire across goal and, shortly afterwards Filip Krovinović glanced his header just inches wide.
Yielding possession far too easily, the Hammers rarely threatened although Declan Rice found time to fire an angled shot wide, while the breaking Sebastién Haller was foiled by a brilliant, barnstorming last-ditch tackle from Hegazi.
Haller was in the wars again, when the consequently cautioned duo of Gareth Barry and Ajayi both barged him over illegally, while the unmarked Austin was guilty of another glaring miss when he nodded wide from 10 yards to the disbelief of Bilić in his technical area.
In the closing moments of what had been a futile first-half for the Hammers, Rice sent another angled shot past the far post of the hitherto redundant Jonathan Bond, who had not been forced into a single save during those opening 45 minutes.
Desperate testing times called for desperate Moyes measures and the Hammers boss made a triple switch at the break as Michail Antonio, Noble and Ogbonna put Sánchez, Balbuena and Fornals out of their first-half misery.
Still the Baggies attacked, though and Krovinović sent an early shot wide before Austin - who would soon see Diop booked for clattering him - headed straight into Randolph's clutches when he should, once again, have done better.
At the other end, Antonio was at least making some purposeful runs, while Ajeti's first touch completely deserted him and Bond raced from his line to gather the mis-controlled ball, before Haller then dragged an angled shot beyond the far post.
The Claret & Blue natives in the crowd of 58,911 - the club's biggest-ever FA Cup attendance - were growing restless by their team's failure to pass, yet alone finish but midway through the second period, Ajeti almost brought them onside with a jack-knife header that drifted inches wide of Bond's left upright.
The Swiss international also nodded one onto the roof of the Baggies net and, breaking upfield with a quarter-hour remaining, Ajeti was felled by Ajayi, whose second yellow card duly reduced Albion to ten men.
Desperately trying to force a replay, Lanzini unleased a low 18-yarder that scorched the wrong side of the post before Noble embarked on a mazy run that climaxed with another long-ranger that curled inches wide.
Ogbonna also rifled a wayward shot through a crowded six-yard box ahead of Antonio drilling wide and Diop finally dirtying Bond's gloves with a routine header and, although Rice did, at least, test the Baggies' keeper with two late thunderbolts, quite simply, the Hammers had not done enough to stay in the cup.
HAMMERS: Randolph, Zabaleta, Cresswell, Balbuena (Ogbonna h/t), Diop, Rice, Sánchez (Noble h/t), Lanzini, Fornals (Antonio h/t), Ajeti, Haller. Unused subs: Martin, Cardoso, Kemp, Ngakia.
BAGGIES: Bond, Townsend, O'Shea, Hegazi, Ajayi, Barry, Brunt, Phillips (Tulloch 61)., Edwards, Krovinović (Bartley 74), Austin (Zohore 70). Unused subs: Al-Habsi, Livermore,
Booked: Barry (39), Ajayi (43), Diop (49).
Sent Off: Ajayi (72),
Referee: Stuart Attwell
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ilford Recorder. Click the link in the orange box above for details.