Football / Coca-Cola Cup: Moncur strike secures reward

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The Independent Online
West Ham United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Walsall. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

(after extra time; score at 90min 1-0; West Ham win 3-2 on aggregate)

ONLY in extra time, only when their supreme effort began to gnaw at Walsall's reserves of spirit and endeavour did West Ham's superiority begin to tell at Upton Park and enable them finally to remove the shadow of an humiliating Coca-Cola Cup dismissal which had been haunting them for two weeks.

For the reward of a place in today's third-round draw the Hammers were indebted to John Moncur's 94th-minute goal. Once again Moncur, who also scored the winner at Stamford Bridge on Sunday for their first away win of the season, proved the major influence on a side who were strangely slow to reveal their ability last night and seemed unable to believe they were three divisions higher than these doughty visitors with a notable giant-killing past.

Moncur, a bargain pounds 1m purchase in the summer, also had a major say in Don Hutchison's goal that took Walsall to that extra half-hour punishment after their heroics in the first leg. When Martin Allen crossed from the left Moncur beat his marker to a header and Hutchison, the third component in a midfield combination, stole in to beat Trevor Wood easily.

Even so the Premiership representatives were not entirely secure and while they continued to enjoy the greater possession it was Walsall, showing considerable enterprise on the break, who arguably had the better of the goalscoring chances.

All that was lacking was a decisive edge which would have put paid to West Ham once and for all.

'We were in a no-win situation and I'm just relieved to have got through,' the West Ham manager, Harry Redknapp, said. 'These are games that get you slaughtered, just ask Howard Wilkinson at Leeds about that.'

By the start of the additional 30 minutes Walsall had clearly expended their fiercest resistance and, with an extra purpose about their game, the Hammers made better use of the greater space they were afforded. After four minutes, following Keith Rowland's centre, Moncur cleverly shifted the point of attack and Hutchison struck the inside of a post with a low drive. Predictably the first to react was the ever-alert Moncur who had a simple task to stab the ball home.

Seven minutes later a wonderful reverse pass from the same player released Mike Marsh who appeared to have given West Ham a third goal - a rare luxury - but once more the ball cannoned back off the woodwork and, this time, to safety.

West Ham United (4-4-2): Miklosko; Breacker, Potts, Whitbread, Rowland; Allen, Bishop, Moncur (Brown, 119), M Marsh; Hutchison, Chapman. Substitutes not used: Jones, Feuer (gk).

Walsall (4-4-2): Wood; Ryder, Palmer, Watkiss, Rodgers; Mehew, Peer, O'Connor (Evans, 115), C Marsh (Ntamark, h-t); Lightbourne, Wilson. Substitute not used: Walker (gk).

Referee: J Holbrook (Shropshire).

(Photograph omitted)

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