Tuesday, 26th August 2014
A second string West Ham fell out of the Carling Cup at the first hurdle after losing to League Ones side Sheffield United on penalties at the Boleyn this evening.
The Hammers' long list of woeful defeats to lower league opposition has a new entry tonight after the Blades hung on to take the game into penalties, which they won 5-4 due to Enner Valencia's spot kick miss.
With both sides having converted their first four efforts, Valencia saw his effort saved by the excellent Mark Howard. That left Michael Doyle with the opportunity to win the tie - an offer he gratefully accepted to the delight of the small travelling contingent of fans.
Sam Allardyce made no less than ten changes to the team that comfortably beat Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park last weekend with young prospects such as Reece Burke, Diego Poyet, Danny Potts and Ravel Morrison given an opportunity to stake a claim for a first team place.
But it was Diafra Sakho, West Ham's most recent arrival, who opened the scoring on his full debut with five minutes of the first half remaining.
17-year-old Reece Burke, who despite being a central defender has a propensity to pop up in attacking positions sent a perfect cross from the right onto the Senegalese international's head. Sakho's finish - a looping header into the far corner - was perfect, and Howard was beaten for what proved to be the only time from open play.
Having cruised through the first half, West Ham started the second in similar fashion and the chances of the Blades mounting a comeback appeared slim, at best. To say there was an element of luck about their equaliser would be an understatement, but the visitors somehow found themselves back on level terms just shy of the hour mark.
Bob Harris' centre from the left seemed to be well covered but an unfortunate deflection off Marc McNulty caught Winston Reid unaware, and the ball bounced off the defender's ankle into an empty net with Jussi Jaaskelainen stranded. Having controlled the game, West Ham had to start all over again.
Despite lacking any penetration in the final third, Sheffield stuck to their guns and defended doggedly as West Ham pushed on in search of a deserved winner. The end of 90 minutes came and went and, despite having introduced big guns Mark Noble, Mauro Zarate and Stewart Downing, United still couldn't find their way through a Blades defence superbly marshalled by stopper Howard.
And so it was that a penalty shootout would decide the outcome of the tie. Noble, Downing, Zarate and Poyet all converted their spot kicks - as did Davies, Collins, McNulty and McEveley for Sheffield. But crucially, £12million-man Valencia failed to convert his leaving Doyle to win the shootout for the visitors.
The Hammers return to the Boleyn Ground this weekend where Southampton are the visitors. Sam Allardyce will be hoping his (full-strength) side can continue from where they left off last Saturday against Palace, rather than repeat tonight's frustrating performance that once again promised much, but delivered little.
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Ricardo Vaz Te
Did not play.
Did not play.
Man of the Match: Adrian San Miguel del Castillo.
West Ham United
Jussi Jaaskelainen, Guy Demel, Danny Potts, Reece Burke, Winston Reid, Diego Poyet, Mo Diame, Ricardo Vaz Te, Ravel Morrison, Enner Valencia, Diafra Sakho.
Goals: None .
Booked: Winston Reid 81 James Collins 90 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Subs not used: .
Booked: None booked..
Sent Off: None sent off..