Jarrod Bowen: Stockport tie was what the FA Cup is all about
Jarrod Bowen thoroughly enjoyed the many challenges posed during Monday’s 1-0 Emirates FA Cup third-round win at Stockport County.
West Ham United were pushed all the way by their National League opponents on a night when the wet and windy weather at Edgeley Park made for unique conditions that pushed both sets of players to their limits.
Fittingly, it was two former non-league players who combined to settle the game in West Ham’s favour seven minutes from full-time, as ex-Hereford United forward Bowen crossed for former Radcliffe Borough defender Craig Dawson to head home and finally break Stockport’s stubborn resistance.
Had the Hammers not scored in normal time, the 24-year-old believes the tie could have been in doubt, with puddles forming all over the pitch after non-stop heavy rain throughout the day and evening left it saturated.
It’s all part of the FA Cup, coming to places like this and getting right in amongst it
“I think obviously the pitch didn’t towards near the end, it was hard and to be honest I didn’t really see a goal coming and probably thought it was maybe going to penalties,” he admitted. “But we dug in, the gaffer brought me on and my job as a winger is to create things and score goals and I put the ball in the box and Daws went and attacked in the way that we know he can, so I was delighted to come on and make an impact.
“I was speaking to Vladi [Coufal] at the end and I said ‘If this goes to an extra 30 minutes then I think it might get called off because the ball was slowing up in our [right-back] corner, it was slowing up in the channel and there was no bounce, but that’s what you love, isn’t it!
“It’s all part of the FA Cup, coming to places like this and getting right in amongst it.”
As a former non-league player himself, Bowen had huge admiration for the way Stockport played, not only defensively but also the way they took the game to their Premier League visitors whenever they could.
“One hundred per cent, Stockport rose to the occasion and were a credit to themselves and to the National League,” he observed. “I never played in the FA Cup against a big team, but I know what it’s like to be in the non-league.
“They were very good, were right at it, put us on the back foot and battled hard, which we expected, and although it was only 1-0 it was probably a good game to watch in respect of them coming at us, which I think everyone watching would have wanted to see.
“It was a good game but luckily, in the end, we got the victory and we’re into the next round, which was the main objective before coming.”
West Ham’s win in Greater Manchester set up a fourth-round tie with Doncaster Rovers at London Stadium on the weekend of 23/24 January but, before then, the Irons have two important home Premier League fixtures with Burnley and West Bromwich Albion to contend with.
Having lost just four of their last 19 games in all competitions, Bowen says the Hammers want to keep their momentum going by collecting six points out of six from those matches.
“There are a lot of games now, so they’re coming thick and fast again,” he concluded. “We had a couple of weeks off [from playing matches between 1-11 January], so it was good to get another win and keep that momentum.
“We’ve got Burnley and West Brom now and they’re two games we want to win before we play again in the FA Cup. So, I think the key now is to keep winning, keep that momentum, keep the confidence high and keep going.”