|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
West Ham knocked out by 10-man West Brom after Conor Townsend strikes
Jacob Steinberg at the London Stadium
Date Published Sat 25 Jan 2020 17.03 GMT
David Sullivan and David Gold cannot ignore the evidence piling up before their eyes. West Ham are an utter mess and the clock is ticking. The transfer window shuts on Friday and David Moyes, who wore a rather haunted look at the end of his side’s latest defeat, needs signings. West Ham’s manager requires a right-back, a midfielder and a striker. Sullivan and Gold must reach into their pockets or face the likelihood of relegation from the Premier League.
West Bromwich Albion barely had to break stride to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup, even though the Championship’s pacesetters rotated heavily and lost Semi Ajayi to a red card in the closing stages. Conor Townsend scored the only goal to ensure that Slaven Bilic emerged victorious on his return to this sad, soulless ground, where the disgruntled locals had to wait until the 89th minute for West Ham to muster a shot on target.
Pacing around his technical area, Bilic must have been relieved that the groans floating down from the stands for much of the first half were no longer his problem. The Croatian knows how quickly the mood can turn ugly here and, a week after an estimated 900 West Ham supporters held a protest against the club’s deeply unpopular board, the atmosphere was poisonous once West Brom took a deserved early lead.
West Brom had threatened even before Townsend lashed them in front in the ninth minute. Kyle Edwards, impressing on the left flank, had forced Darren Randolph to tip wide from 20 yards. Matt Phillips, running at an exposed back four after the disappointing Declan Rice lost possession to the 38-year-old Gareth Barry, almost released Charlie Austin.
West Ham were atrocious and they cracked when Austin found space on the edge of the area.
Carlos Sánchez’s tackle hit Issa Diop and when the ball ran to Townsend, the West Brom left-back had time to take a touch and ping a rising drive past Randolph.
Bilic’s decision to make eight changes made no difference. West Brom, whose promotion push has stalled after six league games without a win, should have been out of sight at the break. Filip Krovinovic glanced just wide and Austin was guilty of a poor miss, fluffing a free header from close range.
“I am very pleased with the result,” Bilic said. “I am even more pleased with the performance. We were positive from the start. We kept the ball really well. We should have been more up. In the second half it was more or less a normal game until the red card. Then we had to defend well.”
West Ham were an abject rabble. They went through the motions on and off the ball and the malaise was summed up by Fabián Balbuena’s dismal distribution from the back. The centre-half was appalling, so much so that there were ironic cheers when he finally completed a couple of simple passes.
Balbuena was merely the worst of a bad bunch, though. Sánchez lived down to expectations in midfield, Pablo Zabaleta’s ageing legs were exposed at right-back, Manuel Lanzini and Pablo Fornals offered nothing in the creative department and there was no understanding between Sébastien Haller and Albian Ajeti up front.
The opening period passed without Jonathan Bond, West Brom’s goalkeeper, making a save and Moyes, who has won two of his first six games since replacing Manuel Pellegrini last month, reacted by replacing Balbuena, Sánchez and Fornals with Angelo Ogbonna, Mark Noble and Michail Antonio at half-time.
The changes had little effect. West Brom continued to call the shots and Randolph had to make a good save from an Austin header. Krovinovic and Phillips were causing problems as well, wriggling into dangerous positions as Sullivan, the most powerful figure at West Ham, watched uncomfortably from the directors’ box.
Moyes had introduced Antonio in the hope that the forward’s physicality would unsettle West Brom. It did, but in the wrong way. There was a delay when Antonio, charging in to challenge for a high ball, left Dara O’Shea with a bloody mouth.
West Ham belatedly summoned some fight as West Brom retreated. Haller, the club’s record buy, scuffed wide and West Brom were reduced to 10 men when Ajayi, who was booked in the first half, received a second yellow card for a silly trip on Ajeti.
Yet West Ham huffed and puffed, creating little until Noble fired over in injury time. Not to worry, though: Liverpool visit the London Stadium on Wednesday.
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS
West Ham (4-2-2-2): Randolph 6.5; Zabaleta 6, Balbuena 3 (Ogbonna 46, 6), Diop 6, Cresswell 6.5; Sanchez 4 (Noble 46, 6), Rice 6.5; Fornals 4 (Antonio 46, 7), Lanzini 6; Ajeti 5.5, Haller 5.
Subs not used: Martin, Cardoso, Kemp, Ngakia
Manager: David Moyes 4
West Brom (4-2-3-1): Bond 6; O’Shea 7, Ajayi 7, Hegazi 7, Townsend 7; Brunt 6, Barry 7; Phillips 6 (Tulloch 62, 6), Krovinovic 7.5 (Bartley 74, 6), Edwards 7; Austin 7 (Zohore 70, 6).
Subs not used: Al-Habsi, Livermore, Harper, Willock.
Booked: Barry, Ajayi
Goal: Townsend 9
Manager: Slaven Bilic 8
Man of the match: Krovinovic