Walsall V West Ham

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Match Report
Saturday 6th January 2001
Upton Park

Freddie Kanoute scored twice to steer the Hammers through to a fourth round tie against Manchester United on a "beach" of a pitch.

Frank Lampard had earlier given the side an early lead - but an avalanche of goals never came.

Darren Wrack and Brett Angell were on target for the battling Second Division side.

Harry Redknapp said after the game:

"It was always going to be a tough game because we were a bit makeshift with a few key players missing such as Ian Pearce, Igor Stimac, and Paolo di Canio as well as my captain Steve Lomas who is a very important player for us.

"But we had Freddie Kanoute who is a really special talent and the ability to be one of the outstanding players in the premier league which he is at the moment.

"He is a lovely boy, a terrific professional, and he gets on with the job. He was a real bargain buy at £3.5M.

"I am looking to find a partner for him, I have one or two in mind, and it could be interesting if I can dig another one out to play with him and make them a force.

"I've only spent £3M so I have still got £16M to spend.

"As for Steve Lomas, I really don't want to lose him but we were offered £3.7M by Everton and Manchester City which is decent money.

"It is like everything; everyone has got their price.

"You know what goes on, Managers talk to players and players often know before you do that the deal is going on.

"I thought he might have been approached before I'd even heard of it so I left it with him. But I need him - he's a good player."

Harry was just pleased to ease through to the fourth round, adding:

"Something happens in the Cup and lower teams find another yard or two. I had the worst team ever in my life at Bournemouth but we beat Manchester United 2-0 when they were Cup holders. Don't ask me how we did it.

"Dagenham and Redbridge were leading Charlton with four minutes to go - how can that happen? And look at Leyton Orient against Spurs.

"But most of our players don't even know about West Ham's recent record in the FA Cup - for Joe Cole and Michael Carrick it was their first taste of the FA Cup, and players like Stuart Pearced, Nigel Winterburn and Freddie Kanoute have not been on the end of a Cup upset.

"We just had to match them for hard work and everything that goes with it.

"Frank Lampard said to me that we are on our way to Wembley but I had to say: 'No, we are on our way to Cardiff!"

West Ham set about avoiding a potential giant-killing act at the Bescot Stadium in purposeful fashion and took an early lead.

After five minutes, Kanoute laid off a long ball to Lampard as the Premiership side immediately made their superiority tell.

The Hammers midfielder burst through the Walsall defence and slotted the ball into the back of the net to settle the visitors' nerves.

Walsall rallied impressively after the shock of falling behind at such an early stage.

Left-back Zigor Aranalde came close to firing them back on level terms after 12 minutes when he saw his angled 20-yard drive fly just wide off Shaka Hislop's goal.

It was the Spanish defender who was causing the West Ham defence most problems and his 25th-minute cross created chaos in the Hammers' area.

The ball flew straight to Walsall's experienced striker, Brett Angell, who collected the ball on the edge of the six-yard box.

But the former Everton striker ballooned his first-time shot over the bar from close range.

West Ham, having weathered that storm, almost improved their advantage in the 27th minute when a right-wing cross by Lampard just failed to be converted by their recent signing, Titi Camara.

Walsall were not to be denied and they gained a deserved equaliser in the 32nd minute following a right-wing cross from full-back Ian Brightwell.

His cross was flicked on by Jorge Leitao into the path of Wrack, who made no mistake with a low drive from 10 yards.

The shock of being dragged back on to level terms sparked West Ham into a spell of intense attacking pressure.

But they were denied by the heroics of Walsall goalkeeper James Walker.

Three times in the space of 60 seconds he produced acrobatic saves to deny Kanoute, Cole and Camara.

After failing to take advantage of the chances they created, West Ham could easily have found themselves trailing at half-time.

Another left-wing cross from Aranalde flew straight to Angell but once again the veteran striker squandered the opening, seeing his close-range header tipped away by West Ham keeper Shaka Hislop.

HT Walsall 1 West Ham 1

The Hammers regained the lead in the 58th minute after a flowing move when Camara released Cole on the right. He sent in a deep cross and Kanoute powered a header beyond Walker.

The Premiership side almost added a third a minute later when Kanoute and Cole linked up but Walker got down quickly to avert the danger.

The Second Division side continued to play some neat football but with 15 minutes remaining, West Ham looked in control.

Trevor Sinclair saw a shot come back off the bar for the Hammers in the 74th minute and they extended their lead eight minutes later.

Kanoute scored his second goal with a blistering shot but Brett Angell pulled a goal back for the Second Division side with two minutes to go.