It’s now time to trawl over some of the main causes of discussion in the wake of yesterday afternoon’s frustrating away FA Cup Third Round draw at the hands of Paul Hurst’s Shrewsbury Town, as Salop came mightily close to dealing David Moyes’ Hammers an unlikely giant-killing.
Strong Hammers Give Shrews Easy Ride
West Ham United Boss Moyes made only a mere four changes from the Premier League draw with Tottenham Hotspur for the trip to the Montgomery Waters Meadow, a far fiercer Xl than many had expected.
However, on the pitch, it was an entirely different story as many of the first-team stars looked fatigued and the hosts had the better of the play, albeit it was the East Londoners’ third game in the space of six days with an injury-hampered Squad.
The statistics tell the tale more than anything else with the League One team managing nine shots to the Premier League’s four with one more being on target, three to two.
But, this wasn’t the only compelling figure, the Shrews also enjoyed 55.6 percent possession and forced the visitors into doing plenty more defending than they had to.
In fact, Moyes’ men would only manage four touches in Town’s box during the whole affair and their only efforts that gave Dean Henderson simple work to do came in the form of two flicked headers from Ghanaian forward Andre Ayew.
Partnering him up-top was an off the boil Javier Hernandez, who was criticised by fans and Pundits for his showing for the second game in succession, whilst his lack of service was clear to see.
Although, all things considered, West Ham have now only been defeated in just two of their last nine matches in all Competitions and have not lost away from home in that time.
However, one thing is certain, the Hammers may pay the full price if they do not show more conviction next weekend as they hope to keep up their admirable League form away at Huddersfield Town.
Hart Performance Shuts Out Former Club
Yesterday’s away side can give major thanks to England keeper Joe Hart for helping them to avoid a classic FA Cup shock, pulling off several miraculous saves to keep the score level at 0-0.
Sporting a cap that was thrown onto the field for him by the travelling supports and against the team with which he started his illustrious career, Hart was making his first start of any kind since before Christmas.
And, he marked the occasion with a clean sheet, his first under Moyes and his first in Claret & Blue since September of last year, a huge contributor to this being two fine stops just before the break.
The first came on 35 minutes in the clash, the brave Shrews midfielder Mat Sadler bursting through on the left and firing a low effort that the No13 was able to get down to quickly and push away from point-blank range.
It would be Alex Rodman’s effort that needed keeping out just two minutes later from the edge of the area, Hart clambering across to save well once more with the low Sun beating down on his goal.
While the hosts did come forward in the second period, they could not test the former Manchester City shot-stopper in any real way as the two teams remained locked in stalemate.
Hart may not have done enough to pose any serious questions to first-choice goalkeeper Adrian San-Miguel, but he certainly has remained the Footballing world that he is still a force to be reckoned with when it comes to important decisions in the summer.
Wounded Cullen Battles On As Youngsters Shine
One of the main talking points in what was an otherwise mainly uneventful affair was the rather stomach-churning blows to the head suffered by Sadler and young visiting star Josh Cullen.
Sadler’s injury came early on, clashing heads with Ayew and needing lengthy touchline treatment to stop the bleeding before re-entering the field of play, he would later leave again for stitches after the bleeding started once more.
Although, for pure wince-factor, Cullen’s was by far the more severe of the two, as he went for the ball, the boot of former Dagenham & Redbridge man Abu Ogogo caught him in the face.
The bright Academy star, currently still on loan at Bolton Wanderers, went down immediately spitting blood, replays show his front teeth flying out of his mouth and falling onto the turf, it was later revealed that he lost two teeth.
The brave charge carried on despite needing to change his shorts in the Technical Area and was an eventual Man of the Match contender on his first Irons appearance in 2017/2018.
His fellow Trotters loanee Reece Burke was also among those to impress, earning rave reviews on the right side of the defence, an unorthodox position for him to be featuring in.
Declan Rice would win his second consecutive MTJAC Man of the Match though with yet one more disciplined, composed and intelligent showing worthy of a player far beyond his tender age of 18, crucial to the clean sheet.
The substitutes’ bench was also occupied by young talent, six U23 stars including striker Antonio Martinez who made his long-awaited competitive debut, injuries and priorities may well be the catalyst, but Moyes is certainly living up to his reputation of giving youth a chance in his new role.
Cup Replay Added To Busy Irons Schedule
Yesterday afternoon Shropshire draw could only ever mean one thing, an FA Cup Round Three Replay will be needed to decide who enters the promised land of the Fourth Round.
The additional match, which is excepted to be played out early next week at the London Stadium, will mean another three clashes in a week for Moyes’ men, slotting in the middle of Premier League games against the Terriers and AFC Bournemouth.
It’s the first time in two campaigns that the side from East London will feature in a Replay, the last being the Sixth Round of the 2015/2016 Tournament, a tie they lost at the famous Upton Park.
Although they were second best at the New Meadow, the hosts will be the firm favourites for the encounter, whether it be next Tuesday, or Wednesday evening will be announced in due course.
The last time that the Hammers drew 0-0 away from home in this Competition also came during that season at Anfield before they were successful in the Replay 2-1 at the Boleyn Ground.
Both teams will gain extra incentive from tonight’s Fourth Round Draw which will be held live on BBC One and BT Sport at around 7 PM, with the winner of the Replay going on to face whoever is pulled from the hat, will it be a dream draw for either of them?
So, now that everything there was to talk about after Sunday afternoon’s tricky Shropshire trip has been well and truly covered, will there be more positive points to discuss come Saturday evening? When Moyes’ boys have paid David Wagner’s Huddersfield a visit at the John Smith’s Stadium.