Carabao Cup
Newport County 0 West Ham United 2

Tuesday, 27th August 2019
by Chris Wilkerson

West Ham United weathered the storm of energy and enthusiasm of lower league opponents Newport County to take away a 2-0 win and safe passage to round three of the Carabao Cup.

There were first half scares for the Hammers as Newport pushed and pushed to take an early lead, but Pellegrini's men left Rodney Parade with a comfortable victory and some promising performances.

The main headache for the manager will be the injury to in-form winger Michail Antonio, who was forced off the field with a hamstring injury, the forward going down in clear trouble chasing a through ball in the seventh minute. It was one of those sudden movements that always means bad news, the "ping" of a hamstring gone.

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It had been the first really promising move for the Irons, with Newport controlling much of the play before that. It also forced the early introduction of Felipe Anderson, who looked a class above his opposition and floated across the turf all game.

The Premier League visitors were struggling to really get going as League Two Newport chased and harried, brimming with energy and looking to punish the lax play of their opponents.

Positive signs were just how well Roberto was handling crosses and shots, and the Spaniard showed throughout the game how able an understudy he is to Lukasz Fabianski.

Anderson's introduction saw West Ham take some control, with 15 minutes of pressure and sharper play.

It was down his left that the first real chance of the game was made. The Brazilian guided a quite sensational pass between centre back and full back with the outside of his boot for Aaron Cresswell to race onto. The left back delivered a measured pass back to Pablo Fornals on the edge of the area, and his bobbling shot beat the forlorn dive of the Newport goalkeeper, only to strike the inside of the post and roll to safety.

For most of the half, West Ham's threat came from any combination between Cresswell and Anderson down the left, although new signing Albian Ajeti managed to work channels well and produced some clever touches.

Whilst West Ham did get on top, they were never really in complete control. It was the home side who were next to come closest to scoring, missing a golden opportunity as Diop was bullied off the ball on the edge of the box by the impressive Abrahams. The young forward passed it inside the box to strike partner Amond, but his effort was poor and went straight at Roberto.

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It was Newport who kept coming close. A backpost header was inches away from being converted in the middle after a poorly defended corner, and then Diop nearly sliced one into his own goal after a lovely driven cross saw the Frenchman stick out a leg, relief palpable as the ball flew past Roberto but somehow wide of the far post.

But with chances missed and pressure not seeing an end result, Newport were punished just before half time.

The forever probing Wilshere went forward with the ball from midfield once more. His pass into Ajeti on the edge of the box was poor, but as the centre back dallied with the intercepted ball between his feet, Wilshere continued his run forward, stole the ball from between the defender's legs and strolled into the penalty area.

As the 'keeper came out, Wilshere confidently placed it past him and into the back of the net for his first West Ham goal, giving the Hammers a rather undeserved 1-0 lead with three minutes of the half remaining.

With that half time whistle approaching and ten seconds of stoppage time left, it should have been a two-goal cushion. A Newport throw into the West Ham box was cleared to Anderson, who flicked the ball over his marker's head and into the path of Wilshere.

Wilshere's first time, volleyed pass went through the high defensive line ahead of him and into the path of Fornals. The Spaniard raced through, but this time the Newport goalkeeper was equal to the shot and the lead remained at one. Fornals should have scored.

A quiet start to the second half saw Ajeti miss a half chance when beating goalkeeper and defender to a floated but high Snodgrass cross. This spurred Newport into life, and a minute later they missed another opening.

Sanchez gave the ball away in the West Ham half and Newport pounced. It came to Willmott, driving down the right side of the area and fizzing a great ball across the face of goal. Roberto was beaten, but Abraham's desperate slide at the backpost could never quite make contact with an open goal in front of him.

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That was always the threat with the score at 1-0. West Ham managed this with neater passing and more control of possession. Corners started to come, and with Newport tiring, they couldn't continue to hold their opponents on the edge of the box, with more last ditch tackling and blocks coming than in the first half.

It was West Ham's patient approach that eventually led to their second goal, although the real breakthrough in the move came with their sloppiest pass.

As the ball was moved lazily to the edge of the Newport area, Fornals burst ahead of a flat-footed defender to regain a ball that seemed lost. The Spaniard prodded the ball to Wilshere, then spun away to get into the area. Wilshere rolled it to Anderson, who dribbled down the left of the Newport area and towards the six-yard box.

