West Ham avoid League Cup banana skin as Wilshere inspires them to victory over Newport
PUBLISHED: 22:03 27 August 2019 | UPDATED: 22:05 27 August 2019
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Hammers win marred by injury to Antonio
Carabao Cup Second Round
Newport County 0 West Ham United 2
It all ended cushty for the Hammers at Rodney Parade, where Manuel Pellegrini's men safely progressed into the Carabao Cup third-round thanks to goals from Jack Wilshere and Pablo Fornals.
With West Ham having been knocked-out of the FA Cup by Newport County four decades ago, the Sky TV cameras had arrived in South Wales hoping for another big upset, but clinical finishing ultimately ensured that the Chilean's Premier League side did not end up looking like plonkers.
Instead, with an even first-half looking all set to end blank, Wilshere netted his first-ever goal for the club on 43 minutes to give the Hammers the upper hand, before Fornals also opened his account for the club midway through the second period to see off the threat of the Exiles, who certainly had their moments in an entertaining tie.
Following his side's wonderful win at Watford on Saturday, Pellegrini made wholesale changes to the team that had notched Hammers first victory of the season as sole-survivor, Issa Diop, found himself lining up alongside no fewer than 10 new faces for this clash with a Newport side sitting 59 places below them in the league pyramid.
That meant debuts for former Espanyol goalkeeper Roberto and striker Albian Ajeti - an £8million capture from FC Basel - while the weekend's two-goal hero, Sebastién Haller found himself on the bench…just in case there was to be any hint of the fate that be-fell West Ham here in South Wales back in January 1979.
And it was Roberto, who found himself in action early on, as he stooped low to gather the impressive Robbie Willmott's low, in-swinging free-kick before the Harlow-born winger then forced the Spaniard to collect another looping cross into the danger-zone.
Having dramatically beaten Crewe Alexandra in stoppage time to climb into fifth-spot in League Two at the weekend, the Exiles opted to exile just one of Saturday's victors as goalkeeper Nick Townsend replaced substitute, Tom King.
On eight minutes, the Newport stopper looked all set for his first action of the night as Fornals released Michail Antonio from half-way but, worryingly, the distressed Hammer pulled up lame, holding his hamstring, while immediately signalling to the bench that he needed to retire.
That unfortunate injury gave Felipe Anderson an early opportunity to step from the bench and, on 14 minutes, West Ham did finally threaten as Aaron Cresswell cut back to an off-balance Fornals, who scuffed his low, 12-yarder onto the left-hand post.
Shortly afterwards, Robert Snodgrass raced on to Ajeti's clever backheel before firing a low 15-yard effort into Townsend's clutches and, with Pellegrini's composed team playing patient possession football in front of the County defence, the home side's early intensity and incisiveness looked to be evaporating.
Midway through the half, however, they raised the tempo once more, as Tristan Abrahams burst into the heart of the West Ham defence before squaring to the supporting Padraig Amond, but the Newport striker wastefully fired into the shins of the relieved Roberto from 10 yards.
After forcing the first corner of the evening, Newport then had another chance to break the deadlock but, this time around, Abrahams - six yards out - could not make contact with Willmott's corner and the Hammers keeper gratefully grabbed the loose ball.
Shortly afterwards, Corey Whitely sent a low right-wing rocket scorching across the face of goal and, with West Ham now finding themselves back on the defensive, Roberto also held Josh Sheehan's 25-yard free-kick.
In reply, Wilshere curled wide from 20 yards, while the ball did not fall kindly for skipper Pablo Zabaleta, who came within an awkward bounce of claiming his first-ever West Ham goal.
Despite having some 70% possession during the opening 43 minutes, there had been little to suggest that there were those 59 places separating the two teams but just as the first-half looked all set to end in stalemate, the Hammers did finally break the deadlock.
Ever-alert, Wilshere robbed centre-half Kyle Howkins on the edge of the Exiles area before coolly advancing into the box and slotting a low, 12-yarder past the helplessly exposed Townsend.
The breaking Fornals should also have added a second in stoppage-time but with just the Newport keeper to beat, the twice-capped Spanish international's shot was brilliantly parried away to still leave the underdogs with some second-half hope.
Just after the interval, Carlos Sánchez marauded forward before finding the overlapping Zabaleta, whose cross was headed over by Ajeti from close range, while at the other end, the ever-threatening Willmott's low right-wing centre only needed a stud but the stretching Abrahams failed to make contact on the goal-line.
Ajeti then nodded a deep corner from Snodgrass agonisingly wide before Wilshere tried to release the Swiss international but Townsend raced from his line to gather, but a second West Ham goal certainly seemed to be bubbling under.
Sure enough, on 65 minutes, Anderson weaved his way to the edge of the County's six-yard box where he hit the Welsh turf, but with referee Stephen Martin waving away the penalty appeal, the Brazilian's frustration was quickly forgotten as the loose ball fell to Fornals, who lashed home from a couple of yards.
Having just doubled their lead, West Ham were then thankful to Roberto, who tipped Howkins' thumping header on to the top of the crossbar, before another full-length save denied the towering Exiles centre-half again.
Ryan Haynes also curled wide and Sheehan struck the woodwork, but the Newport revival had come far too late to prevent the Hammers ball from going into tomorrow night's third-round draw.
EXILES: Townsend, McNamara, Haynes, Hawkins, O'Brien, Willmott (Collins 81), Dolan (Bennett 64), Whitely (Maloney 64), Sheehan, Amond, Abrahams. Unused subs: King, Leadbitter, Ekpiteta, Inniss.
HAMMERS: Roberto, Zabaleta, Cresswell, Balbuena, Diop, Sánchez, Wilshere (Coventry 82), Snodgrass, Antonio (Anderson 8), Fornals, Ajeti. Unused subs: Fabiański, Ogbonna, Haller, Rice, Johnson.
Referee: Stephen Martin.