West Ham’s Issa Diop was in line to start Monday night’s third-round FA Cup clash with Stockport County only to be pulled from the lineup on the morning of the game.
The Hammers assistant manager Alan Irvine explained:
“He felt a little bit of a problem yesterday but said he was okay, and actually we did the work yesterday with Issa in the team. We came up last night and he was still not 100% sure that he was okay,” said Irvine. “We checked him again this morning and at that point, the decision was made that he wasn’t quite ready to play. So that was disappointing for Issa and disappointing for us because it would have been a good opportunity for him to get a game.”
In Diop’s absence, the first choice central defensive partnership of Angello Ogbonna and Craig Dawson carried on where they left off and recorded their third successive clean sheet. However, the two men were probably a little busier than they would have expected.
The statistics may read that Stockport only forced Randolph into one save but this was in no small part due to a number of excellent blocks and headers won by Dawson and Ogbonna.
When Diop does return to full fitness he will find it hard to break those two up and get into the starting XI.
West Ham will be relieved to have got through the FA Cup tie within the 90 minutes, and it was Dawson who scored the games only goal, nodding home a Jarrod Bowen cross in the 83rd minute.
Before the game Dawson spoke of his desire to win the FA Cup this season and his bad memories of Stockport, so he will no doubt be delighted with his winning goal.
Irvine confirmed that the club are aiming to have a successful cup run this season and said:
“We would like to go as far as we could. You see the team we put out tonight, it’s certainly not one that would suggest that we wouldn’t take the competitions seriously.”
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West Ham face a home tie against Doncaster Rovers in the fourth-round, and in a break with tradition, the Hammers already know which sides they could play if they do defeat the League One outfit. The winners of that tie face a tough match away to either Liverpool or Manchester United in the fifth-round.
Before the third-round match manager David Moyes said “Nothing would give me more pleasure than winning the cup.” A tough fifth-round tie ahead awaits, but as Irvine pointed out “Doncaster will be another tough game, we have no doubt about that,” adding, “we’ll try to deal with that one first of all and then think about whoever we get next.”