Another Fourth-Round Exit for Hammers
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 26 Jan 2020 14:16:00
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It's another exit from the Emirates FA Cup at the fourth-round stage for West Ham United, as they lost 1-0 to Sky Bet Championship outfit West Bromwich Albion in Stratford on Saturday afternoon.

With a few more injuries occurring after the club's 4-1 defeat at Leicester City on Wednesday night, David Moyes made four changes from the game at The King Power Stadium. Robert Snodgrass and Arthur Masuaku missed out through injury and although there were doubts over Angelo Ogbonna's fitness before the game, he was included amongst the substitutes, along with club Captain Mark Noble and Michail Antonio.

Fabián Balbuena, Carlos Sánchez, Pablo Fornals and Albian Ajeti were all brought into the starting line-up.

The Hammers have suffered some rather embarrassing defeats in this competition in recent seasons and fell behind here with only nine minutes gone. Defender Connor Townsend pounced on a loose ball and ran into space to strike a powerful shot past goalkeeper Darren Randolph.

The Baggies, now under the stewardship of former Irons' boss Slaven Bilic kept their shape well and although the home side were searching for a quick response, they made sure there was no way through.

The hosts were still trying to find an equaliser but in truth, weren't going the right way about it as promising build-up play was continually broken down by misplaced passes. When a flowing move finally materialised, the ball nearly found Declan Rice but a crucial block prevented him from finding the final touch.

Rice then had a chance himself with a half volley but unfortunately for the home faithful, it came to nothing.

The scoreline could have looked even worse for the hosts five minutes before half-time but thankfully Charlie Austin wasted the opportunity when the striker lost his marker to meet Dara O'Shea's cross but fortunately he headed wide.

The home crowd clearly showed their frustrations when the half-time whistle blew. They wanted to see a performance in the second-half.

Moyes responded by making all three changes at the break; Ogbonna, Antonio and Noble replaced Balbuena, Sánchez and Fornals.

Antonio certainly made an impact against the Foxes in midweek and did the same here but Bilic's men remained resilient.

The former Nottingham Forest man produced a ball from a great run which found Manuel Lanzini, who in turn set up Ajeti. The Swiss striker might have found the equaliser but for visiting goalkeeper Jonathan Bond, who came rushing off his line.

West Ham's final ball was letting them down all afternoon and it proved to be the case again when Ajeti combined with Sébastien Haller but unfortunately for the Frenchman, he took this shot on his weaker foot and it went agonisingly wide.

The Hammers kept applying pressure and Ajeti went close again when he headed Lanzini's cross inches wide of the far post.

The hosts were given a boost on seventy minutes as Semi Ajayi, who had earlier been booked was given a second yellow card after a foul on Ajeti but the home side were unable to make the most of it, despite Lanzini linking up well with Haller.

It was then left to Noble to do similar but despite evading the challenges of Gareth Barry and Chris Brunt, his curling effort also missed the target.

West Ham did all they could to try and level the tie but Bond was untroubled as Lanzini, Issa Diop, Pablo Zabaleta and Rice all had chances at goal.

Possibly, the best chance for the Hammers to ensure they would be in Monday's draw came in stoppage time at the end of the encounter, when the skipper was perfectly set up by Antonio but he couldn't take advantage, meaning the FA Cup journey is over for another year and they can look ahead to what will be a real test on Wednesday night, as Premier League leaders Liverpool arrive in East London.

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