|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
Nikica Jelavic scores late for West Ham to defeat Wolves on dismal day
Alan Smith at Upton Park
Date Published Saturday 9 January 2016 17.20 GMT
It would have sat uncomfortably with many West Ham fans if this was the last Cup match to be played at Upton Park, but Nikica Jelavic ensured they will be in the draw for the fourth round by scoring the only goal of a largely dismal contest five minutes from the end.
Kenny Jackett’s teams have never been easy to break down but for all of Wolves’ impressive resilience and organisation there was equally a shortage of imagination in the home ranks until the introduction of Andy Carroll 20 minutes from time.
That substitution led West Ham to revert to a 4-4-2 formation and the pressure eventually told, even if the build-up was a touch clumsy and came about after a soft defensive clearance.
Carroll provided the assist. He had tried to shoot from around 25 yards after a poor header away from Ethan Ebanks-Landell but only met fresh air. However, spotting Jelavic in space to his left, he guided the ball to the Croatian striker, who finished sweetly to the bottom-right corner for his first goal for the club.
“It was important” the West Ham manager, Slaven Bilic, said of the substitution. “We were patient, we didn’t lose our shape but changed our system because we needed an extra body in the box. Andy made a big impact.”
When Mauro Zárate, best remembered here for comically striking a free-kick straight at a one-man wall, was exchanged for Carroll it said much for the shortage of action that the loudest cheer before the goal arrived was when he was introduced.
Until that point West Ham were restricted to attempts from distance, the pick of them coming a minute before the break when Carl Jenkinson’s shot was touched over by Carl Ikeme. The Wolves goalkeeper also made routine saves from Pedro Obiang and Aaron Cresswell.
At the other end noteworthy action was even harder to come by. It took 51 minutes for an attempt to be registered, and even that deflected punt from Kevin McDonald was bread and butter for the West Ham goalkeeper, Darren Randolph.
Wolves sorely missed the Bournemouth-bound Benik Afobe and their deficiencies in attack were compounded when Bjorn Sigurdarson was carried off after going to ground without contact seven minutes into the second half. Sigurdarson was making his first start since December 2013 and had recently recovered from back surgery. “He collapsed with nobody near him,” Jackett said. “It’s his back again but I have no more information than that.”
The visitors enjoyed their best spell soon after that, forcing a succession of corners while Michal Zyro shot straight at Randolph, but the introduction of Dimitri Payet, continuing his return to full fitness after an ankle issue, also galvanised West Ham.
He zipped a free-kick narrowly over 10 minutes from the end. Some West Ham supporters, so eager for a goal, started celebrating when the ball hit the wrong side of the net after hitting a stanchion. But they only needed to wait five more minutes.
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS
WEST HAM (4-3-3): Randolph 6; Jenkinson 5, Collins 7.5, Reid 6.5, Cresswell 6.5; Obiang 6, Song 5.5, Noble 6 (Payet 66, 6); Zarate 7 (Carroll 71, 7), Jelavic 5.5 (Oxford 87), Antonio 6.5
Subs: Adrian, Ogbonna, Tomkins, Cullen
Manager: Slaven Bilic 6
WOLVES (4-1-4-1): Ikeme 7; Iorfa 6.5, Batth 7, Ebanks-Landell 6.5, Doherty 6.5; McDonald 6.5; Zyro 6.5 (Henry 81), Edwards 6, Coady 6, Van La Parra 6 (Graham 81); Sigurdarson 5 (Le Fondre 56, 5.5)
Subs: Martinez, Golbourne, Saville, Byrne
Manager: Kenny Jackett 6
Referee: Anthony Taylor 7
Man of the match: James Collins
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