West Ham 4-0 Doncaster: David Moyes’ in-form men ease into the FA Cup fifth round


And then it was five. To think, there was a time not so long ago when those lost souls of West Ham could not be trusted to walk with any great competence, and now they are running at ever increasing speeds.

A fifth straight win, a seventh game unbeaten in all competitions, and a place in the FA Cup round of 16 to go with their current stationing on the seventh rung of the Premier League – if David Moyes isn’t the manager of the season so far, then he should certainly be in the conversation.

Not that wins over Doncaster Rovers are the barometer of these things, and indeed only Everton would constitute a scalp in that winning run, but there is a serious momentum accumulating behind this West Ham side.

West Ham eased into the FA Cup fifth round after beating Doncaster at the London Stadium

West Ham eased into the FA Cup fifth round after beating Doncaster at the London Stadium

It might all be pace on the approach to a brick wall, given they face the winner of Liverpool and Manchester United in the next round, but half a year on from a relegation battle, it is certainly an exciting horizon.

This latest win was easy, and while that can be expected against League One opposition on a flat pitch, it is necessary to appreciate Doncaster arrived in London on a run of seven wins in eight games in all competitions. 

They had good form to shout about, and yet they were losing within two minutes here and were hit for four across the 90, via Pablo Fornals, Andriy Yarmolenko, an Andy Butler own goal and a debut strike from Oladapo Afolayan. 

MATCH FACTS

West Ham (4-2-3-1): Fabianski 6 (Trott 83); Fredericks 7 (Baptiste 83), Balbuena 6, Diop 6, Johnson 6.5; Noble 6.5, Soucek 6.5 (Afolayan 70, 6); Fornals 7, Lanzini 6.5, Benrahma 7.5; Yarmolenko 7

Subs not used: Coufal, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Rice, Antonio

Manager: David Moyes 7

Doncaster (4-2-3-1): Balcombe 7; Wright 6 (Amos 79), Anderson 6, Butler 5, John 6; Halliday 6, Smith 5.5 (Richards 64, 6); Taylor 6 (Williams 70, 6), James 6, Lokilo 6 (Simoes 64, 6); Okenabirhie 5.5

Subs not used: Jones, Williams, Blythe, Ravenhill

Manager: Darren Moore 6

Referee: Robert Jones 7

By the close, West Ham had five academy products on the pitch and had controlled nearly 70 per cent of the possession. 

Not bad for a side that featured seven changes and an entirely new back four.

Within all that, Yarmolenko was repurposed at the tip of the attack in place of Michail Antonio, who was rested in a bench role after scoring the winner in each of West Ham’s past two games.

Pablo Fornals (centre) rifled home after Andriy Yarmolenko and Ryan Fredericks combined

Pablo Fornals (centre) rifled home after Andriy Yarmolenko and Ryan Fredericks combined

Fornals was mobbed by his team-mates with West Ham taking the lead after just two minutes

Fornals was mobbed by his team-mates with West Ham taking the lead after just two minutes

West Ham might be thin in attack, which is a going concern for this promising season, but for perspective on footballing disparities in cup matches, it was notable that Doncaster’s manager Darren Moore was two men short of a full bench. On the pitch the gap was no less conspicuous.

It took a fraction longer than a minute for West Ham to go ahead, with Fornals striding on to a low Ryan Fredericks cross and finishing well from 10 yards, and two more chances quickly followed for Manuel Lanzini and Yarmolenko. 

Both nice moves, both near misses. 

The hosts doubled their lead soon after the half-hour mark through Yarmolenko's cheeky dink

The hosts doubled their lead soon after the half-hour mark through Yarmolenko’s cheeky dink

Yarmolenko thanked Said Benrahma with the forward stealing the ball back and playing him in

Yarmolenko thanked Said Benrahma with the forward stealing the ball back and playing him in

The second goal, on 32 minutes, was equally attractive. 

Said Benrahma, in the midst his best performance since joining West Ham on loan from Brentford, was a key component, given he both won possession with an interception from Andy Butler and then threaded the pass that sent Yarmolenko through. With a chip off his left boot, Yarmolenko beat Ellery Balcombe.

Credit to Yarmolenko – he was having a strong game and if West Ham are to sustain their Premier League pace, his ability to serve as an adequate understudy to Antonio will be key. 

The trouble with all that remains the two and a half years of evidence which suggest the Ukrainian is not nearly potent enough against top-flight defences, either as a winger or a striker. 

Tomas Soucek was in the thick of the action again and challenged Fejiri Okenabirhie in the air

Tomas Soucek was in the thick of the action again and challenged Fejiri Okenabirhie in the air

An own goal from Andy Butler extended West Ham's lead after his shanked goal line clearance

An own goal from Andy Butler extended West Ham’s lead after his shanked goal line clearance

Oladapo Afolayan was introduced late on for his debut and capped off the moment with a goal

Oladapo Afolayan was introduced late on for his debut and capped off the moment with a goal

Benrahma’s push for a first West Ham goal saw him go close with a free-kick early in the second half, and Tomas Soucek also had a pair of shots well saved by Balcombe, before Butler’s own goal for 3-0. 

The origin was a Mark Noble corner that was flicked by Issa Diop to the back post, where the ball deflected in off Butler’s thigh.

After an hour Matt Smith hit the West Ham bar – Doncaster’s only decent chance of the game – but substitute Oladapo Afolayan then tapped in for a fourth on his debut.

David Moyes' team will now take on either Manchester United or Liverpool in the fifth round

David Moyes’ team will now take on either Manchester United or Liverpool in the fifth round



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