FA Cup: Shrewsbury 0 West Ham 0
PUBLISHED: 16:26 07 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:26 07 January 2018
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Hammers face replay at London Stadium
A gritty goalless draw at Montgomery Waters Meadow means that the Hammers live to fight another day in the FA Cup.
But on a day when they mustered just a couple of efforts on goal, David Moyes men could easily have found themselves sunk without trace in a torrid tie that saw their Premier League status count for nothing against the super-charged Shrews, who battled every inch of the way to a richly-deserved London Stadium re-match.
Back in 2003, Shrewsbury had provided Moyes with one of his darkest managerial moments, when they knocked his Everton team out of the competition in the Scot’s first-ever FA Cup tie in charge of the Toffees.
Certainly, having played for the Shrews, too, the Hammers boss was determined not to come unstuck this time around against his former side and, following Thursday evening’s derby draw with Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, Moyes went for a mixture of experience and youth.
With Reece Burke and Josh Cullen now back from their loan spells at Bolton Wanderers, the two youngsters earned call-ups, alongside André Ayew and home-grown skipper Joe Hart, who started upon his return to Town.
That saw Mark Noble, Manuel Lanzini and Pablo Zabaleta each rested, while substitute ‘keeper Adrián was joined on a fresh-faced bench by rookie, Vashon Neufville, an England U-16 international, who was named in a senior squad for the first time.
In a chilly, cagey opening quarter-hour played out in the Shropshire sunshine, the unprepared Hart had to borrow a cap from one of the 1,541 Hammers fans packed behind his goal, while Cullen delivered the Premier League side’s only real early threat with a left-wing centre that flashed across goal, before Carlton Morris headed Shrewsbury’s first corner of the game high over the bar.
A New Year’s Day victory over Oldham Athletic had put the soaring Shrews in second place in League One coming into this third-round tie and, with his side having lost just one of their 13 home league games, conceding just four goals along the way, Paul Hurst made a trio of changes as Morris, Ben Godfrey and Alex Rodman replaced substitutes Stefan Payne, Arthur Gnahoua and Bryn Morris.
With Shrewsbury showing no fear, on 25 minutes Hart bravely dived into Godfrey’s studs after Shaun Whalley’s free-kick was whipped towards the far post and, shortly afterwards, Omar Beckles volleyed just over from 20 yards.
At the other end, Burke sent a darting header comfortably into the clutches of Dean Henderson before Mat Sadler burst into the Hammers area and forced Hart to pull off a fine, low save ahead of Rodman also testing the England ‘keeper with another scorching 15-yarder.
Indeed, with the Shrews edging the first-half on points, the Hammers survived a frantic stoppage-time scramble to ensure that they still departed at the break, all square.
Just after the restart, the bloodied and bruised Sadler epitomised Shrewsbury’s commitment, when he departed only to return looking like an Egyptian mummy and, on the hour, Declan Rice’s vital touch denied the League One battlers at the expense of a corner.
With Javier Hernández getting little change up front against the heavily, head-bandaged Sadler and company, the chants of the despairing West Ham fans pleading for substitute Toni Martinez to appear were answered, when he replaced the frozen-out Mexican to make a long-overdue Hammers debut.
It was getting painful for the visitors and, indeed, Cullen suffered more than most when he lost a tooth in a nasty collision with Abu Ogogo but as West Ham’s medical team preserved it in a cup of milk, the Hammers were lucky to see substitute Max Lowe’s late, by-line cross scooped high into the Shropshire skies by Jon Nolan to somehow keep their own FA cup dreams alive with the chance of that home replay.
Shrewsbury: Henderson, Godfrey, Sadler, Beckles, Whalley (Gnahoua 87), Ogogo, Bolton, Nolan, Nsiala, Rodman (Lowe 75), Morris C (Payne 82). Unused subs: MacGillivrary, Dodds, John-Lewis, Morris B.
Hammers: Hart, Burke, Masuaku, Ogbonna, Reid (Quina 85), Rice, Obiang, Kouyaté, Cullen, Ayew, Hernández (Martinez 71). Unused subs: Adrián, Neufville, Makasi, Hakšabanović, Samuelson,