West Ham United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
ANY MATCH that requires Sherlock to mark Holmes can be expected to provide a measure of suspense and this one had both sets of supporters alternately on the edge of their seats. In the end, solving the mystery of why County, with a dreadful away record, are so difficult to beat at home was beyond West Ham, although the replay ought to tax them less.
After surviving the urgency of County's early raiding, the Londoners imposed their authority as a Premiership side should, their midfield unit mobile enough to confront the home team with a wall of light blue when under attack yet providing Lee Chapman and the energetic Steve Jones with a broad sweep of support when they broke forward.
And yet they could not add the finish to make their superiority tell. Steve Cherry, the County goalkeeper, brought off two excellent saves in the first half, first to keep out a diving header by the brave Chapman, then to deny Jones a goal from a swerving shot propelled sweetly with the outside of his right boot, but was not tested so seriously again.
The first half eventually owed more to Tales of the Unexpected, County gaining a 38th- minute lead just as West Ham, whose vocal supporters made up a third of a 15,000 crowd, sensed the pendulum was swinging their way. Ludek Miklosko, marring an otherwise sound performance, fumbled his attempt to collect Meindert Dijkstra's speculative long ball, his eye perhaps distracted by Tony Agana's move to challenge. The ball spilled to Gary Lund, just outside the penalty area, and the County forward struck it perfectly to clear goalkeeper and covering defenders and drop into the unguarded goal.
Moments later, West Ham scrambled back an untidy equaliser in which Jones, keeping his place after scoring against Norwich last Monday in only his second outing of the season, displayed poor close control and decisive finish almost in one movement. Betrayed by his first touch when a loose ball bobbled to him, he then had the good fortune to have it bounce perfectly for him off a defender's thigh and, pivoting through 180 degrees, smashed it into the roof of the County net.Reuse content