Hammers Suffer In Shoot-out

HAMMERS have gone out of the FA Cup in the cruellest of circumstances, losing 3-1 on penalties to Sheffield United at Bramall Lane after the teams finished deadlocked at 1-1 after 120 minutes of football.

Mark Noble scored West Ham's third spot-kick, but Teddy Sheringham, Marlon Harewood and Carl Fletcher all missed as Alan Pardew's men crashed out of the Cup at the Fourth Round stage.

Andy Liddell's first-half free-kick gave the Blades the lead, but Hammers fought back to force extra-time, ironically with a Teddy Sheringham penalty on 62 minutes.

Alan Pardew made two changes to the side that beat Cardiff, Tomas Repka returning at full-back in place of Hayden Mullins, who dropped to the bench, and Luke Chadwick coming in for the injured Bobby Zamora.

Neil Warnock made just one change from the Blades side that drew 1-1 at Upton Park two weeks ago, Paul Shaw coming in for Derek Geary in attack.
In front of a lively home crowd the Blades made a bright start and Anton Ferdinand had to be alert to clear under pressure from Andy Gray with barely two minutes gone.

Unfortunately for the Hammers it was a sign of things to come. On eight minutes Carl Fletcher conceded a free-kick 20 yards out. Former Hammer Jon Harley dummied over the set-piece, leaving it for Andy Liddell to a curl a shot into the bottom left corner of the net, leaving Stephen Bywater with no chance.

Alan Pardew's side were struggling to get hold of the ball, and only the slightest of deflections took Phil Jagielka's drive wide.

With just 15 minutes gone Chadwick's recall to the Hammers side ended as he limped out of the action, replaced by Hayden Mullins with Nigel Reo-Coker switching to right midfield.

But still Sheffield United came forward and when Malky Mackay missed his header Bywater had to make a smart reaction stop to avoid being lobbed by Gray.

With half an hour gone Jagielka broke away after the Blades had cleared Teddy Sheringham's free-kick and crossed to where Gray was sliding in. Thankfully for the Hammers so was Reo-Coker who just diverted it away from the path of the Sheffield United striker.

On 32 minutes Alan Pardew's men had their first shot at Paddy Kenny's goal, Marlon Harewood's effort floating well over. It was quickly followed by their second, Mark Noble's drive whistling just over the crossbar.

However, the play soon reverted to type as a posse of Hammers defenders had to be on hand to block Gray's shot on the turn from six yards out.

With five minutes remaining in the half Hammers created their best chance. A raking ball from Anton Ferdinand caught out the Blades defence, but not Teddy Sheringham who latched onto it and twisted free, only to see his shot deflected over the bar by the knee of Chris Morgan.

The half flowed with all the crackle and enthusiasm of a cup-tie, but it ended with West Ham needing to step up a gear to progress to the Fifth Round.

HT: 0-1

Alan Pardew's men came out for the second-half in determined mood and very nearly fashioned a way back into the game on 50 minutes. Harewood muscled his way to the by-line and cut the ball back towards Sheringham, and only Leigh Bromby's intervention prevented the former England striker from reaching the ball.

The home side reminded West Ham of their threat two minutes later, though, when Michael Tonge jinked past Ferdinand and forced Bywater to scramble the ball behind at his near post.

Sheringham's 35 yard free-kick floated just wide with Kenny scrambling across his goal, while in the same minute Gray thumped in a low shot that Bywater did well to block.

The action started to swing from end to end and on the hour mark it finally swung in West Ham's favour. Marlon Harewood chased Sheringham's flick-on and was brought down by a clumsy Chris Morgan challenge.

Referee Mark Clattenburg had no hesitation in awarding the penalty and was just as prompt at producing a straight red card for Morgan.

Teddy Sheringham stepped up to stroke the spot-kick past Kenny, and suddenly the momentum was with the Hammers.

Three minutes later Harewood unleashed a scorching drive from 12 yards out that Kenny beat away at his near post and Mullins couldn't keep his shot down on the half-volley from Mackay's knock-down.

As the half wore on and the tension mounted, the chances began to dry up at a rain-lashed Bramall Lane.

With ten minutes left Chris Powell did well to turn behind Jon Harley's cross with Andy Liddell waiting to pounce, before Sheringham's attempted chip dropped tamely into the arms of Kenny.

Less than five minutes remained when Jagielka's shot was well blocked and the ball just failed to break for Gray. Geary fired a shot well over with barely a minute remaining, while at the other end, Harewood's first time drive from 12 yards out cannoned away off a Blades defender.

Hammers were hanging on at the end, but their backline held firm to force the tie into extra-time.

FT: 1-1

Despite 90 tough minutes, extra-time started at a hectic pace as both teams looked to settle the tie before the dreaded penalty shoot-out.

Sheffield United drew the first scare, Tonge crossing into a crowded six yard box but Carl Fletcher did well to dig the ball away for a corner.

Cross after cross began to rain into the Hammers penalty area, but a defence marshalled by the excellent Anton Ferdinand continually repelled the Blades attack.
Hammers applied some pressure late on, but after the first period of extra time had elapsed we were no closer to finding a winner.

The second period began with the home side again doing the pressing, but a succession of corners failed to yield a clear cut opening.

Hammers forced their way forward as the second period wore on and had their best chance of extra-time when Sheringham's far post cross found Mullins unmarked, but the midfielder headed over from six yards out.

Harwood powered his way into the box soon after, but Bromby did well to slide in and block the striker's shot, while Anton Ferdinand rifled an effort well over the bar in the dying minutes.

Jagielka had the last goal-bound effort of the game a header that bounced straight into the arms of Stephen Bywater.

After 120 minutes of gruelling cup-tie football there was still nothing to separate these two evenly matched sides as the game went to penalties.

AET: 1-1



Andy Gray (Sheffield United) - scores low to Bywater's left.
Teddy Sheringham (Hammers) - Kenny great save diving to his left.
Michael Tonge - Blasted high over the bar.

Marlon Harewood - Kenny makes another great save to his left.
Phil Jagielka - Floated his penalty tamely over the bar.
Mark Noble - scores, the 17-year-old beating Kenny low to his right.
Jon Harley - scores in the bottom right hand corner sending Bywater the wrong way.
Carl Fletcher - hits the ball over the bar.

Andy Liddell - scores, planting the ball to Bywater's left.
West Ham United go out of the FA Cup in the Fourth Round replay to Sheffield United, losing 3-1 in penalties.