West Ham pay the penalty for missed chances as they crash out of Capital One Cup
22:46 26 August 2014
The Hammers were beaten on penalties by League One Sheffield United at Upton Park
West Ham United 1 Sheffield United 1 (after extra time)
Sheffield United won 5-4 on penalties
The Hammers fans came to Upton Park to mock Sheffield United over the Carlos Tevez affair.
And how wasteful West Ham United could have done with the Argentinian ace in their side as they crashed out of the Capital One Cup at the first hurdle, following a dramatic penalty shoot-out that saw Michael Doyle’s spot-kick finally send the Blades into the third round draw, after £12m summer-signing, Enner Valencia’s effort had been saved.
This was the clubs’ first meeting since the 2007 Tevez-gate scandal, that saw the controversial Argentinian’s goals help West Ham United make the legendary Great Escape, while Sheffield United, who were sent tumbling out of the Premier League never to return, were left to console themselves with the multi-million pound fines and compensation claims incurred by the East Enders.
And seven years on, the battling Blades can also take further consolation from their performance in this tie that saw them take advantage of some poor home finishing to force extra-time and then penalties after Winston Reid’s 57th-minute own goal had cancelled out Diafra Sakho’s first-half opener.
Following Saturday’s morale-boosting victory at Selhurst Park, only Winston Reid and Ricardo Vaz Te kept their places as Sam Allardyce made nine changes from the side that had triumphed at Crystal Palace.
That meant full debuts for Sakho, Valencia and Diego Poyet, while 15-year-old Reece Oxford - a reported target for Manchester United - and fellow teenager Lewis Page were named on the bench.
Lying 12th in League One, Sheffield United had kicked off their campaign with two wins and two defeats and, following Saturday’s victory over Crawley Town, they made a trio of changes as Marc McNulty, Ryan Flynn and Neil Collins each came in for Jay McEveley, Jamie Murphy and Michael Higdon.
Certainly, the Hammers dominated the opening exchanges, but all they had to show for their efforts inside the opening quarter-hour was a weak, looping header from Valencia and an even more wayward 25-yarder from the recalled Ravel Morrison, who curiously chose to wear gloves on this mild August evening.
At the other end, Ben Davies headed wide for the visitors before sending over a near-post corner that Craig Alcock steered wide.
Midway through the half, Valencia forced the first save of the night, when he let fly with a low, 20-yard shot that Mark Howard gratefully gathered at the second attempt as the claret and blue shirts raced in for the kill.
Shortly afterwards, Poyet tried his luck with a cheeky chip from the edge of the area but his well-crafted effort was just too high.
Then, on the half-hour mark, Mohamed Diame invited Valencia to escape his markers but as the Ecuador World Cup striker raced in on goal, Howard brilliantly closed down the angle to make an equally assured close-range stop.
And when Morrison curled a free-kick around the Blades wall, the ‘keeper produced yet another fine stop to palm the ball aside for a corner, which young Reece Burke then side-footed into Howard’s clutches, once more.
When Morrison hit the Boleyn Ground grass on 36 minutes, most spectators in the highly-respectable 28,930 crowd expected to see referee James Linington point to the spot, however the official produced a yellow card for diving instead.
But five minutes before the break, West Ham did finally earn themselves an interval lead, when Burke sent a right-wing cross towards the edge of the six-yard box, where Sakho rose highest to steer his header looping into the far corner of the net.
With the Hammers simply looking too strong for the Blades, there looked to be no way back for Nigel Clough’s side but, on 57 minutes, they levelled in the most bizarre circumstances, when Bob Harris whistled a left-wing cross into the West Ham goalmouth, where Reid somehow contrived to knee the ball beyond Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Having just netted that own goal, the contrite Kiwi then appeared at the other end to send a close-range effort inches wide and, after Stewart Downing replaced Sakho, Vaz Te also went close before being replaced by Mauro Zarate.
Although Sheffield United forced a few counter-attacking half-chances, all eyes were still on West Ham and, eight minutes before the end of normal time, the determined Downing looked to have snatched it with a goal-bound 20-yard dipper but Howard somehow clawed the ball out from underneath his right-hand angle, to force an extra half-hour.
Morrison soon made way for Mark Noble as West Ham looked to finish what was becoming a heavily protracted job and, although Valencia’s angled curler flashed across the face of goal the defiant Blades also saw substitute McEveley’s shot scooped off the line by the newly-arrived skipper after Jaaskelainen fumbled.
In the second period of added time, Noble’s deep free-kick was diverted over for a corner by the back-pedalling Howard, who went on to save Valencia’s sizzling free-kick but by now, a penalty shoot-out was inevitable.
Having missed his last spot-kick on the opening day against Tottenham Hotspur, Noble duly buried the ghost and the ball with the opening kick, while Davies, Downing, Collins, Zarate, McNulty, Poyet and McEveley expertly netted the following seven penalties.
But Valencia then saw Hammers fifth effort saved by Howard to leave Davies netting the 10th and final kick to send the Blades into the third round.
HAMMERS: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Potts, Burke, Reid, Diame, Poyet, Morrison (Noble 97), Vaz Te (Zarate 79), Valencia, Sakho (Downing 63). Unused subs: Spiegel, Oxford, Lee, Page.
BLADES: Howard, Alcock, Harris (McEveley 73), McGahey, Collins, Davies, Flynn (Campbell-Ryce 84), Basham, Baxter (Wallace 99), Collins, Doyle. Unused subs: Turner, Wallace, Higdon, Reed.
Booked: Morrison (36), Doyle (90+1).
Referee: James Linington