West Ham sneak through thanks to Payet class
22:01 21 September 2016
PA/Press Association Images
The Hammers had to endure a few shaky moments but an injury-time winner put them into round four of the League Cup
EFL Cup Third Round
West Ham United 1 Accrington Stanley 0
It was the late, late show at London Stadium, where substitute Dimitri Payet’s last-gasp strike finally gave the Hammers victory over stubborn Stanley.
The Frenchman’s fantastic free-kick proved to be a cruel blow for the League Two team, who had deservedly looked all set to take Premier League West Ham United to extra-time following a brave, battling performance against Slaven Bilić’s stuttering side.
Following successive 4-2 defeats against both Watford and then West Bromwich Albion, the Hammers boss had promised to field a ‘mixed’ team and he was true to his word as he made seven changes from the starting XI that had endured that Hawthorns horror on Saturday afternoon.
Without a single Englishman on show, Darren Randolph, Sofiane Feghouli, Jonathan Calleri, Pedro Obiang, Gökhan Töre plus debutants Edimilson Fernandes and Alvaro Arbeloa came into the fold against the side that had claimed the scalp of Premier League Burnley in the previous round.
Saturday’s victory over Portsmouth had left Stanley sitting in 11th spot in League Two and following that win, they made two changes as Elliot Parish replaced Aaron Chapman between the sticks, while Scott Brown came in for substitute Paddy Lacey.
The visitors had never made it into the third round before and, clearly looking to carry on their EFL adventure, skipper Seamus Conneely forced Randolph into a second-minute save with a low 18-yarder, while at the other end, last man Janoi Donacien timed his tackle to perfection to rob the flying Feghouli as he raced towards Parish.
Jordan Clark also bundled Sean McConville’s cross into the six-yard box beyond the far post, before John O’Sullivan then curled wide from the edge of the area, while Matty Pearson underlined the Stanley spirit, emerging from the touchline with a bloodied, bandaged head to thwart anything West Ham United tried to throw at him.
The Hammers may have had the lion’s share of midfield possession but they were finding no way through and their frustration was evidenced by Simone Zaza’s 25-yarder that skewed onto the covered running track and Calleri’s ambitious angled hook beyond the far post.
“It’s just like watching Brazil,” chanted the Stanley supporters as the yellow-shirts and blue shorts of the visitors continued to match their Premier League opponents, stride-for-stride and tackle-for-tackle, while brave-heart Pearson again put his head in where it hurts to deny Zaza and ensure that it remained goalless at the break.
Clearly, Bilić had seen enough and wide boys Feghouli and Töre were replaced by Payet and Manuel Lanzini for the restart, much to the appreciation of the home fans in the crowd of 39,877.
On 52 minutes, a little Lanzini magic opened the door for Zaza, whose low 10-yarder was gathered by Parish, while at the other end, Clark forced a fantastic flying save out of Randolph, who clawed his angled screamer away for Stanley’s first corner of the night.
Then on the hour mark, Calleri bundled wide after Zaza chested into his path and then the twinkle-toes of Lanzini carried him into the box, where Parish again saved and, after substitute Chris Eagles volleyed inches wide, Bilić played his last card of the night as Michail Antonio replaced the clumsy Calleri.
With a quarter-hour remaining, Zaza thought he had broken the deadlock but Parish blocked the Italian’s point-blank shot with his knees, while Lanzini and Antonio were off-target from further out.
The diving Zaza also headed inches over the top, while Antonio steered Payet’s deep free-kick beyond the right post and the former Juventus striker was then foiled in the act of shooting six yards out, before Arthur Masuaku was stretchered away from the touchline, leaving the Hammers with ten men.
But with extra-time looking inevitable, substitute Boco was booked for tripping Payet as he embarked on one final raid into Stanley territory and, after dusting himself down, the Frenchman curled his consequent, trademark 25-yard free-kick over the defensive wall and into the net to finally break the deadlock and send the Hammers into the fourth round draw.
HAMMERS: Randolph, Arbeloa, Masuaku, Nordtveit, Ogbonna, Obiang, Fernandes, Feghouli (Payet h/t), Töre (Lanzini h/t), Calleri (Antonio 70), Zaza. Unused subs: Adriàn, Byram, Fletcher, Oxford.
STANLEY: Parish, Vyner, Donacien, Beckles, Pearson, O’Sullivan (Eagles 65), Conneely (Boko 84), Brown (Hughes 77), Clark, McConville, Kee. Unused subs: Chapman, Gornell, Jones, Lacey.
Referee: Stephen Martin.
Bookings: Boco (90+5)