West Ham United trudged away in despair, the Second Division's Stockport County savoured not only their passage to the quarter-finals of the Coca- Cola Cup but also another demonstration of their boundless ambition.
They proudly tell you in these parts that, apart from Liverpool, County are the only English club with sights on four trophies. All right, so a couple of their objectives may be rather more modest than those of Roy Evans' charges, but you get the point.
West Ham certainly did. Their early flourish, all poise and panache, was stifled as the conditions deteriorated and their plight grew ever more desperate. Their last throw was to deploy Marc Rieper as a striker and, with a header of genuine conviction, he might have sustained his side's interest in this replay.
By then the damage had been done, some of it self-inflicted, and three times on the break in the second half Alun Armstrong ought to have ensured his colleagues and a near-hysterical crowd were spared the anxiety of the closing minutes.
Incident and drama stretched across this sodden landscape from the first minute to the last, but the three goals were squeezed into six minutes midway through the first half. The advantage claimed by Julian Dicks' power header was almost instantly wiped out by Ian Dowie's third goal in two matches, as he followed up two for Northern Ireland on Saturday with an inexplicable headed own goal. Before West Ham could recover Brett Angell had given Stockport what proved a decisive lead with a rather more measured header to earn his side a home tie against Southampton.
Dave Jones, the Stockport manager, said: "For twenty minutes they caused us problems, but in the end we deserved it. We were always going to get chances on the break and a third goal would have made life easier for me. But it's a great feeling to be in the quarter-final. Now we have to be at our best again against Southampton."
Dowie departed after 37 minutes to nurse an ankle injury as well as emotional wounds. He said: "I'm gutted. It was just one of those nights. Nothing went right."
Stockport County (4-4-2): Jones; Connelly, Flynn, Gannon, Todd; Durkan, Bennett, Marsden, Cavaco (Dinning, 87); Angell, Armstrong. Substitutes not used: Edwards (gk), Charana.
West Ham United (4-4-2): Miklosko; Bowen, Bilic, Rieper, Dicks; Hughes, Moncur, Bishop, Porfirio; Dumitrescu, Dowie (Williamson, 37). Substitutes not used: Mautone (gk), Rowland.
Referee: U Rennie (Sheffield).Reuse content