West Ham survive big scare to progress in Carabao Cup
PUBLISHED: 22:07 28 August 2018 | UPDATED: 22:07 28 August 2018
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The Hammers come from behind to beat 10-man Wimbledon
AFC Wimbledon 1 West Ham United 3
The Hammers certainly were not Top of the Pops on an out of tune night at The Cherry Red Records Stadium, where three goals in the final half-hour finally silenced the dogged Dons.
Neil Ardley’s plucky League One side snatched a shock opener inside the first two minutes thanks to Joe Pigott’s header and, although Wimbledon were reduced to ten men just after the quarter-hour mark, when Rod McDonald was dismissed for two quick-fire bookings, Manuel Pellegrini’s men just could not hit the right notes.
But in the end, second-half goals from central defenders Issa Diop – his first for the club – and Angelo Ogbonna, clawed the East Enders ahead before Javier Hernández added a flattering third in stoppage time.
Rock bottom of the Premier League after an opening hat-trick of defeats, the £100 million Hammers had arrived at Kingsmeadow looking for their first victory of the season against a League One side, sitting 39 places below them.
Despite Saturday’s disappointing defeat at the Emirates Stadium, there had certainly been some encouraging signs that Pellegrini was starting to find the right blend of personnel but, following that reverse at Arsenal, the Chilean mixed it up again, making no fewer than nine changes as only Diop and Robert Snodgrass retained their shirts.
With one win and two draws from their opening five league fixtures, by contrast, Dons boss Ardley only made a quartet of changes from the side that had lost to high-flying Sunderland at the weekend as McDonald, Tyler Garratt, Anthony Hartigan and Scott Wagstaff each earned recalls to face last season’s quarter-finalists.
The Dons’ had cleared the opening hurdle a fortnight ago with victory over Portsmouth to find themselves kicking off in the second round of this competition for the first time in their brief, 16-year history.
And as they looked to cause a major upset in front of the rolling Sky TV cameras, the third-tier side simply wasted no time making their physical presence felt against Pellegrini’s Premier League side, who were clearly not prepared for the early onslaught that saw the underdogs take a sensational lead inside the opening two minutes.
After giant James Hanson forced an early corner, Mitch Pinnock floated the flag-kick to the edge of the six-yard box, where another man-mountain, Pigott, roared past all in his path to send a powerful header scorching through Adrián’s right-glove and into the top corner.
As everyone in Claret & Blue looked high into the Surrey skies in sheer shock, the Dons danced with delight at the thought of the sun setting on the Hammers cup hopes.
With the stunned Hammers still trying to pick themselves up off the canvas, Snodgrass nodded tamely to Tom King before then feeling the full force of the consequently-cautioned McDonald’s lunge on the halfway line, while Andriy Yarmolenko wastefully spooned another effort high over the top for the clearly rattled visitors.
After collecting an early yellow card himself, Pedro Obiang finally forced King into his first meaningful save of the evening with a low 20-yarder before Yarmolenko then sent one into the ‘keeper’s clutches from similar range.
Undaunted, Wimbledon were looking comfortable in defence, competitive in midfield and courageous in attack but, with just 17 minutes on the clock, McDonald recklessly collected his second booking inside the space of five minutes for an over-zealous slide on Hernández as the Mexican sped to the edge of the 18-yard line.
Referee Tim Robinson immediately produced a second yellow card for the dejected Don, who was still disappearing down Kingsmeadow’s tunnel of shame, when Aaron Cresswell deposited the consequent free-kick into the home fans.
Luckless goal-scorer Pigott was sacrificed as Will Nightingale stepped form the bench to shore up the hole created in the Wimbledon defence by McDonald’s departure and, although Yarmolenko threatened with an awkward low right-wing cross into the danger-zone and another looping, far post header that was cleared off the line, those ten men survived to keep their lead intact at the break.
Felipe Anderson replaced Obiang for the restart and quickly sent in a low left-wing ball that King comfortably smothered before the Brazilian substitute embarked on a sublime samba to the by-line before crossing to Hernández, whose jack-knife header was saved by the alert Dons’ ‘keeper.
Anderson was single-handedly trying to inject some energy into the Hammers Carabao Cup campaign and, as the hour-mark approached, Pellegrini’s record £43million signing unleashed a 20-yarder that ripped into the side-netting.
Yarmolenko steam-rolled his way to the by-line but the in-rushing Hernández could only bundle wide with the goal at his mercy as the ten-men breathed a huge sigh of relief, once more.
But that was to prove brief respite for, on 62 minutes, Diop collected the ball 25 yards out and let fly with a simply unstoppable shot that scorched waist-high through the August air before almost ripping the net off its hooks.
West Ham’s relief at levelling was there for all to see and, just two minutes after netting that sizzler, Diop was back in the Dons’ area causing yet more damage to the goal-frame when he met Cresswell’s corner with a thumping header that was not far short of splintering the crossbar.
As the tie moved into its closing quarter, the Hammers were camped deep in Wimbledon territory, where Yarmolenko, Lucas Perez and Hernández each found themselves ambushed inside the danger-zone.
With just seven minutes remaining, though, Snodgrass saw his 20-yarder deflected wide and when the Scottish wide-boy floated the consequent corner into the six-yard box, Ogbonna got the better of Deji Oshilaja to toe-poke a very fortunate West Ham United side ahead to the relief of the 713 travelling fans, who had been preparing themselves for penalties.
And in stoppage time, Hernández ghosted into the box, where he drew both King and the retreating Nightingale to confirm the Hammers place in the fourth-round draw with a low, spinning eight-yarder that squirmed through the ‘keeper’s clutches before spinning across the line.
DONS: King, Sibbick, Garratt, Oshilaja, McDonald, Pinnock (Wordsworth 67), Hartigan, Trotter, Wagstaff, Hanson (Appiah 78), Pigott (Nightingale 25). Unused subs: McDonnell, Purrington, Thomas, Barcham.
HAMMERS: Adrián, Zabaleta, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Diop, Rice, Obiang (Anderson h/t), Snodgrass, Yarmolenko (Masuaku 89), Perez (Antonio 30), Hernández. Unused subs: Fabianski, Balbuena, Cullen, Holland.
Booked: Obiang (10), McDonald (12)
Sent-Off: McDonald (17)
Referee: Tim Robinson