Hammers Dumped from Cup after Horrorshow
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 15 Feb 2015 13:21:00
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Towards the end of last season, the pressure was really on West Ham United as they were looking to preserve their Premier League status. When they played away at West Bromwich Albion, it was crucial that they took three points but the Baggies piled more woe on the Hammers, as Saido Berahino's 10th minute strike clinched the points.

This campaign, the Irons were making their second visit to the Hawthorns where they had already taken all three points, as they came back from a goal behind. The reverse fixture on New Year's Day was a different story however, with the team struggling for any sort of form, Albion chairman Jeremy Peace replaced then Head- Coach Alan Irvine with Tony Pulis at the start of the year and it sparked something of an upturn as they took a point away from Upton Park.

When the FA Cup fifth-round draw was made and Sam Allardyce's men faced another trip to the Black Country. Whilst West Ham's loyal support would have been hopeful of progression, there must have been a feeling that this time was going to be a much tougher test.

It is fair to say this proved the case; the Hammers now only have league points to play for as their involvement in the competition came to an end on Saturday afternoon thanks to a 4-0 defeat.

In recent weeks injuries have taken their toll on the East Londoners. The situation was made worse on Wednesday after Andy Carroll, who had missed the home game with Manchester United last Sunday due to an ankle injury picked up against Liverpool the previous week, was named on the bench in the 16-man squad to face Southampton at St Mary's.

Carroll was introduced in place of Diafra Sakho on 55 minutes but the decision turned out to be a nightmare for the Hammers. Adrian was given a straight red card for handling the ball outside the area after an hour and bringing on the substitute goalkeeper meant Big Sam was left with no replacement when Carroll suffered yet another injury soon after. 

The news was confirmed on Friday that the striker would require surgery and this has left him unavailable for the remainder of the campaign.

Suffering that blow meant preparations ahead of the tie were not ideal, especially as the club felt that they could really make a go of the competition this season. With that in mind, Allardyce made two changes to the starting line-up for the game, as Morgan Amalfitano and Carlton Cole were dropped to the bench, meaning club captain Kevin Nolan and Mark Noble could regain their places after recovering from injury.

Albion dominated throughout and were playing the better football which paid off on 20 minutes, when Aaron Cresswell let Craig Dawson in and he was able to set up Brown Ideye to smash past Adrian.

In the weeks since he took over, it was clear that Pulis had slowly worked his magic on the team as they continued to play with high intensity and added a further goal on 42 minutes when another defensive mixup, this time by Noble, allowed James Morrison to gain possession and let fly. Albion were looking comfortable by this point.

Nothing was going right for the Hammers and Albion were just scoring at will. Another arrived on 57 minutes, as Creswell's bad day at the office continued; the ball slammed into him and Stéphane Sessègnon reaped the benefits as he was able to play in Ideye to knock in his second goal of the game.

Allardyce then made a change which came later than it should have done, as he took Nolan out of the firing line and replaced him with Amalfitano.

The French midfielder usually has an impact when coming on from the bench and this was no different. The change certainly sparked some life into the visitors, so much so they nearly got a goal back on 66 minutes. Sakho thought he had headed past Ben Foster but the Baggies' stopper made a miraculous save and defender Gareth McAuley then cleared the danger as he hooked the ball off the line.

With his team now 3-0 down and that chance having been wasted, Allardyce made a double change, as he brought on Joey O'Brien and Carlton Cole for Alex Song and Sakho; however only two minutes had passed before Amalfitano received a stupid red card just ten minutes after coming on. There would be no prizes for guessing what the manager thought of what had happened, as he did not even look at the player as the Frenchman went down the tunnel.

On 72 minutes, Albion confirmed their place in the quarter-finals as Berahino fired past Adrian at the near post.

By this point most of the away end had started to leave as their side were no longer going to get back into the game.

At least Adrian stopped the scoreline becoming embarrassing, as he was then forced into after save until the visitors' pain was finally brought to an end when Martin Atkinson blew the final whistle.

After a busy week, West Ham now have to wait until next Sunday when they face a London derby in the Premier League, which sees them go to White Hart Lane to play Tottenham Hotspur.

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