Town earn a replay with terrific performance
Town: Dean Henderson, Ben Godfrey, Mat Sadler, Omar Beckles, Shaun Whalley (Arthur Gnahoua, 87), Abu Ogogo (c), Carlton Morris (Stefan Payne, 82), James Bolton, Jon Nolan, Aristote Nsiala, Alex Rodman (Max Lowe, 76)
Subs not used: Craig MacGillivray, Louis Dodds, Lenell John-Lewis, Bryn Morris
West Ham United: Joe Hart (c), Winston Reid (Domingos Quina, 86), Cheikhou Kouyate, Pedro Obiang, Javier Hernandez (Antonio Martinez, 71), Andre Ayew, Angelo Ogbonna, Arthur Masuaku, Reece Burke, Joshua Cullen, Declan Rice
Subs not used: Adrian, Sead Haksabanovic, Martin Samuelsen, Vashon Neufville, Moses Makasi
Referee: Paul Tierney
Assistants: Steve Child & Mark Scholes
Fourth Official: Bobby Madley
Attendance: 9,535 (1,541 away supporters)
Shrewsbury Town and West Ham United will both have an interest in tomorrow night’s FA Cup 4th round after a goalless draw at the Montgomery Waters Meadow. And West Ham will be the happier of the two sides to get a second chance after a lacklustre performance in Shropshire. The sides will meet again at the London Stadium to determine who gets a place in the last 32 of the world’s oldest cup competition.
There was a massive boost as the teams were announced with on-loan goalkeeper, Dean Henderson, taking his place between the posts, after parent club Manchester United granted Town permission to play him in the competition for the first time this season. The Hammers named a strong XI with former Town starlet Joe Hart in goal and given the captaincy to mark his return to Shropshire.
It was a crisp but sunny winter’s afternoon as West Ham got the game underway with the Montgomery Waters Meadow packed to the rafters for this televised, and much anticipated, 3rd round tie.
After a cagey opening the first real chance fell to the Premier League side. Joshua Cullen saw his corner kick headed clear by Ben Godfrey and when Cullen swung the ball over for a second time, Cheikhou Kouyate couldn’t make a connection and a passable opportunity skipped by.
The noise levels went up a few notches in the home sections when Alex Rodman was felled 25 yards out, but the wall did its job to keep out Jon Nolan’s set piece. By this time, Hart was sporting a baseball cap with the sun shining directly into his eyes.
The game was halted for a short period with ex-Manchester United and Real Madrid striker, Javier Hernandez, receiving treatment, but a quick dab of the magic sponge and he was soon back on his feet.
Town were more than holding their own against their illustrious opponents - seeing plenty of the ball and spending the majority of the opening 20 minutes inside West Ham’s half of the pitch. After 26 minutes Godfrey missed a good chance to open the scoring when Whalley’s free-kick found the midfielder in space in the box. But the influential number 4 didn’t get enough purchase on the ball and Hart was able to make a comfortable save.
Omar Beckles was too high with a speculative volley from distance as the half hour ticked by, and as Andre Ayew was being seen to by the West Ham physio, Mat Sadler arrived at the touchline to get treatment from Chris Skitt for a bloodied head wound that required a change to his blood soaked jersey. After rejoining the action, Sadler burst into the box and forced Hart into a decent stop, and the Hammers keeper did even better to push out Rodman’s angled drive a minute later, as Town remained on the front foot.
Carlton Morris put a peach of a ball across the six yard box in added on time and West Ham were forced to defend the corner. They did so and ended the half once again frantically defending their goal - having spent large parts of the match playing second fiddle to a dominant Shrewsbury side. On the sound of the whistle, Salop went down the tunnel with the generous applause from their supporters amongst a crowd of 9,535 richly deserved.
Half Time: Town 0 West Ham United 0
Against a cloudless blue sky the Meadow lights were on for the start of the second half, with no change in personnel as play resumed.
Rodman’s penetrating burst into the box 90 seconds in was crying out for a shot but he opted to square to Whalley who was crowded out.
You sensed West Ham had a lot more to offer whereas Shrewsbury had played close to optimum levels with just that cutting edge missing where it mattered. That said, Hart had been far busier than his opposing number, Henderson.
Sadler disappeared down the tunnel - presumably for a stitch or two after a big dollop of Vaseline failed to stem the flow of claret when that head wound opened again, and it left Town temporarily a man light. When he returned, his head was swathed in bandages making him instantly recognisable at the heart of Town’s defence.
There was a brief lull in terms of intensity, but all the craft and all of the inventiveness had come from the team in blue & amber, with few wearing claret & blue doing much to justify their enormous salaries on this showing.
The home supporters tried to rally their team but with less than 20 minutes to go, a replay was beginning to look the most likely outcome. Hernandez was withdrawn as David Moyes made the first change and quickly after, Abu Ogogo might have done better than put a weak delivery straight at Hart with men in the box to aim for.
Max Lowe – signed on loan from Derby County on Friday – came on in place of Rodman with 14 minutes left and facing a dangerous looking free-kick, central to goal and 30 yards out but Pedro Obiang overcooked it and it drifted harmlessly out of play. To say that West Ham had been disappointing would have been putting it mildly. They had offered next to nothing as an attacking force but they had their clean sheet and looked set for a second bite of the cherry.
Stefan Payne was introduced with eight minutes remaining with Morris the man withdrawn as Shrews went in search for a winner. Nolan was fouled midway inside the West Ham half as Winston Reid’s afternoon ended through injury, and when United failed to see the ball over the deadball line, Nolan lashed a really decent chance way over Hart’s crossbar.
Whalley was substituted with the clock running down with Arthur Gnahoua given the remaining few minutes to make a real name for himself.
Town mounted a frantic last minute assault which led to an all-hands-on-deck approach from West Ham, but Lowe’s first touch was just too heavy which led to the move ultimately breaking down. The team left the pitch to a standing ovation and on this display, they must feel they are yet capable of an upset.
Full Time: Town 0 West Ham United 0