Disaster averted as Grant gamble pays off

West Ham United 2 Barnsley 0: Fresh legs have desired effect in giving West Ham's manager a longer run

As the man who took Portsmouth to the FA Cup final last May, Avram Grant knows all about the old competition's ability to allow an escape from the grimmest of realities.

It remains to be seen whether this advance into the fourth round is anything more, or indeed less, than a stay of execution. And from this distance it is still easy to envisage the lifeline tying itself into a noose. But it was another disaster averted for the manager whose employment was placed under such scrutiny by the 5-0 defeat at Newcastle which hauled West Ham back into the bottom three.

Saying that, the day began ominously for Grant as Karren Brady, the club's vice chairman, all but admitted in her national newspaper column the manager had been overruled on the proposed Steve Sidwell transfer from Aston Villa, saying West Ham had enough midfielders. Grant smiled wryly when asked about this apparent undermining. "All I will say is I will never make this mistake again," he said. "I spoke about it before the deal was done because I thought it had been done."

He vowed to concentrate only on the football and with Birmingham arriving for the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final on Tuesday there is much to focus on. Indeed, yesterday, there was a palpable feeling of a bigger Cup tie to follow; both in the attendance – many thousands down on the average – and Grant's starting XI. If he was a manager fighting for his career then he took one Russian roulette of a gamble by changing eight of the team who stumbled so spectacularly. But then, the shake-up did have the desired response.

Grant needed no warning about the potential for embarrassment, especially against Barnsley. It was at Oakwell three years ago where the Championship side knocked out Grant in the Cup quarter-finals, and he had the might of Chelsea at his disposal back then.

In truth, these Tykes were mere scamps compared to their 2008 predecessors. Although they did have a couple of grievances to console themselves with on the long trip back to Yorkshire; hitting the bar in the final minute before West Ham scored their second and, earlier, the referee turning away what seemed a certain penalty. But commendably, their manager was having none of it. "You might say we came within a crossbar of getting a replay, but in fact we came within six saves of losing 7-0," said Mark Robins.

West Ham would not have been unworthy of a 4-0 half-time lead, yet all they had to show for their considerable efforts was Jonathan Spector's goal after 29 minutes. The former Manchester United man took it nicely – a clinical finish off the excellent Mark Noble's pass – which is infinitely more than could be said of Zavon Hines 10 minutes later. A fine move involving Pablo Barrera and Noble set up the England Under-21 international with an open goal from three yards. But he hesitated and then found the diving frame of the brilliant Luke Steele.

To a much lesser extent, Frank Nouble, Victor Obinna and Barrera were also guilty of profligacy and it served to give Barnsley an undeserved sniff. They believed they had grasped the opportunity when the substitute Jacob Butterfield, on the pitch all of a minute, went down under a crude challenge from Winston Reid. Neil Swarbrick thought differently and West Ham were startled back into action.

Nouble fluffed another, Steele made a brilliant double save from Barrera and Hines and the final seconds witnessed moments of classic FA Cup. First Adam Hammill watched a deflected strike loop over Robert Green and crash off the crossbar and, as his hands were in his head in despair, the substitute Frédéric Piquionne was blazing it high into the net at the other end. Cruel on Barnsley, kind on Grant. How he will pray the fates, and yes the board, retain their patronage.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick

Man of the match: Steele

Match rating: 6/10

Attendance: 32,159

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum