Hammers Need no Prayers Against Monk's Birmingham
By Tom Dowsett
Monday 07 Jan 2019 17:51:00
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Goals at either end of each half secured West Ham United's passage through to the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup after they beat Sky Bet Championship outfit Birmingham City 2-0 in Stratford on Saturday.

Manuel Pellegrini named a strong side for the tie, as Adrián replaced Lukasz Fabianski in goal and captained the team, while Samir Nasri made his full debut after signing for the club on New Year's Eve.

There were also places for youngsters Grady Diangana, Xande Silva and Arthur Masuaku who slotted into the defence.

Those fans who were late getting to their seats would have missed Marko Arnautovic putting the hosts ahead. Silva got straight into the action and was the 1st to try and beat goalkeeper Lee Camp but the former Derby County stopper managed to tip the effort around the post. Diangana sent the set piece into the box and Angelo Ogbonna's header was initially saved but Arnautovic forced Camp into a mistake and beat Maxime Colin to the ball and then watched it land in the net.

Before the match, there were rumours that Arnautovic had been complaining of a twinge in his back so, as a precaution, Pellegrini decided not to take any further risks ahead of Saturday's early home London derby against Arsenal and replace him with Andy Carroll with only twenty minutes gone. It was clear to see that the Austrian was and happy with the decision.

Not despondent, despite being a goal behind, Garry Monk's men then started to dominate. Gary Gardner saw his shot helped wide by Masuaku, while Lukas Jutkiewicz headed wide of the far post with his first attempt however, he went even closer minutes later but Carroll was on hand to make a fantastic goal line clearance.

Both teams had chances before the break with Maikel Kieftenbeld sending a first-time shot narrowly wide, before Diangana saw two efforts go begging. Firstly, a left-footed effort went beyond the post; he then missed for a second time, as his shot only found the side netting.

Half-time arrived and the Hammers knew that they would need another goal to make sure of their progression.

The visitors were applying pressure in the hope of drawing level just after the break but weren't able to make it pay.

Che Adams started it all off when he had a header blocked by Ogbonna, Jutkiewicz then took charge but couldn't beat Adrián with either of his two chances, before Issa Diop prevented Harlee Dean from equalising for the visitors with a well timed block on his header.

West Ham made their second change on 58 minutes, as Nasri made way for Robert Snodgrass.

Pellegrini's men then proceeded to waste good efforts from both Michail Antonio and Silva before Carroll hit the upright after Snodgrass had played him in.

The hosts introduced Felipe Anderson for Silva as their final alteration with eleven minutes to play.

Carroll's comeback game against Brighton and Hove Albion three days earlier was curtailed at half-time due to a head injury, and he was desperate to make an impact here.

He missed a golden opportunity to make the game safe when he burst into the area but was unable to beat Camp before he redeemed himself in stoppage time and confirmed the victory when he headed into the net following Antonio's perfect cross.

It's all eyes on tonight's fourth round draw for Irons' fans before another early Saturday kick-off, as the Gunners come calling. 
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