A late header from Craig Dawson sends West Ham into the FA Cup fourth round as the visitors scraped past non-league Stockport in a 1-0 victory at Edgeley Park.
West Ham dominated possession but did little with it in the first half as Stockport impressively stood firm. Said Benrahma, Andriy Yarmolenko and Declan Rice all saw long shots fly wide on the soaked, muddy pitch at Edgeley Park. The game was briefly halted midway through the half by referee Mike Dean when Stockport fans let off fireworks outside the stadium.
The best chance of the opening 45 minutes landed to Benrahma in the seventh minute, but his curled strike from just inside the area clipped off the outside of the post.
The rain continued to pour down in the second period and neither side were able to create any meaningful chances for the majority of it on the sodden pitch. Stockport became more adventurous as the tie progressed with Connor Jennings and substitute Richie Bennett both having shots blocked inside the West Ham box.
After long periods of tireless Stockport defending, David Moyes' men eventually got the winner in the 82nd minute through central defender Dawson. He met Jarrod Bowen's cross and thumped his header into the bottom corner - his first goal for the club - to seal their place in the next round where they will meet Doncaster Rovers on the weekend of January 23-24.
TALKING POINT - Stockport were excellent
It was an attritional affair on the sodden Edgeley Park turf and eventually West Ham did come out on top, but Stockport will be delighted with their display and their fans can have no complaints with the effort put in.
The National League side defended resolutely throughout and really made their financially superior opponents work extremely hard to eek out a result.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Richie Bennett
Bennett put in a fine display up top for the hosts after coming off the bench just past the hour mark.
The 29-year-old's hold-up play to relieve pressure was admirable and he helped kick-start some attacking moves for the non-league side, who grew into the game thanks to his all-round contribution.
Stockport: Hinchliffe (7), Minihan (7), Hogan (6), Maynard (6), Rooney (6), Jennings (6), Williams (6), Kitching (6), Keane (6), Croasdale (6), Reid (6)
Subs: Bennett (8), Southam-Hales (N/A), Palmer (N/A), Thomas (N/A), Hinchy (N/A)
West Ham: Randolph (5), Coufal (7), Dawson (6), Ogbonna (6), Johnson (5), Noble (5), Rice (6), Yarmolenko (5), Benrahma (6), Lanzini (5), Antonio (5)
Subs: Bowen (7), Soucek (7), Cresswell (6)
7' - OFF THE POST! Rice dinks a ball into the box to Benrahma who takes it down, jinks to his right and curls a shot which clips the outside of the post! That was a fine effort.
13' - CLOSE! Yarmolenko, who will be keen to impress tonight, has a pop from 25-yards out on his faovured left foot and his low drive bounces narrowly past Hinchliffe's right post!
17' - FIREWORKS! Referee Mike Dean has stopped play as the fireworks continue to be fired into the night sky. As wonderful as they are to look at, they are truly relentless and it seems the match cannot continue until they stop.
66' - CHANCE! Kitching's ball into the box finds Rooney. He tees up Bennett but his shot is blocked. Stockport are pushing up now and are playing with greater freedom.
82' - GOAL! Finally West Ham score and it is Craig Dawson who gives West Ham a late lead with a textbook header and his first goal for the Hammers. A corner played short to Bowen is curled into the area for Dawson, who rises highest and thumps his header into the bottom corner! Surely that wraps this tie up!