His pass with the outside of his right boot went through the legs of Ajeti and his marker, and straight into the path of the unmarked Pablo Fornals, gleeful as he passed the ball into an empty net and opened his account in a West Ham shirt.

It was a deserved goal as West Ham started to turn the screw on the Newport defence, effectively killing the game as a contest.

Newport tried to stay alive, hitting the bar with a looping header from a long freekick, although Roberto had it covered, perplexed as he was to see it given as a corner from a save he felt he never made.

From there, with 20 minutes remaining, it became an exercise in keep-ball for Pellegrini's side. Fans of game management will have enjoyed the way the team preserved energy and let the all do the work, Sanchez ably assisting as he picked up any cleared ball and fed it back into the attacking players.

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Newport continued to push themselves on for more, with Roberto making a good save from a Howkins header in the 83rd minute and Sheehan rattling the crossbar in the 88th minute after pouncing on loose play by substitute Conor Coventry.

The game continued to fade away and the final whistle blew for a rather comfortable 2-0 away win for West Ham, managing to escape a potential banana skin and advance into the next round of the cup.

Goals from Wilshere and Fornals would have given Pellegrini reason to smile, but the injury to Antonio was a heavy price to pay for progress onwards.

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Player Ratings

Roberto Jimenez Gago
Did everything he had to very well, although he was never really tested. His handling was particularly good, holding difficult crosses and shots.

Pablo Zabaleta
Untroubled, really, but as ever a little slow in attack.

Aaron Cresswell
Comfortable, with a good pass to Fornals in the first half and a good deep cross to Snodgrass. Looked alive when Anderson had the ball.

Issa Diop
Similar to Balbuena for the most part, but he looked uncomfortable one-on-one with Abraham and again was too easily muscled off the ball, which led to Newport's best chance.

Fabian Balbuena
Defended well, in general, making a good number of clearances.

Carlos Sanchez
One big mistake let him down, leading to a big Newport chance in the second half. Otherwise, he was solid, proactive when necessary but held his position well and certainly made sure the pressure stayed on late in the game as he ensured no clearances became counter attacks.

Jack Wilshere
Didn't always work in the first half, but it was the kind of game where Wilshere in the middle of the park worked. He seemed to be constantly carrying the ball forward, looking for quick passes or movement ahead of him. Reacted really well to win possession for his goal and finished excellently. Where Noble passes, Jack often carries the ball. Positive being that he's available for passes in the move going forward, but negative in that he's lost further forward when moves break down. A slight conundrum.

Robert Snodgrass
Not poor by any means, but slightly ineffective. Made poor decisions out wide and the right wing felt functional with him and Zabaleta.

Pablo Fornals
Missed a big chance and floated around aimlessly at times, but really good work for his goal. Still seems a little bit off where he needs to be, lacking some sharpness.

Michail Antonio
Cruel injury could be very costly as he's brought life to West Ham in the league.

Albian Ajeti
Promising signs. Neat touches, alive in the box on the deck and in the air, didn't look outmuscled or like he was going to just float around the box and wait for service.


Felipe Anderson
(Replaced Antonio) The best player on the pitch, he took control and was a bit too much for his opponents. The control he brought gave West Ham an edge they were lacking early on.

Conor Coventry
(Replaced Wilshere) His ten minute spell was nearly a disaster, had Sheehan rifled the ball into the back of the net after the young sub's mistake. Something to learn from.

Lukasz Fabianski
Did not play.

Ben Johnson
Did not play.

Angelo Ogbonna
Did not play.

Declan Rice
Did not play.

Sebastien Haller
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Roberto Jimenez Gago, Pablo Zabaleta, Aaron Cresswell, Issa Diop, Fabian Balbuena, Carlos Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Robert Snodgrass, Pablo Fornals, Michail Antonio, Albian Ajeti.

Goals: Jack Wilshere 43 Pablo Fornals 65                .

Booked: None.

Sent off: None.

Newport County: Townsend, Haynes, Howkins, O'Brien, McNamara, Willmott (Collins 81), Dolan (Bennett 64), Sheehan, Amond, Whitely (Maloney 64), Abrahams.

Subs not used: King, Leadbitter, Ekpiteta, Inniss.

Goals: .

Booked: .

Sent off: None.

Referee: Stephen Martin.

Attendance: 6,382.

Man of the Match: Felipe Anderson.