West Ham United 2-1 Cheltenham Town
Capital One Cup Second Round
West Ham United booked their place in the Capital One Cup Third Round with a 2-1 victory over League Two side Cheltenham Town on Tuesday evening.
The Hammers were made to work for their win by the Robins, who were looking to progress beyond Round Two for the first time in their history.
Ricardo Vaz Te and Ravel Morrison notched for West Ham either side of the break before Matt Richards halved the deficit from the spot.
It gave Cheltenham a lifeline just as the Hammers looked to be moving away from them, and despite the setback Sam Allardyce's men still had enough to ease through.
Big Sam rang the changes as the likes of James Tomkins, Jack Collison, Adrian, Razvan Rat and Matt Taylor got their first run outs of the season.
The teams exchanged early chances from free-kicks, Taylor firing his through the wall but into goalkeeper Scott Brown's arms for the Hammers, and Cheltenham's Richards curling his left-footed effort over the top.
However, the opening exchanges failed to produce many chances of note as the tempo slowed and Cheltenham did a good job of containing their hosts.
Alou Diarra was stretchered off to curtail his first start in Hammers colours since Janaury, and the mood almost darkened on 39 when a good spell of Cheltenham possession ended with Russell Penn sending a scorching drive inches over the top.
But three minutes later the Hammers broke the Robins' resistance - and in some style too - as Vaz Te arced a perfect free kick into the top left hand corner of the net after a foul on Morrison 25 yards out.
It was just the fillip the hosts wanted, and they began the second period in devastating fashion too, as Morrison found the bottom corner with precision, drilling home right footed from the edge of the box after Stewart Downing slid in to maintain possession and knock to the full debutant.
Downing, a half time sub, had only been on the pitch 37 seconds by the time he set up Morrison's goal, and Cheltenham's heads could easily have dropped as West Ham quickly looked for more.
Mohamed Diame made a strong surge from midfield and shot just over, while Vaz Te and Downing went close with headers in quick succession.
Just just as the Hammers began to think about a simple passage through to the third round, Cheltenham got themselves back into the contest just before the hour when Adrian took out Sam Deering inside the area as the Robins man bore down on goal.
Razvan Rat cleared the loose ball off the line, but referee Graham Scott pointed to the spot on seeing Cheltenham had gained no advantage, and Richards converted from 12 yards.
West Ham looked to make the game safe again and Jack Collison was only denied by a fingertip save when he shot fiercely towards goal from a tight angle with 15 minutes to play.
Then, as the Hammers knocked the resulting corner to the back post, George McCartney headed against the crossbar after latching on to James Tomkins' knockback.
Tomkins flashed one wide from a long way out as time ticked by, and Cheltenham almost punished the hosts at the death when sub Ashley Vincent knocked wide from a long throw/
Taylor had one cleared off the line even later on by Ryan Inniss, but the Hammers had already done enough to secure their place in the next round.
West Ham United: Adrian; Chambers, Tomkins, McCartney, Rat; Morrison, Diarra (Diame 35), Collison; Cole (Downing 46), Vaz Te, Taylor
Subs: Henderson (GK), Nolan, Lee, Ruddock, Lletget
Goals: Vaz Te 42, Morrison 46
Cheltenham Town: S.Brown; Lowe, Inniss, Elliott, Braham-Barrett; Taylor, Richards; McGlashan, Penn (Vincent 83), Deering (Harrison 63); Gornell (Kotwica 77)
Subs: Roberts (GK), Jones, Jombati, Gillespie
Goal: Richards pen 57
Referee: Graham Scott