Alan Irvine: It took a bit of quick thinking and a very good goal to see off Stockport
Alan Irvine hailed the professionalism shown by West Ham United in securing a 1-0 Emirates FA Cup third-round win at Stockport County.
The Hammers overcame a determined, resilient and well-organised National League side, horrendous weather conditions that turned the pitch into a sticky mess and the distraction of a fireworks display to reach the fourth round.
A patient performance was rewarded when substitute Jarrod Bowen’s quick thinking and superb inswinging left-wing cross was headed powerfully home by Craig Dawson, finally ending the Hatters’ resistance seven minutes from full-time.
Assistant manager Irvine admitted his team had been in a battle at a rain-soaked Edgeley Park, but was pleased with the way they won that battle in the end.
It was a big test, but we knew it was going to be a big test.
I had watched a lot of Stockport games in the build-up to this game and I knew how well they were playing, I knew how well organised they would be and I knew this was going to be extremely difficult.
When you add to that how the conditions became, for both teams, then it was obviously going to be a tough night for us.
We had a lot of the ball, we got to the final third regularly but our penetration wasn’t quite good enough at times there.
Having said that, they made it extremely difficult for us to do that and it took a very, very good goal and a bit of quick thinking to finally break them down.
It was a superb goal and a very bright bit of play from Jarrod Bowen to set it up.
We obviously do a lot of work on set plays and we also need the plays to use their own initiative at times and they certainly did that.
They took the corner quickly and delivered a great ball for a fantastic header.
Everybody knows Craig has done that for many years, scoring headers like that, so that was pleasing to see him get his first goal for the Club.
We are moving in the right direction and we’re working extremely hard to keep it moving in that direction and we’re hoping we can keep going in that way.
We’ve got a really, honest, hard-working group of players who have a lot of qualities and we’re trying to improve on the qualities that they already have.
We will deal with Doncaster when that tie comes along and that will, without doubt, be another tough game for us.