Hammers Steam On As Cheltenham Are Derailed
By Tom Dowsett
Thursday 24 Aug 2017 13:55:00
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West Ham United will face a Carabao Cup third round tie at home to newly-promoted Sky Bet Championship side Bolton Wanderers after beating Cheltenham Town 2-0 at The LCI Rail Stadium on Wednesday night.

Only captain Mark Noble, Angelo Ogbonna, André Ayew and youngster Declan Rice kept their places from the defeat by Southampton last weekend, meaning Adrian, Arthur Masuaku, James Collins, Sam Byram, Edimilson Fernandes, Pedro Obiang and Diafra Sakho were all named in Slaven Bilic's starting line-up. 

There was a welcome sight on the bench, as Cheikhou Kouyaté was in the squad, following a wrist injury picked up on the pre-season tour of Austria.

Looking to earn their first win after the last-gasp defeat at St Mary's, the Hammers were keen to start well. 

The hosts were full of confidence going into this one, as they had beaten opposition from a higher level to make this stage. They were keen to do the same here and consequently, the visitors found it hard to deal with their relentless pressure in the opening stages.

Collins, who was making his 200th appearance for the club was in the way of everything that Gary Johnson's side could throw at their Premier League opponents, but once the Irons had weathered the storm, the momentum began to swing their way.

Bilic's men had a great chance to go in front just after the half-hour mark, when only a magnificent goal-line clearance from Robins' skipper Kyle Storer prevented Ogbonna from opening the scoring with a firm header.

It had taken a while for the Hammers to test home goalkeeper Jonathan flatt but, when he was called into action, he made a good save from Sakho after the striker was on the end of Ayew's low cross.

The Senegalese international was at the centre of the action again just ten minutes later, when a great ball from Noble was picked up by the front man and he sent a measured shot past flatt to ease the worries for the travelling support.

You've heard that saying about London buses, well, that certainly was the case here. Within three minutes, West Ham had doubled their advantage and "that man" Sakho was involved again. This time he turned provider for Ayew, as his superb pass found the former Swansea City man and the Ghanaian was able to take advantage by firing past the stranded goalkeeper.

When referee Oliver Langford blew the half-time whistle, the belief was back amongst the visitors and they were desperate to go on and finish the job off.

In contrast to the start of the first-half, the East Londoners continued to apply the pressure and could have quite easily added a third but Cheltenham dealt with the danger well.

In fact, it was the catalyst for the home side to have a spell of pressure, as they started to create openings once again.

However, it was all in vain, as the superb Collins was able to block Mohamed Eisa's effort before substitute Kevin Dawson's week shot was straight at Adrian, who was making his first appearance of the season.

The Robins then wasted a golden chance to pull a goal back, when a low shot from Jamie Grimes looked destined for the back of the net but fortunately for West Ham, substitute Dan Holman was unable to benefit and their clean sheet was still intact.

The Hammers' boss made a change on 64 minutes in an effort to try and find a third goal, as Sakho made way for Javier Hernandez. Then nine minutes later, the skipper was replaced by Kouyaté.

It seemed that the East Londoners were not going to settle for just the two, as they kept pressing but neither Byram's shot, nor Obiang's header were good enough to trouble flatt.

With just two minutes of normal time to play, Bilic made a final change, as Domingos Quina was given a first taste of domestic action since signing for the Irons last summer.

Stoppage time was successfully negotiated and the Hammers had clinched their first win of the season, meaning the journey back to East London for all concerned must have been an enjoyable one.

They will be hoping to build on this and collect three points, as they head to Newcastle United on Saturday afternoon. 

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