Fans' Opinion

Match Report – Newport County

Author: . Published: at 7:58pm

Newport 0 – West Ham United 2

Written by : Trevor Twohig

West Ham United avoided a potential banana skin with a 2-0 away victory in the second round of the Carabou Cup.

After last season’s dismal defeat at the hands of AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup, alarm bells rang loudly for West Ham fans as the draw was announced. This is after all a team that had previously knocked out Leicester FC in last year’s FA Cup and Leeds United in the Carabou; it was a task not to be taken lightly.

Manuel Pellegrini shuffled his pack significantly after the weekend’s win at Watford FC, yet still fielded a cautiously senior side. That said, the ever-reliable Lukasz Fabianski made way for new singing Roberto in goal.

The defence saw the return of Fabien Balbuena alongside the ever-present Issa Diop, while Aaron Cresswell and 34-yearold Pablo Zabaleta came in at full back.

The midfield was made up of Jack Wilshere, Pablo Fornals and Carlos Sanchez, with Michail Antonio and Robert Snodgrass on the flanks.

The most exciting addition seemed to be the one of Albian Ajeti up top, who has been reported as having a great deal of promise.

The match started brightly for the home side, who were understandably up for it, leaving West Ham players little time on the ball. In particular the work rate of Abrahams up top was causing Diop significant issues and problems. Once again, West Ham’s defence looked incredibly vulnerable as The Exiles pressed forward.

This was not helped by the hamstring injury of Antonio early on, causing more anxiety for the away fans as Felipe Anderson was brought into the fray.

In particular it was the set piece where they looked most dangerous, but like the Watford game on Saturday, somehow the ball managed to stay out of the net and the Hammers were able to get a foothold in the game.

As seems to be the way these days, West Ham can look Brazil-esque in moments and like a Sunday u12 match in others. In particular, it was Jack Wilshere who could not seem to find a team mate five yards from him, for love nor money.

However, after misplacing another ball high up the pitch, he chased down hard, causing a defensive error from the Newport centre back. This left him one on one with Townsend and Wilshere promptly slotted home for the away side’s opening goal.

This was a welcome relief for a side whose defensive frailties were being tested by a powerful and aggressive Newport side.

Half time could not come soon enough and West Ham managed to take the lead into the interval.

No changes at half time, but there was continued huff and puff from Newport, spurred on by the Amber Army.

However, there was a renewed vigour from West Ham who had more of an impact as time went on. Anderson looked a class above in parts and was causing havoc on the left side of attack. On 65 minutes, he accelerated past the defender and cut the ball across the six-yard area, Ajeti appeared to be pushed and thus missed the ball, but it didn’t matter as Fornals was in the right place to slot home his first goal for West Ham.

His celebration showed how much it meant and in effect this was game over as the home side lost their momentum.

Promising youngster Connor Coventry came in and showed glimpses of electric pace and awareness. However, an error in defence let the home side through and, rather than open their account, Sheehan slammed the ball against the crossbar and it really felt like game over from that point.

There were many highlights from the game, not least Wilshere’s and Fornals’ first goals for the club. In addition the much-maligned Carlos Sanchez had an authoritative game in the centre of the park. Diop grew in confidence and stature as time went on and Roberto looked solid between the sticks.

Ajeti had a difficult game and was unable to contend with the physicality of the lower league opposition. However, I am sure his time will come.

The third round draw is on Wednesday night. Sadly Millwall are eliminated, but hopefully two wins in a row will give Irons fans confidence that a cup run could be on the cards this year.

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