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West Ham United 4-0 Doncaster Rovers
Ruthless West Ham United swept past League One Doncaster Rovers to book an Emirates FA Cup fifth-round meeting with either Liverpool or Manchester United.
These are changing times at West Ham. The team look competent and confident and they are led by a manager keen to rebuild his, and the clubs, reputation.
“I want to win the FA Cup if I can, I really do,” boss, David Moyes explained.
“I want to be strong in the Cup competitions, but I’ve also got to be mindful of the amount of games we’re playing.
“I think it’s really beginning to take its toll on so many clubs. We’ve been good with injuries and I want to keep it that way at the moment.”
It took the home side just short of two minutes to open the scoring. Pablo Fornals swept home from twelve yards after Ryan Fredericks had fashioned an opening from the left.
Manuel Lanzini and Andriy Yarmolenko passed up reasonable opportunities to finish the job before the ten-minute mark. Doncaster’s response was honest, but without threat – Andy Butler involved in what little the League One outfit had to offer during the opening stages.
But there was little doubt that the home side was in control. Said Benrahma delightfully played in Yarmolenko with the outside of his boot – The Ukrainian finishing with aplomb to double the advantage.
Balcombe did well to shovel out Benrahma’s fizzing dead-ball effort, then turn Lanzini’s drive around his left-hand post as West Ham menaced immediately after the restart.
Balcombe was keeping Rovers afloat. This time the stopper flipped over Tomas Souceck’s strike, then he flew across his goal to deny the Czech’s goalbound header. But he was powerless to prevent a third – Issa Diop flicking on – the unfortunate Butler turning into his own goal from close range.
To their credit, Darren Moore’s side refused to throw in the towel. Matt Smith clipped the top of the bar following a flowing move down the right.
West Ham handed a debut to striker, Oladapo Afolayan – the 23-year-old, who arrived from National League Solihull Moors in February 2018, replacing Soucek for the final twenty-minutes.
Lukasz Fabianski fisted out Cameron John’s fierce attempt as Rovers displayed a little more intent. But having been on the field for just seven minutes, Afolayan followed up to open his West Ham account after Balcombe had parried Frederick’s initial attempt.
Moyes used what time remained to blood goalkeeper Nathan Trott and defender Jamal Baptiste.
Balcombe – unquestionably, Doncaster’s Man of the Match – saved from Ben Johnson as the home side kept up their relentless assault.
West Ham United return to Premier League action on Tuesday, January 26 when they take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park (6pm). Then on Sunday 31, Liverpool are the visitors to the London Stadium (4:30pm).
West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski (Nathan Trott 84’), Fabian Balbuena, Andriy Yarmolenko, Said Benrahma, Manuel Lanzini, Mark Noble (Capt), Pablo Fornals, Issa Diop, Ryan Fredericks (Jamal Baptiste 84’), Tomas Soucek (Oladapo Afolayan 70’), Ben Johnson Subs not used: Aaron Cresswell, Vladimir Coufal, Craig Dawson, Angelo Ogbonna, Michail Antonio, Declan Rice
Goals: Pablo Fornals 2’, Andriy Yarmolenko 32’, Andy Butler (own-goal) 54’, Oladapo Afolayan 77’
Doncaster Rovers: Ellery Balcombe, Reece James, Brad Halliday, Andy Butler, Tom Anderson (Capt), Cameron John, Joe Wright, Matt Smith (Taylor Richards 64’), Fejiri Okenabirhie, Jon Taylor (Ed Williams 70’), Jason Lokilo (Elliot Simoes 64’) Subs not used: Louis Jones (GK), Ben Blythe, Danny Amos, Liam Ravenhill
Referee: Robert Jones
Assistants: Harry Lennard and Peter Kirkup
Fourth Official: Keith Stroud
VAR: Martin Atkinson
Assistant VAR: Sian Massey-Ellis