It’s now time to take a look at some of the main causes of discussion in the wake of West Ham United’s FA Cup Third Round Replay victory over Paul Hurst’s Shrewsbury Town at the London Stadium yesterday evening as David Moyes’ men booked a place in Round Four of Football’s oldest Competition.
Burke Finds First Hammers Goal as Youngsters Shine
Some times are better than others to net for the first ever time for your boyhood club and young defender Reece Burke did so at the perfect moment in East London last night.
With just eight minutes remaining until the affair went to penalties, Spanish U23 forward Antonio Martinez, performing admirably on his full Competitive debut, shrugged off pressure to flick a volley into a dangerous area.
There to meet it on the half-volley was Burke, his effort cannoning off the crossbar, bouncing over the line and bulging the back of the net to raise the roof in Stratford and send his side into Round Four after over 200 minutes of action in total.
Much like in the first fixture with the Shrews, the former Bradford City player of the Year was a stand-out performer, earning the Man of the Match award for his exploits just under two weeks after being re-called from a loan at Bolton Wanderers.
However, he wasn’t the only starlet to earn rave reviews, fellow former Bolton and Bradford man Josh Cullen, who recovered from having two teeth kicked out at the New Meadow, was also a strong contender for the accolade.
While Burke figured in defence, he commanded the midfield alongside Pedro Obiang, playing numerous positive balls forward and hanging onto possession nicely.
The aforementioned Martinez started up-front with Andre Ayew and registered an assist to his name, always looking a lovely threat, while Reece Oxford, having recently returned from Borussia Monchengladbach also impressed just in front of the back four.
All in the all, the night belonged to the home side’s young talent, many of whom have benefited from the injuries of more senior teammates to be given opportunities recently.
But, regardless of the fitness problems, there is little doubt that Moyes is living up to his reputation of trying out young stars, which can also be seen with fellow defensive option Declan Rice though the question remains, will any of them be involved from the start when League action returns at the weekend?
Visiting Shrews Show London Stadium Fight
For all of the Hammers headline-making antics, Pundits and fans alike were quick to laud the efforts of Hurst’s visiting Shrewsbury team yesterday evening in East London.
Salop defended well and as a unit to keep the hosts out for the best part of 112 minutes, as well as battling hard in midfield and even getting forward to create their own opportunities.
The biggest of them surely came in the second period when a wicked deflection off Oxford played Stefan Payne clean through, the forward setting himself before seeing his effort kept out by England keeper Joe Hart.
In addition, Town won more than their fair share of set-pieces in advanced areas, causing Moyes’ organised and young defence problems on numerous occasions.
Young Manchester United loanee goalkeeper Dean Henderson also showcased his talents. Remaining cool, calm and collected to catch a high number of dangerous deliveries from the likes of Sam Byram and Arthur Masuaku into the box.
Though conceding in the manner they did so late on in the affair would have undoubtedly been a blow for the League One outfit, there is little doubt that they can be pleased with their performance in the face of such a stern challenge against a team 34 places above them in the English Football pyramid.
Moyes’ Boys to Face Cherries or Latics in Round Four
For the third time in the space of four years, the East Londoners are into Round Four of the Emirates FA Cup and an away trip to face off with either AFC Bournemouth or Wigan Athletic will greet them.
The pair will play it out for the chance to host Moyes’ men in Round Four this evening at the DW Stadium, with the next stage tie being played out next Saturday afternoon.
The last time that the club reached the Round came during the 2015/2016 season when they defeated Liverpool over two matches and the campaign before that, Bristol City narrowly at Ashton Gate.
In the more recent of the two runs and then under Slaven Bilic, they reached the Sixth Round, Quarter-Finals, to be beaten by the Red Devils, while a year previously, a defeat at the Hawthorns would await.
While it’s unclear how far they will get this time around with Moyes at the helm, this year’s Tournament certainly does seem to be throwing up plenty of firsts.
Last night was the first ever period of extra-time at London Stadium, the first ever FA Cup Replay at the former Olympic venue and the first time that a League One outfit has played there, can the Hammers lift the famous FA Cup for the first time since 1980?
What Did the Managers Have to Say?
“We started the stronger, we always looked the most likely side, albeit we looked as though we couldn’t score at the top end, we didn’t look strong enough tonight”.
“Good credit to Shrewsbury, they done a really good job, they made it hard for us to score and fortunately, we came up with something just before the end”.
“(Burke) struck it really well and we were going to need something like that because we had, had a few half chances and opportunities, we didn’t take them, so it was always going to need something to break for us and it did”.
“I think that the Cup ties are difficult in as much as the expectation is all on us to be the team who makes all the running, I knew that to beat the team we were playing would be touch and go”.
“I’m very proud of the players first and foremost, but extremely disappointed with the goal that we conceded, the type of goal we conceded it’s heart-breaking”.
“My mind certainly hadn’t wondered to thinking who was going to take the penalties but, your edging closer to that and you never know when you get to a penalty-shootout”.
“I thought the players probably deserved to get t that point, but ultimately, West Ham have done the job and done enough to get through”.
“Even at Blackburn at the weekend, when you’re playing in the really big games, you’ve got to take those kinds of opportunities”.
So, now that everything there was to talk about from a historic night in Stratford has been well and truly covered, while there be yet more positive points to draw on come Saturday evening? When Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth have dropped in on the Irons for a League visit.