Stockport County 0-1 West Ham United
It was dogged, rough and ready, certainly not pretty, but had a number of the ingredients an old-school connoisseur wants from an FA Cup third-round tie.
Ok, ultimately, there was no shock, and of course, a packed crowd would have made the world of difference as opposed to a raucous firework display which brought the action to a temporary halt.
At times, West Ham United had to dig deep to match the determination of Vanarama National League promotion-hopefuls, Stockport County. But as the rain lashed down and the pitch became heavier, it was the Premier League outfit who took their chance and progressed to face Doncaster Rovers at the next stage.
There were a few eyebrows raised when David Moyes brought in the experienced defender, Craig Dawson, on loan from Watford in October. Initially, the 30-year-old took a back seat at the London Stadium. However, three appearances, playing his part in three clean sheets and a late headed winner in this his latest outing suggested the manager knew what he was doing.
Dawson’s 83rd-minute header – courtesy of a pinpoint Jarrod Bowen – was just enough for the East Londoners. Said Benrahma clipped the outside of an upright, but that aside Stockport stood fir, restricting the visitors’ largely throughout the contest.
Hammers assistant boss, Alan Irvine, faced the questions after witnessing his side squeeze through: “We obviously do a lot of work on set plays and we also need the plays to use their own initiative at times and they certainly did that,” the Scotsman explained.
“They took the corner quickly and delivered a great ball for a fantastic header. Everybody knows Craig has done that for many years, scoring headers like that, so that was pleasing to see him get his first goal for the club.”
Irvine added: “We’ve got a really, honest, hard-working group of players who have a lot of qualities and we’re trying to improve on the qualities that they already have.
“We will deal with Doncaster when that tie comes along and that will, without doubt, be another tough game for us.”
West Ham United return to Premier League action on Saturday, January 19 when Burnley are the visitors to the London Stadium (3pm).
Stockport County: Hinchliffe, Minihan (Thomas 86’), Keane, Hogan, Hitching, Maynard, C.Jennings (Southam-Hales 82’), Croasdale, Rooney (Hinchy 86), Williams (Palmer 86), Reid (Bennett 62’) Subs not used: Barnes, Gilmour, J.Jennings, Stott
West Ham United: Randolph, Coufal, Dawson, Ogbonna, Johnson (Cresswell 73’), Noble (Capt), Rice, Yarmolenko (Soucek 68’), Lanzini (Bowen 68’), Benrahma (Fornals 90’), Antonio (Odubeko 90’) Subs not used: Trott, Alves, Baptiste, Holland
Referee: Michael Dean
Assistants: Darren Cann and Daniel Robathan
Fourth Official: Kevin Friend