West Brom too slick for weary Hammers at The Hawthorns
West Brom 4 West Ham 0
What a difference a week makes. Ahead of their Sunday lunchtime fixture at Burnley seven days ago, Brown Ideye was the biggest waste of money in West Brom history, the £10m flop signed last summer without Alan Irvine, the club's previous manager, having seen him play. Today, after spearheading Albion's push into the last eight of the FA Cup, the Nigerian is on his way to becoming a cult hero at The Hawthorns.
After scoring goals against Burnley and Swansea City, Brown added two more in Albion's comprehensive 4-0 victory over West Ham United yesterday as the five-time winners reached their first quarter-final since 2008. The irony of Ideye's impact will not have been lost on West Ham manager, Sam Allardyce. Had Tottenham Hotspur not blocked Allardyce's deadline-day move for Emmanuel Adebayor, Carlton Cole would have joined West Brom and Ideye would probably now be at a club in Qatar.
Ideye looked a player reborn here, combining impressively with Saido Berahino, and for his delighted manager, Tony Pulis, he is "like a new signing". The Welshman added: "People ask me what the difference is, and the difference is confidence - he has scored a goal and there is a weight off his shoulders."
The same can be said of a hard-working, well-organised Albion side who have lost just one of eight games since Pulis' arrival. Their improvement is testament to Pulis' powers of motivation and tactical acumen.
He noted afterwards that unlike his Crystal Palace team - who had pace down the flanks - Albion "have trickery but not pace so it is working a system that suits the players" and the fruit of that work was four goals from open play.
It was Brown who got the first after 20 minutes. When Aaron Cresswell tried to hook away Craig Gardner's crossfield ball, Craig Dawson charged the ball down and burst beyond Cresswell before crossing into the six-yard box for Ideye to tap in. James Tomkins, the last defender, appealed for offside and even TV replays were inconclusive.
Adrian tipped over a James Morrison shot and Gardner then struck the crossbar before Albion doubled their lead three minutes before the break. After Mark Noble was hassled out of possession by two Albion players, Morrison took over, launching a brilliant strike from 30 yards that kissed Adrian's fingertips on its way into the far corner. Ideye put the outcome beyond doubt 12 minutes after the restart. Although the 26-year-old just failed to connect with Chris Brunt's low cross, Stephane Sessegnon picked up the ball beyond the far post and his centre looped up off Cresswell for Brown to find the net with a deflected header.
It was a tame surrender from West Ham who did not threaten a goal until the 66th minute, when Gareth McAuley cleared a Diafra Sakho effort off the line. Over 5,000 fans had travelled up from London and there were chants of "F*** off Sam Allardyce" long before Berahino rounded off the scoring by whipping a shot past Adrian at his near post.
David Gold, the club's chairman, tweeted an apology to the fans afterwards but Allardyce described it as "a game too far" for his off-the-pace team, citing the drawn matches against Manchester United last Sunday and Southampton on Wednesday, when they played the final half-hour with ten men. "We couldn't cope with our injury list and our fixture list this week," said Allardyce, who was missing key men at both ends in James Collins, Winston Reid and Andy Carroll. West Ham had begun to dream of Wembley but yesterday became a nightmare summed up when substitute Morgan Amalfitano - condemned as "irresponsible" and "unprofessional" by Allardyce - was sent off after ten minutes on the pitch for putting a hand in the face of Chris Brunt as he received a yellow card for hacking down the same player.
Sunday Indo Sport