Hammers Progress at Exiles Expense
By Tom Dowsett
Wednesday 28 Aug 2019 12:40:00
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It would have been an enjoyable journey back from Wales for West Ham United and their supporters after they secured their place in round three of the Carabao Cup after knocking out Sky Bet League Two side Newport County, thanks to a 2-0 victory at Rodney Parade on Tuesday night.

Robert Snodgrass and Jack Wilshire were left out of the squad for the 3-1 win at Watford at the weekend but they were restored to the starting line-up here, as Issa Diop was the only player to retain his place.

There was a first start for deadline day signing Albian Ajeti, while goalkeeper Roberto Jiménez Gago also made his competitive debut.

Other players to earn valuable gametime were Aaron Cresswell, Fabián Balbuena and Michail Antonio. Pablo Zabaleta and Carlos Sánchez both picked up their first starts of the season, while Pablo Fornals was back in the team after making his debut in the 1-1 draw at Brighton and Hove Albion on 17 August.

The hosts, who have gained a reputation for upsetting top-flight sides in the past started on the front foot but were unable to make an early breakthrough.

Manuel Pellegrini had a wealth of experience on the bench but wasn't counting on having to make a substitution so early in the game but after chasing a through ball, Antonio suffered a serious looking hamstring injury and was replaced by Felipe Anderson with only eight minutes gone.

After the disappointment of Antonio's injury, the visitors almost went in front six minutes later after a six player move ended with Fornals unfortunately hitting the post with home stopper Nick Townsend beaten.

Ten minutes later however, Newport benefited from a defensive mistake from Diop but fortunately, it didn't cost his team dearly, as Tristan Abrahams hit his tame effort straight at Roberto, who made a decent save.

It would be fair to say that defence has not been the strongest part of West Ham's game in the early weeks of the season and Diop certainly didn't cover himself in glory here. Michael Flynn's side were growing in confidence and Corey Whitely sent over a right-wing cross which the Frenchman was lucky not to turn into his own net.

Just before the break, the Hammers took the lead through Wilshires' first goal for the club. This time, it was a defensive mistake from the home side that let him through and he slotted past Townsend.

It might have been a completely different team talk for Pellegrini during the break, had his side not gone in front but I'm sure he would have been hoping for more, given the calibre of opposition that they were up against.

Wilshire's attempted pass to Ajeti fell invitingly back into the former Arsenal midfielder's path for him to open his account but the Swiss international was unlucky not to notch up his first Irons' goal at the start of the second-half. He went close on two occasions but was unable to hit the target.

There was no way that the home side were out of the contest just yet. They wasted a glorious chance to level matters when Abrahams couldn't quite reach Robbie Willmott's cross.

Despite Newport starting the half in the ascendancy, the visitors then began to dominate and scored a second on 65 minutes.

Once Wilshire had managed to get a grip on the game, he began to show the travelling support glimpses of what the have been missing. He played in Anderson and after great confusion in the Newport backline, Fornals made up for his earlier miss by putting the ball past Townsend to claim his first goal for the visitors.

Pellegrini replaced Wilshire with youngster Connor Coventry on 82 minutes before the hosts almost halved the deficit but Josh Sheehan saw his effort come back off the crossbar.

West Ham can now look forward to the third round draw before they are back in action on Saturday when last season's Sky Bet Championship title winners Norwich City visit Stratford.

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