West Ham huff and puff but Shrewsbury earn a replay

Sides will have to do it again after West Ham became the latest top flight team to slip up

Shrewsbury Town’s James Bolton pokes past West Ham United’s Joe Hart during their FA Cup clash. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Shrewsbury Town’s James Bolton pokes past West Ham United’s Joe Hart during their FA Cup clash. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters

 

Shrewsbury Town 0 West Ham United 0

West Ham United will not relish a replay against Shrewsbury Town, and not only because of the imposition on their schedule. The League One team proved pesky opponents for their Premier League visitors, who never looked superior to Paul Hurst’s team.

Joe Hart had hoped to make a triumphant return to the town of his birth but a clean sheet was the extent of his success. It was an uncomfortable outing all-round for David Moyes’ men. Hart evidently forgot to pack appropriate headwear so shortly after kick-off, in order to shield his eyes from the low-hanging sun, he had to don a cap thrown to him by one of the travelling fans. Hart is perhaps Shrewsbury’s most famous son after Charles Darwin and the theory soon evolved that if this clash was to be about the survival of the fittest, then the underdogs would prevail.

Shrewsbury were by far the more vigorous side, robust in the tackle and dynamically mean with the amount of space offered to their supposedly superior opponents. This was West Ham’s third match in six days and David Moyes redeployed seven of the players who drew with Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday, the only non-regulars being Reece Burke and Josh Cullen, a pair of 21-year-olds recently returned from loan stints at Bolton Wanderers.

Most of Moyes’s troops did not look like they relished this duel. After Cheikh Kouyate failed to get a telling touch to a dangerous cross by Cullen in the ninth minute, any whiff of a first-half breakthrough by the away team vanished. The Premier League side displayed next to no fluidity and found it as hard to create openings against their hosts as most League One teams have done this season, with Shrewsbury having conceded only four goals in their 12 home league matches this season. Javier Hernandez, West Ham’s lone striker, got only a few more touches than anyone in the 9,535-strong crowd before being substituted in the second half.

Paul Hurst’s men were more than committed and compact – they also showed themselves to be nimble passers and movers. And, as the first half progressed, they forced Hart, at least, into earnest action. The keeper’s first save, admittedly, was more straightforward than it might have been, the goalkeeper needing only to fall on the ball to snaffle a scuffed effort by Ben Godfrey after West Ham’s failed to deal with a free-kick by Shaun Whalley.

Mat Sadler’s shot in the 35th minute packed much more power and demanded a solid save from Hart, who had to repeat it moments later when Alex Rodman let fly from a similar position at the left-hand corner of the West Ham box.

The Premier League team managed to secure slightly more possession in the second half but it would be going too far to suggest they enjoyed it. Nor did they muster any sort of flourish that might have given the travelling fans cause to cheer. Shrewsbury looked to be their equals, at least, and for that caps must be doffed to Hurst and his team. Jon Nolan, the classiest performer on the day, nearly crowned the hosts’ display by nicking a winning goal near the end, but he was unable to keep his shot down from six yards out after a cross from the left hurtled at him through a slew of bodies. – Guardian service

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