They finally finished at 10.35pm, through 210 minutes of FA Cup football over two ties and then 20 penalties, and you knew it was over when Adrian, the West Ham goalkeeper tore off his gloves before he took the winning spot-kick. The message was clear: this shoot-out ends here.
What a lot of fun in the old competition. It is not every day that you see a goalkeeper slide on his knees after scoring the winner in an FA Cup third round replay and the stewards have to hold back the crowd from the second potential pitch invasion of the night. Everton had staged a comeback with ten men to lead 2-1 in extra-time until Carton Cole, on as a substitute scored a late equaliser and the game had gone to a wonderful, prolonged penalty shoot-out in which both sides, on the whole, held their nerve.
With Steven Naismith and Stewart Downing having missed in the first five, it came down to the goalkeepers to decide it on sudden death spot-kicks. Everton’s goalkeeper Joel Robles, attempting mind-games with all of the West Ham penalty-takers, crashed his against the bar and Adrian dispatched his winning penalty. If he had not, they would have had to start again with the first two penalty-takers.
It was another disappointment for Roberto Martinez but at least the performances showed that the spirit which had sustained his team for so much of last season has not ebbed yet. With Aidan McGeady red-carded before the hour and Everton running out of steam, Martinez sent on substitute Kevin Mirallas who scored the equaliser, transformed the tie, made the second goal and very nearly got Everton their victory in extra-time before Cole’s intervention.
Everton were seeking just their second win in 12 games and at the very least they could say they avoided defeat. To West Ham, a place in the fourth round against Bristol City, who beat Doncaster in their replay. Behind to Enner Valencia’s goal early in the second half and with Sam Allardyce’s team dominant it was hard to envisage the comeback that Everton staged, but an equaliser from Mirallas and then another from Romelu Lukaku put Everton within minutes of a victory in extra-time.
The two sides had drawn 1-1 at Goodison Park a week earlier and Everton looked shot until Mirallas’ intervention in the second half. As for West Ham, they have not won a game since beating Leicester City in the Premier League on 20 December and were left hanging on until that old undependable Cole scored his third goal of the season. The Cup is not the priority for Allardyce, of course, but even so the manner in which his side threw away their lead will be a concern for the West Ham manager.
The two managers had selected close to their full-strength teams, with just Winston Reid missing from the West Ham team. For both of them a win was long overdue and in that respect it promised much as a cup-tie, if you were prepared to look beyond West Ham’s incongruous purple third kit worn for no better reason, it seemed, than they needed to shift a few replicas at the club shop.
There was a bright start to the game that turned out to be a misleading clue as to what the rest of the first half was to be about. Much of the rest of it was not the attacking, open game that had been promised in those early stages, instead often a confused picture in which possession was given up very easily indeed.
Everton might have taken the lead in the last few minutes of the half when Naismith headed down Lukaku’s cross from the left side and McGeady very nearly poked the loose ball past the goalkeeper Adrian. The away side would scarcely have deserved it, having allowed West Ham to make what running there was for much of the half.
For the home side, Stewart Downing was excellent, passing the ball better than any other. Andy Carroll did his ProZone statistics no harm with an energetic determination to run back into midfield when the mood took him, yet in front of goal, where it mattered most, he could not quite force matters.
His best chance came on 12 minutes when John Stones took it upon himself to dribble out of defence in the tradition of the great defensive liberos. Sadly for Stones, he did not get past Enner Valencia who pinched the ball away from him, dashed past Phil Jagielka and hit a shot from the right channel that Joel Robles did well to get something on. It looped goalwards and Carroll’s stretched header hit the post, whereupon the striker’s momentum took him headfirst into the Everton fans behind the goal.
The start of the second half and catastrophe for Martinez’s side, who conceded a soft goal and then lost McGeady to his second yellow card of the game. The goal was avoidable but once again, Valencia was permitted to just pull away from the Everton defence, this time Stones fully culpable. The Ecuadorian striker took him down the right channel and hit a right foot shot past Robles and into the far corner without Stones getting close.
It was no less than West Ham deserved, with both Carroll and Downing astute in the build-up and Everton predictably indecisive when it came to dealing with the attack. Then McGeady went for his second ill-advised tackle of the evening, this one on Mark Noble. It had not been a dirty game, not by any means, and McGeady had been the only player in the book at that point for a foul on Matt Jarvis.
For Martinez it was more of the rank bad luck that has beset him for more than two months. Nevertheless, his team at that point looked out of ideas in attack and vulnerable in defence. He substituted Muhamed Besic and Ross Barkley shortly afterwards, the latter looking nonplussed at his treatment.
It would be no exaggeration to say that the ten men of Everton looked a good deal more effective than the 11 who had played the first half. Mirallas, on for Barkley, gave them some more energy and he should have scored on 77 minutes when it needed James Tomkins to throw himself in front of the shot.
West Ham were wasteful themselves, especially when a good break by the substitute Morgan Amalfitano and Valencia came to nought. Robles saved well when James Collins headed goalwards with ten minutes left. They had let their opposition off the hook and the equaliser was duly dispatched. That was a free kick from Mirallas from the right channel. The West Ham goalkeeper left too much room at his near post and the Belgian found his spot well.
A routine victory had been interrupted and West Ham came back at the ten men to try to get a winner before extra-time. Mark Noble hit the post with a deceptive free-kick from wide on the left. Valencia had a header saved. Kevin Nolan, on for Alex Song, volleyed over his head and over the bar.
The ten men held on to extra-time and then, with their 3,000 fans sensing the possibility of victory, they scored their second. Lukaku had already missed from inside the six yard box when Mirallas, who had changed everything for Everton, came down the left and put one on a plate for his fellow Belgian to force over the line.
The pressure was on West Ham and, in the second period of extra-time, Allardyce tried one last roll of the dice. He sent on Cole for Collins and it was the striker who forced the ball over from close range for the equaliser. West Ham might have had the winning goal as Everton hung on in the latter stages and Robles was booked for time-wasting, but they simply could not force a goal. The penalties were the best part of the night.
West Ham (4-3-3): Adrian; Jenkinson, Collins (Cole 111), Tomkins, Cresswell; Downing, Noble, Song (Nolan 61); Valencia, Carroll, Jarvis (Jarvis 68).
Everton (4-4-1-1): Robles; Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Baines; McGeady, Besic (Oviedo 66), Barry, Naismith; Barkley (Mirallas 66); Lukaku.
Man of the match Mirallas.
Referee N Swarbrick.Reuse content