Sunday 24 Jan
Updated Sunday 24 Jan 16:10
Opinion

Four things we loved about West Ham United's win over Doncaster Rovers

West Ham celebrate

 

Five wins in a row

West Ham United’s 4-0 Emirates FA Cup fourth-round win over Doncaster Rovers made it five victories in a row in all competitions for David Moyes’ squad.

The Hammers followed up Premier League wins over Everton, Burnley and West Bromwich Albion and an FA Cup third-round success at Stockport County with a professional performance against their EFL League One opponents.

The result made if five wins in succession for the first time since 2012, when Sam Allardyce’s side actually won six in a row either side of winning promotion via the Championship Play-Offs.

Moyes’ men will seek to match that run when they go to Selhurst Park to tackle Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Tuesday evening.

 

Dapo’s perfect moment

At 23, Oladapo ‘Dapo’ Afolayan might have wondered if his chance of making his first-team debut for West Ham United had gone.

A series of injuries and competition for places meant Afolayan has had to wait patiently for his chance at senior level.

 

Oladapo Afolayan celebrates

 

But on Saturday, the former Chelsea schoolboy, Toronto FC trainee, Loughborough University student, Solihull Moors striker and Oldham Athletic and Mansfield Town loanee was given his opportunity to impress – and impress he most certainly did.

Five goals in ten Premier League 2 Division 1 appearances gave notice that Afolayan was in good form, and he took eight minutes to open his account, following up like all good strikers should do to finish after Doncaster goalkeeper Ellery Balcombe had parried Ryan Fredericks’ shot into his path.

His jubilant celebration said everything. All those years of hard work had paid off in one moment neither he nor his supportive family, watching from home, will ever forget.

By the final whistle, Afolayan had scored with his only shot, converted all six of his passes and even made a tackle and a clearance to help the Hammers complete a 4-0 victory.

 

Debuts for Academy duo

While Oladapo Afolayan joined the Hammers from Solihull Moors at the age of 20 in February 2018, Nathan Trott and Jamal Baptiste both arrived at the Academy of Football as schoolboys.

Bermuda-born goalkeeper Trott joined at the age of 17 following a recommendation from former West Ham centre-forward Clyde Best, who hails from the Caribbean island.

 

Nathan Trott

 

Now 22, but highly thought of by the Club’s goalkeeping coaches, Trott enjoyed a loan spell at AFC Wimbledon last season and has been capped by England at U20 level.

Centre-back Baptiste is just 17 and West Ham’s youth-team captain. The Club’s second-youngest reserve-team player ever, the England U17 international has featured for the Hammers’ U18s, U21s, U23s and now the first team this season.

Both were handed their debuts with seven minutes remaining at London Stadium, becoming the 965th and 966th players to feature for the Irons since the Club was reformed in 1900.

 

Jamal Baptiste

 

Noble the pass master

West Ham United Club captain Mark Noble knows his time as a regular first-team starter may be behind him at the age of 33, but the skipper is still capable of rolling back the years, as he did on Saturday.

The midfielder touched the ball a team-high 163 times – 64 more than Ben Johnson in second place – and completed a staggering 148 of his 154 pass attempts, good for a 96.1% completion percentage.

 

Mark Noble

 

Noble added two interceptions and a tackle for good measure to lead the Club he loves to the FA Cup fifth round for the first time in six seasons.

Now, he will hope the Irons can go all the way to Wembley, where he could, just could, lift the trophy!

 

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