Woeful West Ham humiliated by League One bottom club in FA Cup giant-killing
PUBLISHED: 22:24 26 January 2019
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The Hammers stage second-half fight-back but it is nowhere near enough against Wimbledon
FA CUP FOURTH ROUND
AFC Wimbledon 4 West Ham United 2
The well-beaten Hammers were totally out of tune at The Cherry Red Records Stadium, where the on-song Dons produced the shock of the round to sensationally dump Manuel Pellegrini’s men out of the FA Cup
Kicking-off 58 places below West Ham United, wobbling Wimbledon cast aside their abysmal League One form as Premier League status counted for nothing on a damp, drizzly night.
Kwesi Appiah and Scott Wagstaff gave Wally Downes’ underdogs a deserved two-goal interval lead, leaving his Chilean counterpart to make a triple-switch at half-time.
But Wagstaff struck again immediately after the restart and, although substitutes Lucas Pérez and Felipe Anderson clawed the Hammers back into contention, Wimbledon’s Toby Sibbick then put the tie beyond reach with a late header, just minutes after stepping from the bench.
Following defeat at Bournemouth last Saturday, Pellegrini made half a dozen changes to the side that had been picked off by the Cherries as cup keeper Adrián, Arthur Masuaku, Pedro Obiang, Javier Hernández, Robert Snodgrass and Grady Diangana each returned to a strong-looking Hammers line-up as Anderson, Lukasz Fabianski and Declan Rice took their places on the bench, while Pablo Zabaleta, Aaron Cresswell and Samir Nasri were rested ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Despite pledging his allegiance to West Ham United – for now – Marko Arnautović remained conspicuous by his absence and how the Hammers could have done with their Austrian talisman as Wimbledon came flying out of the traps.
Indeed, the visitors were on the back foot from the off as the dangerous Dons set the tone for an evening of upset with a couple of right-wing raids, before forcing an early Mitch Pinnock corner that Terell Thomas fired over the relieved Adrián’s crossbar.
And Pinnock then forced Adrián to claw away his swerving, angled free-kick, before Thomas almost outwitted the Spanish keeper after ghosting into the six-yard box.
Monday night’s loss to Fleetwood Town had left the desperate Dons rooted to the foot of the League One table, eight points adrift of safety and, with his side now taking a welcome breather from their survival struggle, former Hammers coach Downes could not have asked for a more encouraging start.
The Wimbledon boss made five changes as Wagstaff, Appiah, Anthony Wordsworth, Rod McDonald and Dylan Connolly received call-ups for the club’s first-ever fourth round tie since their formation in 2002.
And with admiring old boys Vinnie Jones and Efan Ekoku looking on, Pinnock curled another one over the top before Connolly got in front of Angelo Ogbonna to send a jack-knife header into Adrián’s gloves.
Apart from forcing two corners and seeing Hernández try his luck with a couple of shots, the Hammers created little during an opening 25 minutes that had also seen strike-partner Andy Carroll send a header looping harmlessly over the angle.
Clearly targeting the left side of the West Ham defence, the Dons continued to press and, on the half-hour, Connolly’s clever cross was met by the diving Pinnock, whose header flew into Adrián’s clutches to the relief of the 759 Claret & Blue fans packed on to the compact Kingsmeadow terracing.
In desperation, Obiang sent a 30-yarder sizzling through the Surrey drizzle, but that wayward effort was nothing compared to what was about to follow at the other end.
On 34 minutes, Wordsworth found Appiah on the edge of the West Ham area, where the Dons striker took a touch before seeing his low 18-yarder take a deflection off Ogbonna to leave Adrián groping at thin air as the ball nestled inside his bottom right-hand corner.
And having fallen behind, worse was to follow for Manuel’s men four minutes before the break, when Obiang was robbed on half-way by goal-scorer Appiah, who sent Wagstaff racing clear of Ogbonna and Noble and, as the helplessly exposed Adrián advanced from his line, the Dons midfielder kept his cool to double the underdogs advantage with an unstoppable12-yarder.
With the Hammers rocking, Deji Oshilaja headed back across goal but the stretching Thomas just could not apply a vital stud and West Ham departed to Pellegrini’s interval team-talk, relieved that they were still only facing a two-goal deficit.
The Chilean made a triple-switch at the break as Anderson, Pérez and Ryan Fredericks replaced the ineffective Carroll, Diangana and Obiang but within just 30 seconds of the restart, the newly-arrived trio found themselves kicking-off yet again as Wimbledon calmly carried on from where they had left off at half-time.
Quite simply, the Hammers did not know what had hit them, when Appiah collected from Wordsworth before crossing into the danger-zone, where Wagstaff cheekily back-heeled the ball beyond the stranded Adrián to treble the lead with his fourth goal of the season.
With Antonio, Anderson, Pérez and Hernández pushing and pressing in an effort to climb a mountain of Everest-like proportions, West Ham finally started to awake from their malaise.
Indeed, on 57 minutes, they pulled one back when the Dons failed to deal with Fredericks low cross and, although Aaron Ramsdale parried Antonio’s low shot, Pérez reacted first to drill a 15-yarder back through a forest of bodies to give the Hammers a glimmer of hope with his fifth goal for the club.
Then with 19 minutes remaining, Will Nightingale upended Snodgrass 20 yards out and Anderson expertly curled the consequent free-kick over the Dons wall and inside Ramsdale’s right-hand upright to suddenly make it ‘Game On’ and go top of the West Ham scoring charts with his ninth strike of the season.
With Fredericks having been booked for fouling Appiah, Masuaku then received a yellow card for a hopeful dive in the area as the Hammers tried any means to get back on terms and force a replay.
But with Downes gradually introducing the fresh legs of Tom Soares, Jake Jervis and Sibbick in place of Pinnock, Appiah and Connolly, the Dons fans nerves were eased, when all hope a West Ham comeback was extinguished on 88 minutes.
Having been on the pitch for just three minutes, substitute Sibbick roared in at the far post to nod Wordsworth’s deep right-wing cross under the angle to deservedly send the Dons into the last 16 and leave the crestfallen, red-faced Hammers staring blankly into the dark night sky.
DONS: Ramsdale, Watson, Oshilaja, Nightingale, Thomas, Pinnock (Soares 65), Connolly (Sibbick 85), Wagstaff, McDonald, Wordsworth, Appiah (Jervis 76). Unused subs: McDonnell, Garratt, Trotter, Pigott.
HAMMERS: Adrián, Antonio, Masuaku, Diop, Ogbonna, Obiang (Fredericks h/t), Noble, Snodgrass, Diangana (Anderson h/t), Hernández, Carroll (Pérez h/t). Unused subs: Fabianski, Holland, Rice, Coventry.
Booked: Fredericks (68), Masuaku (80).
Referee: Anthony Taylor