West Ham ease into third round of Capital Cup
There were no giant-killing acts at Upton Park as West Ham beat Crewe Alexandra
West Ham United 2 Crewe Alexandra 0
Goals from Nicky Maynard and Modibo Maiga ensured that the Railwaymen hit the buffers at Upton Park, where the Hammers booked their ticket for the Capital Cup third round.
Having joined Alexandra as a seven-year-old, Maynard put Sam Allardyce’s on track for victory with a 34th-minute opener before Modibo Maiga netted his first goal for his new side, ten minutes after the break.
Certainly, it had been a case of all change for Crewe with Sam Allardyce introducing ten new faces to his starting line-up and, indeed, skipper Kevin Nolan was the only survivor from the side that had slumped at Swansea City on Saturday.
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With those new faces each eager to press their claims for a place against Fulham on Saturday, Jordan Spence soon nodded Gary O’Neil’s corner inches over before Maynard showed his intent by curling just a whisker wide from 18 yards.
The League One newcomers had endured an awkward awayday at the weekend, too, but despite their 5-1 defeat at Brentford, Steve Davis made just a trio of changes as Kelvin Mellor, Harry Bunn and lone-striker Max Clayton came in for Mathias Pogba plus substitutes Adam Dugdale and Abdul Osman.
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And Mellor might have opened the scoring on 11 minutes, when Stephen Henderson punched Ashley Westwood’s tricky free-kick on to the right-back’s knee but fortunately for the debutant ‘keeper the ball ricocheted into the Bobby Moore Stand.
Midway through the half, Alan Martin was forced into his first real stop of the evening, too, when he gratefully grabbed Ricardo Vaz Te’s glancing header after Matt Taylor floated another corner into the six-yard box.
But as the half-hour mark approached the Portuguese playmaker had the visiting fans scrambling to save his next effort, which skewed high and wide from distance much to the frustration of the expectant Hammers supporters, who had been waiting patiently for an express breakthrough that was taking just too long to arrive.
On 34 minutes, though, the claret and blue faithful got their wish, when Vaz Te found the supporting Maiga, whose low, first time cross from the right was swept home by Maynard from 10 yards.
Having just netted against his former club, the Hammers striker then almost bagged a swift second but Martin acrobatically beat out his sizzling shot to still give his side some second half hope.
Indeed, within just two minutes of the restart, Luke Murphy unleashed a low 25-yarder that Henderson diverted into the side netting and, from the consequent corner, Ajay Leitch-Smith saw his blistering goal-bound effort blocked.
Bunn, who had earlier seen Spence booked for felling him, then had his vociferous shouts for a penalty waved away by referee Fred Graham after he tumbled to the turf under the challenge of Alou Diarra.
Ten minutes into the second period, though, Big Sam’s side were all but in the third round draw, when Mellor was booked for blocking Vaz Te as he broke upfield.
That allowed the quick-thinking Taylor to play the subsequent free-kick to the on-rushing Nolan and, although Martin blocked the captain’s shot with his legs, the hungry Maiga reacted first to gobble up the loose ball and claim his inaugural strike in English football.
Basking in the luxury of that two-goal cushion, Allardyce gave a debut to rookie Mathias Fanimo, who replaced Taylor and, shortly afterwards, Maiga somehow contrived to hook over when it would have been easier to score.
With Robert Hall also replacing Vaz Te, Maiga again went close, while Nolan rippled the side-netting before being replaced by another debutant, George Moncur.
By now, West Ham were looking totally comfortable with Diarra heading over and Maiga finding himself thwarted by Martin, while at the other end Henderson brilliantly smothered Leitch-Smith’s point-blank effort to ensure that there would be no late scares on the way to Thursday’s third round draw.
HAMMERS: Henderson, Spence, Taylor (Fanimo 60), O’Brien, Potts, Vaz Te (Hall 72), O’Neil, Diarra, Nolan (Moncur 84), Maiga, Maynard. Unused subs: Spiegel, Driver, Demel, McCallum
RAILWAYMEN: Martin, Robertson, Mellor, Davis, Ellis (Dugdale 73), Bunn (Osman 62), Moore, Westwood, Murphy, Leitch-Smith (Turton 80), Clayton. Unused subs: Garratt, Guthrie, Ray, Osman, Daniels
Booked: Spence (13), Mellor (54).
Referee: Fred Graham.