Nine days after West Ham United opened their 2023/24 FA Cup campaign, it came to an abrupt end after Sky Bet Championship side Bristol City won their replay 1-0 at Ashton Gate on Tuesday night.
David Moyes made four changes from last time out, as Aaron Cresswell, Saïd Benrahma, Maxwel Cornet and Danny Ings replaced the injured trio of Pablo Fornals, Edson Álvarez and Lucas Paquetá, while Jarrod Bowen was not fit enough to be included in the matchday squad. On the plus side for the Scotsman though, Konstantinos Mavropanos had recovered from his chest injury, meaning he came back into the side and Angelo Ogbonna was dropped to the bench.
Alphonse Areola was also named amongst the substitutes, along with fellow goalkeeper Joseph Anang, as were youngsters Divin Mubama, Kaelan Casey, Oliver Scarles and Callum Marshall.
In contrast to the encounter in Stratford, where Bowen gave the Hammers a fourth-minute advantage, Liam Manning’s men turned the tables here and went in front in the third minute and it was the man who ensured that this replay would take place; Tommy Conway scored again when he took advantage of a mistake from Mavropanos and although Łukasz Fabiański tried to help his teammate out, the Robins’ frontman slotted the ball into the empty net. The advantage for the East Londoners was that they had plenty of time to turn the game back in their favour!!!
A James Ward-Prowse corner is always threatening and five minutes after the goal, he got the chance to send one over. Unfortunately the hosts were alert to the danger on this occasion and used it to set up a counter-attack and up the other end, Ross McCroie tried his luck but thankfully, the midfielder was unable to extend the lead for Manning’s team.
The home support were enjoying what they were seeing from their side and they continued to pile on the pressure, as Anis Mehmeti tried to get his name on the scoresheet but sent his effort horribly wide.
West Ham then had a big chance to equalise but it was unfortunately wasted when Ings shot wide minutes later.
After missing that chance, the visitors began to apply some pressure of their own. Another Ward-Prowse set-piece might have caused problems but it failed to pick out Mavropanos, who was stationed at the back post.
Cornet still hasn’t scored since joining the Irons from Burnley in summer 2022 and although he was at the heart of some close-range opportunities, a first West Ham goal still eludes him.
Good combination play from both Emmerson Palmieri and Benrahma set up Ings but again, the former AFC Bournemouth, Burnley, Liverpool, Southampton and Aston Villa striker couldn’t sort his feet out before home defender Cameron Pring cleared the danger and the ball went out of play for a corner. Moyes’ men just couldn’t take advantage, despite the fact that goalkeeper Max O’Leary had trouble clearing the ball.
The Robins could have gone further ahead but they were unable to do so but despite that, they held onto their slender lead when referee Darren England blew for the break.
West Ham’s intention was to try and find a way back into the game when the action restarted but they were dealt a blow with fifty one minutes played when Benrahma was given a straight red card for a challenge on Joe Williams immediately after being fouled by the midfielder. The Algerian international had just made the task harder for his teammates!!!
On sixty six minutes, Moyes made his first change, as Ben Johnson came on to replace Vladimír Coufal.
It may have even been ten a side had Darren England seen Taylor Gardner-Hickman’s slap on Cresswell differently but he managed to avoid going the same way as Benrahma and only received a booking.
O’Leary did brilliantly to deal with a powerful volley from Tomáš Souček, before Palmieri sent another attempt wide.
Conway was withdrawn by Manning just after the hour mark as Nahki Wells entered the fray and he was next to test Fabiański but, fortunately for those in the away end, the Pole kept the effort out.
West Ham then made a double change with ten minutes of normal time left to play as Mubama and Marshall were introduced to take the places of Cresswell and Ings.
Marshall in particular was showing glimpses of what he was capable of on his first-team debut but he wasn’t lucky enough to come away with a goal and after four minutes of stoppage time were played, West Ham had been dumped out of the FA Cup.
It’s back to Premier League action on Sunday, as the Hammers are on the road again to face a crucial game against newly-promoted Sheffield United.