For nearly 210 minutes over two matches Shrewsbury Town of League One held out against the multi millionaires of East London in the FA Cup. They eventual fell down to a goal in extra time of the replay but, make no bones about it, they have done all lower league fans proud. D3D4 Shrewsbury correspondent gives his report from the trip to the Olympic Stadium…
Reece Burke’s extra time goal saw the laboured bubble blowers scrape into the FA Cup fourth round.
In another game of few chances, Stefan Payne wasted the best chance of normal time after going through one on one with Joe Hart from Nolan’s exceptional interception which released Salop’s top scorer.
Hart saved excellently with his leg after Payne’s first touch took him slightly away from goal as he tried to fire the ball under the advancing England man. Payne did everything right in his execution. He kept it low and hard, but you have to hold your hands up and say it was a great save by Salopian Joe to rescue his side.
The first half was pretty insipid. A much-changed Hammers defence looked vulnerable at times but the best chance in the attacking third came through Manuel Lanzini, who saw a powerful 35-yard free-kick palmed away by Deano with the now trademarked ‘Hendo Scoop’.
The 3,000 travelling Salopians were in fine voice throughout and the boys in blue and amber didn’t let them down either. Whereas The Irons looked rather lacklustre trying to breakdown their lower ranked opponents, Salop were gritty and determined in defence while, as ever looking sharp when breaking in attack.
The game became a little more stretched in the second period as neither side really wanted extra time. Masuaku and Lanzini both fired over from decent positions for the hosts, before Payne missed his chance to write his name into Shrewsbury Town folklore. Whalley shot over after beating a couple of men as Moyes called for the big guns off his bench to try and settle the tie in normal time.
Noble, Arnautovic and later Zabaleta all entered the game as West Ham looked to crank the pressure up on Town’s superbly organised defence. Martinez fired wide before ‘big boy’ Arnautovic shot into the side netting and fired wide himself.
We headed into extra time and in all honesty nobody could have complained if the tie had have been settled on penalties. Excellent goal line clearances from Godfrey and then an even more incredible one from James Bolton off a Lanzini effort showed the spirit and determination of Town to take it to spot kicks despite some being out on their feet. Penalties weren’t to come though as rookie Burke smashed home via the bar eight minutes from time to burst the Salopian bubble and set off hundreds more pesky washing up liquid inspired blobs around the former Olympic Stadium.
Town have proved over the two ties that they can more than compete against stronger teams. Despite the rotation Moyes used with his squad, the teams he put out would definitely compete at a mid-championship level and Town have more that matched them at times. If the unmentionable ‘P’ word does come to fruition from this remarkable season, Salop fans can rest assured that we would have the quality to compete but with a few more well thought out Hursty additions we would definitely compete comfortably, up a level.
West Ham United (5-3-2):
Hart, Byram (Zabaleta, 90), Oxford (Noble, 70), Ogbonna, Burke, Masuaku, Obiang, Cullen, Lanzini, Ayew (Arnautovic, 70), Martinez
Subs not used: Adrian (gk), Haksabanovic, Samuelsen, Makasi
Shrewsbury Town (5-3-2):
Henderson, Riley (Dodds, 74), Nsiala, Sadler, Beckles, Lowe (Bolton, 101), Ogogo, Godfrey, Nolan, Whalley (Rodman, 79), Payne (C Morris, 84)
Subs not used: MacGillivray (gk), John-Lewis, B Morris.
words Ian Evans, D3D4 Shrewsbury Town correspondent