- Slaven Bilic pleased to be through to EFL Cup fourth round
- Dimitri Payet's last-gasp strike saw off League Two Accrington Stanley
- Manager says West Ham United need wins and clean sheets to boost confidence
Slaven Bilic says West Ham United still need to make improvements after edging out Accrington Stanley in the EFL Cup third round.
It took a 96th-minute trademark free-kick from Dimitri Payet to see off the League Two club at London Stadium – and the Frenchman’s presence on the pitch was an illustration of how badly Bilic wanted his side to end their run of four straight defeats in all competitions.
The manager had named a strong starting XI, including debutants Alvaro Arbeloa and Edmilison Fernandes, before calling Payet, Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio from the bench. His reward was a 1-0 win, a welcome clean sheet and a home tie with Chelsea in the fourth round.
"It wasn't a great performance, but we are through,” he told West Ham. “We wanted to give a chance to the players who had not played much football. In the first half, we controlled the game and had a couple of chances, but wasted a couple of opportunities to go one-against-one with the goalkeeper.
“In the second half, we put three players on because we wanted to win this game and it was a different half as we created far more chances, but when you play better all of a sudden their goalkeeper made three or four world-class saves.
“Then, to make things worse we were reduced to ten men when Arthur Masuaku was injured because we had made three changes. When he went off we were still dominant and continued to create the chances and we got the great free-kick from Dimi.
“The most important thing is that we won the game and only by winning games, especially with clean sheets, will we get the confidence back that is obviously missing at the moment. It is logical after the last couple of weeks and it’s only with wins that we’ll get it back.”
When the Hammer of the Year was brought down by Rommy Boco late on, the No27 stepped up to beat the previously unbeatable Elliot Parish with a superbly-struck effort from 25 yards – to the delight of the majority of the 39,877-strong crowd.
“Dimi has done a few of them for us and for France,” said Bilic. “Everyone knows when we have a free-kick in that position that he can do it. It's a great moment from a great player.”
So, what of the fourth-round draw and a home game with Chelsea?
“Chelsea at home is a great game,” the manager reflected. “Let's say that it's a very good thing for us is that we're playing at home and that it's a one-off tie.
“I’m expecting us to make improvements in the meantime. We have to earn a couple of good results and then the confidence will come back to us.
“We were looking to build our confidence with a better display, but the most important thing is to win, and to do it in the dying seconds does give us a boost.”
Bilic closed by saying that Masuaku’s left leg injury ‘does not look like a worrying one’ and praising debutants Arbeloa and Fernandes.
“Arbeloa didn't play for a long time but he played the full 90 minutes and he is going to bring us experience and quality,” he concluded.
“Of all the players on the pitch, I am most pleased with Fernandes. He is also a good player. He is young but has the quality and confidence to play forward. He came out with a big plus.”