West Ham United 1-0 Wolves

Emirates FA Cup Third Round 
West Ham United 1-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 

Nikica Jelavic fired West Ham United into the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup with a cracking late strike at the Boleyn Ground, his first for the Hammers.  

In a game of precious few clear-cut chances, the Croat latched onto Andy Carroll’s flick with just six minutes of regulation time left to play and dispatched a clinical first-time finish into the bottom right-hand corner.  

Carl Jenkinson had earlier seen a long-range strike brilliantly saved by Wolves stopper Carl Ikeme, before Dimitri Payet and Andy Carroll were introduced after the break in a bid to spare the Hammers a return trip to Molineux. 

But it was the former Everton and Rangers man who did the damage, ensuring the Hammers’ safe passage into the fourth round, ahead of Monday’s draw.         

As expected, Slaven Bilic shuffled his pack for the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers. Among the seven changes, Winston Reid’s return was the big news, fit to start after a hamstring injury, while there were also recalls for Darren Randolph, Jenkinson, Alex Song, Pedro Obiang, Mauro Zarate and matchwinner Jelavic. 

The Hammers made a sleepy start at the Boleyn Ground and Wolves went alarmingly close within the first 30 seconds. Rajiv Van La Parra’s teasing centre from the right was begging to be tapped home, but instead drifted past an unsure Reid and right across the face. 

It took the hosts the best part of 20 minutes to test Ikeme in the visitors’ goal, who comfortably fielded Zarate’s 20-yard drive, before stooping to his left to palm Obiang’s deflected effort around the post.       
In an uninspiring first half, Jenkinson’s cross from the right almost fell kindly for Michail Antonio, but after his first swipe had been blocked, Wolves hacked it clear. 

But Ikeme was at least called upon rather more seriously before the half was out. Jenkinson let fly from well outside the box and the visiting stopper had to be at his very best to tip the full-back’s stinger over the top.  

The second half was punctuated by a lengthy stoppage following an injury to Bjorn Sigurdarson, who was eventually stretchered from the field. Former Reading man Adam Le Fondre took his place.   

With 25 to play Bilic called on Payet to provide a much-needed spark. Skipper Mark Noble made way. 

But Wolves were having a good go too. Michael Zyro was allowed to carry the ball and fizzed a drive into the palms of Randolph. At the other end, Obiang collected a poor clearance 20 yards from goal but screwed wide of the near post. 

Carroll was next to join the fray, partnering Jelavic in attack. But it was Payet who went closest, as his free-kick drifted narrowly over before cannoning into the stanchion behind the goal.  

Though a replay now looked on the cards, Jelavic popped up with a precious winner six minutes from time. The Croat was onto Carroll’s flick like a flash and his finish into the bottom right-hand corner of Ikeme’s goal was an exquisite one. 

Incidentally, Jelavic’s only other goal this season was also against Wolves, albeit for his former employers Hull City. Pretty it wasn’t, but the Hammers can now look forward to Monday’s fourth round draw.            

West Ham United: Randolph, Jenkinson, Collins, Reid, Cresswell, Obiang, Song, Noble (c) (Payet 66), Zarate (Carroll 71), Antonio, Jelavic (Oxford 87)
Subs: Adrian (GK), Ogbonna, Tomkins, Cullen 

Goal: Jelavic 84 

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Ikeme, Iorfa, Batth (c), Ebanks-Landell, Doherty, McDonald, Edwards, Coady, Van La Parra (Graham 81), Sigurdarson (Le Fondre 56), Zyro (Henry 81)
Subs: Martinez (GK), Golbourne, Byrne, Saville 

Referee: Anthony Taylor