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Sunday, 6th January 2002

Macclesfield Town 0
West Ham United 3

by Graeme Howlett

Today was one of those days that must be an absolute nightmare for Premiership coaches. Pitched against a team struggling at the foot of the third division, Glenn Roeder was in a no win situation as West Ham were expected to breeze past their opponents.

Well maybe most Premiership clubs would be, but for Hammers supporters there is always that feeling of dread when we come up against the minnows in the Cup. That is echoed by the glee of the TV companies who fought for the rights to screen this one in anticipation of another giant-killing.

Fortunately for West Ham that never came, and in all honesty never looked like happening. The team assembled for 25k (that's roughly seven days 'work' for Paolo Di Canio) failed to attack the Hammers as was expected, and paid for it thanks to some clinical finishing from young guns Jermain Defoe and Joe Cole.

The only shock in the Hammers line-up was the omission of Freddy Kanoute, said to be suffering from flu. Let's hope he didn't catch it from Paolo Di Canio ...

Kanoute was replaced by Paul Kitson, relishing the opportunity to shine again after his brilliant solo show against Charlton at the Valley earlier in the season.

With Michael Carrick absent again, John Moncur was invited to fill the void in the centre of midfield. He performed far better than at Leeds on New Years Day, but the good work was marred by a stupid sending off late on. We'll come back to that later.

The Cheshire based club had never reached the fourth round of the FA Cup, and rarely did they threaten their more prestigious opponents today.

However they were denied an early goal on 4 minutes when a dubious offside decision was awarded in the Hammers favour, despite TV evidence showing that 'goalscorer' Richard Tracey was clearly onside at the time.

Macclesfield went just as close nine minutes before the break, when a free-kick by Rickie Lambert from the edge of the box went through the Hammers wall (not for the first time, it should be noted) taking a deflection on the way from Joe Cole. Cole was relieved more than anyone to see the ball cannon off the wrong side of the crossbar.

Cole himself missed a great chance to put West Ham in front when a typical surging run sent him through on the keeper on 13 minutes, but he shot high and wide from a tight angle instead of squaring it to Jermain Defoe who was far better placed.

Although the Hammers were quiet in front of goal, they were well in control of the game - even before the excellent Jermain Defoe gave the visitors a deserved lead in the final minute of the half.

Seb Schemmel crossed low from the right flank after a good run, and Defoe latched onto it instinctively to put the Hammers ahead with a flick across the keeper.

Coming out for the second half, you would have been forgiven for expecting Kevin Keen's minnows to go hell for leather in an attempt to get back on level terms.

But they were strangely subdued, as the Hammers continued to exert their hold over the game. Testament to Roeder's pre-game pep-talks perhaps, for his side were as enthusiastic and 'up for it' as they would have been against any Premiership opposition.

Jermain Defoe gave the Hammers an unassailable lead 18 minutes from full time, when he first won the ball before dispatching it beautifully beyond the despairing dive of Steve Wilson into the bottom left hand corner.

Joe Cole's solo effort five minutes from time should have been the cherry on the cake for the Hammers, as he took advantage of some sloppy defending to twist past three defenders before burying his shot in the corner.

But instead of a shiny maraschino, it was more like a mouldy grape as the Hammers efforts had been marred minutes earlier by the sudden dismissal of John Moncur.

After a bout of handbags he went in hard on Macclesfield's Chris Byrne, which turned into a free for all as a melee ensued in the centre circle, much to the delight of the supporters.

Referee Jeff Winter booked two players before turning his retribution to Moncs, who first received a yellow card before being shown a red. What exactly happened is unknown, but it looked like Moncs received his marching orders for a petulant shove on Byrne as the Macclesfield player attempted to get up from the initial challenge.

Either that or dissent, anyway; it was unclear. An even bigger surprise is that Byrne stayed on the pitch for attempting to chin Moncur immediately afterwards.

The shine may have been taken off the win thanks to Moncur, but it was without doubt a thoroughly professional performance by Roeder's men, who gave the respect they had promised to their hosts in an accomplished effort.

