Oxford United 4-0 West Ham United
WEST HAM UNITED’S participation in this season’s Carabao Cup was brought to a shuddering conclusion as they were humiliated by four unanswered goals by Sky Bet League One outfit, Oxford United.
Few of the 1,500 travelling fans could have envisaged what was to follow. As was the case in their second-round tie at Newport County, Manuel Pellegrini made a series of changes to his starting line-up – most notably, Jack Wilshere, Pablo Zabaleta, and Robert Snodgrass were all handed starts as the east Londoners hoped for a place – as it turned out, unsuccessfully – in the competitions fourth round.
League One Oxford warmed up for the tie with an impressive six-goal demolition of Lincoln City. However, they survived an early scare when stopper, Simon Eastwood, used his feet to good effect, snubbing out Nathan Holland after the Hammers youngster had driven in from the left. The home side responded, but Cameron Brannagan fluffed his lines, scuffing wide following a free-flowing move involving Rob Hall and Jamie Mackie.
Anthony Forde passed up another decent opportunity for the U’s – dragging wide of an upright after being sent clear. But they were dealt a blow when George Thorpe left the field with his arm in a sling following a robust, but fair, challenge from Carlos Sanchez.
Holland and Jack Wilshere forced smart saves from Eastwood, while in between Hall went even closer – his fizzing free-kick clipping the frame of the goal as the sides exchanged reasonable opportunities in a competitive but otherwise unremarkable opening period.
But within ten minutes of the restart, Oxford snatched the advantage. Defender, Elliott Moore, found himself in an advanced position – steadied himself, turned and fired low across Roberto and into the bottom corner of the Hammers net.
Oxford’s tails were up. Mackie and Hall both went close to doubling their lead. Pellegrini – clearly concerned – sent on Sebastien Haller and Felipe Anderson in a bid to save the tie.
But it was the home side who were looking the more likely. Substitute Matty Taylor had only been on the field for just over a minute when he arrived at the far post to turn in a tremendous ball from Mark Sykes.
It had been a woeful night for West Ham and their misery was compounded further when Arthur Masuaku slipped, allowing Tariqe Fosu the chance to race clear, dribble around the stranded Roberto and plant the U’s third goal of the night into an empty net.
The West Ham support was largely now on their way home. However, the home crowd lapped it up and their side was not finished! Shandon Baptiste capped an impressive performance with a stoppage-time fourth – It had been a night for the Premier League outfit to forget.
West Ham United now turn their attention back to the Premier League, facing AFC Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday, September 28 (3pm).
Oxford United: Simon Eastwood, Josh Ruffels, Rob Dickie, Elliott Moore, Rob Hall (Tariqe Fosu 79’), Cameron Brannagan, Sam Long, Anthony Forde, Shandon Baptiste, Jamie Mackie (Capt) (Matty Taylor 69’), George Thorne (Mark Sykes 21’) Subs not used: Jack Stevens (GK), Ben Woodburn, Dan Agyei, Nico Jones
Booked: Elliott Moore (foul)
Goals: Elliott Moore 54’, Matty Taylor 70’, 82’
West Ham United: Roberto, Pablo Zabaleta (Capt), Fabian Balbuena, Issa Diop, Arthur Massuaku, Carlos Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Pablo Fornals (Felipe Anderson 65’), Robert Snodgrass (Mark Noble 74’), Nathan Holland (Sebastien Haller 56’), Albian Ajeti Subs not used: Lukasz Fabianski (GK), Aaron Cresswell, Goncalo Cardoso, Conor Coventry
Booked: Robert Snodgrass (foul)
Referee: Robert Jones
Assistants: Nigel Lugg and Mark Russell
Fourth Official: Mark Pottage
Attendance: 10,450 (1,513 from West Ham)
Reaction to follow…