Tuesday, 13th January 2015
Sam Allardyce finally won his first ever FA Cup match as Hammers boss when his side came back to snatch a dramatic penalty shoot-out win against ten-man Everton at the Boleyn Ground tonight.
A less-than-capacity Boleyn crowd were treated to what may yet prove to be the very last, classic FA Cup match played at West Ham's famous old ground.
Yet if that proves to be the case, this match - which produced four goals, a red card, 20 penalties and, most importantly, a home win - can justifiably take its place amongst the very greatest nights ever witnessed under the lights here on Green Street.
The opening half gave little indication of the drama that would eventually unfold, with West Ham largely dominating but failing to open up a well-drilled Everton defence. Andy Carroll's could only find the woodwork from close range when he was first to react to Enner Valencia's deflected 12th minute shot, a chance from which he should have scored.
Lesser players may have folded in similar circumstances to those which the Ecuador international found himself in six minutes after the restart, with the stigma of having failed to score at the Boleyn yet weighing heavy on his shoulders.
But when the chance presented itself - a deliciously-weighted pass from Andy Carroll - Valencia took the ball under control and with a step to the side turned sharply and fired across Everton 'keeper Joel to give West Ham a deserved lead - and to break his hoodoo.
Barely minutes after they had fallen behind, Everton were reduced to ten men when Aiden McGeady received a second caution. He could have few complaints. As the home crowd urged them forward, West Ham did create chances without greatly testing the Blues' reserve goalkeeper.
That failure to build on Valencia's opener always meant that West Ham were vulnerable to a sucker punch - and that predictably arrived when substitute Kevin Mirallas fired Everton level from a free kick just eight minutes shy of full time. Adrian's positioning was certainly questionable - but he was to make amends later in the game.
The Hammers almost snatched a dramatic win in normal time when substitute Kevin Nolan, on for a less-than-100 per cent Alex Song produced a fingertip save from Joel with a half-bicycle kick. However it wasn't to be and West Ham, whilst naturally disappointed at having thrown away a fourth successive 1-0 lead, at least had the consolation of playing the remaining half hour with a man advantage.
Not that it proved to be much of an advantage as the ten men somehow contrived to take the lead with perhaps their third shot at goal since the half time interval. He'd been as quite as a mouse all night but you just knew that somewhere, somehow, Lukalu would pop up to put the knife in - which he did by turning Mirallas' centre over the line.
With the minutes ticking away, and West Ham not looking like scoring a second, Sam Allardyce threw on Carlton Cole in one last, desperate move to save the day. Exactly 100 seconds later, the big man forced James Tomkins' header back into the mix over the line to make it 2-2.
Some game of footy that! Buzzing with the win tho.. On to the next round now #coyi— Aaron cresswell (@Aaron_Cresswell) January 13, 2015
Joyous, yet short celebrations followed as attention turned back to the final few minutes. When Lukaku sneaked into the penalty area with only Adrian to beat seconds from time one suspected that was that, but the in form striker - with five in five against West Ham - got his bearings wrong and passed the ball the wrong side of the post.
And so it was that a well-fought tie by two teams with largely attacking intentions was to be decided by the lottery of a penalty shoot-out. West Ham would have to select one of their 11 players to sit out in order to level the number of players on each side; in the end, that proved to be James Tomkins.
Everton went first and Mirallas and Noble both converted their spot kicks before Steven Naismith saw his effort punched over the bar by Adrian. Nolan, Carroll and Cresswell (West Ham) plus Lukalu, Baines and Oviedo (Everton) all found the net with their efforts leaving Stewart Downing to send West Ham through to the fourth round.
But the drama didn't end there. Joel sprang to his left to push the England international's effort aside, sending the shoot-out into sudden death.
Barry, Cole, Stones, Valencia, Jagielka, Amalfitano, Coleman and Jenkinson all scored to make the score 8-8, leaving just the 'keepers to go. Joel, first up, approached the spot reasonably confidently and fired straight and high - against the crossbar.
With the joyous response to Joel's miss having barely ceased, the tables were turned as Adrian stepped up to the penalty area. As he strode towards the spot, like a torero preparing to face his snarling nemesis, he cast his gloves aside before delivering the fatal blow - sending his compatriot the wrong way, the Boleyn Ground into ecstasy and with it, West Ham into a fourth round meeting with Bristol City.
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Adrian San Miguel del Castillo
The hero of the night, so we'll ignore his questionable positioning for Mirallas' equaliser.
Once again demonstrating that he's perhaps more effective going foward than defending - should have done better for EVerton's second.
Busy as a bee at both ends. Almost grabbed another goal with a decent effort.
Back in to replace the injured Winston Reid with an exceptional performance; the block from Mirallas, shortly before Everton's opening goal was first-class.
Put in a real shift and had a great game, but blotted his copybook by giving away the free kick which led to Mirallas' goal.
Faced tough conpetition in the centre of the park but stuck to his task. Was however guilty of giving the ball away once or twice in dangerous positions.
Clearly less than fully fit and below par. Did well to last an hour, for what was apparently a pre-planned substiution.
Not as involved perhaps as he has been in recent weeks but he still gave Everton plenty to think about.
A poor performance from a player who needs a run of good form if he's to stand any chance of winning a regular place back in the match day squad.
Gave his opponents no end of problems throughout the game and his influence was essential in West Ham clawing their way back into the game.
Finally scored his first goal at the Boleyn to his obvious relief. A much better performance than in recent weeks.
(replaced Song) Started like a man possessed and was inches away from clinching the match in the 89th minute, but his influence wavered as the game progressed. Good though to have him on hand to defuse the brief spat between Noble and Tomkins.
(replaced Jarvis) A good impact sub, this was a typically enthusiastic effort from the French winger.
(replaced Collins) Scored with his first touch of note and became a hero again, however fleetingly.
Did not play.
Joey O Brien
Did not play.
Did not play.
Ricardo Vaz Te
Did not play.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick.
Man of the Match: Adrian San Miguel del Castillo.
West Ham United
Adrian San Miguel del Castillo, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Cresswell, James Tomkins, James Collins, Mark Noble, Alex Song, Stewart Downing, Matt Jarvis, Andy Carroll, Enner Valencia.
Goals: Enner Valencia 51 Carlton Cole 113 .
Booked: Kevin Nolan 72 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Subs not used: .
Goals: Kevin Mirallas (82), Romelu Lukaku (97).
Sent Off: None.