The reward however was scant; a tough away draw awaits the Hammers in round four as they travel to either Chelsea or Norwich, who meet in a replay next week to decide their third round tie which finished 0-0 at Carrow Road yesterday.

But that tie will inevitably stir memories of last seasons memorable win against Manchester United at Old Trafford, when the Hammers confounded all odds to knock out the Premiership big guns. Assuming it is Chelsea who progress, could lightning strike twice?

Player ratings

David James (7) An unexpectedly quiet afternoon for the big keeper, sporting yet another new hairstyle for the watching public. The Madonna of Green Street rarely came under pressure, but was solid whenever called upon. Only once was he in trouble, but that was due to a deflection which not even an eight-armed hybrid of Lev Yashin, Gordon Banks and Dino Zoff would have got close to.

Seb Schemmel (7) Archie enjoyed a lot of success coming forward today, and even his defensive duties were carried out satisfactorily. One testing first half cross led to the opening goal, and he was a constant thorn in the side of the Macclesfield defence. Booked for kicking the ball away petulantly in the first half.

Nigel Winterburn (7) The few days rest since the traumas of Elland Road have done the self-admittedly knackered Winterburn no harm at all, and he was solid enough against some weak Macclesfield forwards. His forays into opposing territory were few and far between, but his presence was rarely required in those areas today.

Tomas Repka (6) An uncomfortable afternoon for the stocky Czech, Repka looked distinctly uncomfortable at times. Several poor clearances added to Hammers anxiety, and he looked a long way from the player who started his career at Upton Park so brightly. Booked undeservedly late on, his frustration was evident in his response to the caution, where he accused official Winter of booking him just because of his reputation. At least, that's how it looked!

Christian Dailly (7) Solid if unspectacular, Dailly only lost his bearings once throughout the 90 minutes. Not exactly tested as much as he has been in recent weeks, the big Scot performed well enough to show why he is a first team choice these days. Booked for his part in the melee which followed Moncur's crude second half tackle.

Trevor Sinclair (6) Sinclair reiterated his wish to move on to pastures new this weekend; with performances like this not many will be sad to see him go. Despite having the beating of his marker every time he failed to create anything of real value, often preferring to turn back instead of attacking his man on the flank. Probably the least motivated of all the players today.

Don Hutchison (7) Nothing spectacular or particularly noteworthy from Hutch today, but he gave 100% throughout which cannot be faulted. A nasty gash to the shin saw him replaced with a few minutes left on the clock; one hopes that won't prove to be anything substantial.

John Moncur (6) Moncs was having a pretty good game until he receive the red card for a moment of madness. But despite his good natured antics with the crowd on matchday, he is clearly becoming a liability to the team. Sent off for what looked like a petty shove he was only fortunate that the game was already won, and not delicately poised - which could have proved fatal. Silly, silly boy.

Joe Cole (6) Uninspired would probably best sum up Joe today. Apart from one or two glimpses of magic he was fairly anonymous throughout. However the goal was quality - and much needed. Joe knows he has to deliver more goals; hopefully this is the springboard for many more.

Paul Kitson (6) Extremely disappointing. Kitson, chosen ahead of Svetoslav Todorov was well off the boil today, even against such meagre opposition. Not even a shot to his credit, Kitson looked on the whole disinterested. On his way out at the end of the season if he doesn't perform better than this in the coming months.

Jermain Defoe (9) Jermain rose to public attention last year playing for Bournemouth in the second division, so he was well prepared to face the cloggers of the third. Took both his goals beautifully, and can feel rightly aggrieved for not grabbing a hat-trick at the death with a chance easier than the two he buried. A clear Man of the Match.

Hayden Foxe (6) Only on the pitch for six minutes, Foxe's only contribution of any note was to enjoy a bit of banter with the Hammers fans behind the goal in the dying moments.

KUMB Stats

West Ham United: James, Schemmel, Winterburn, Dailly, Repka, Sinclair, Hutchison, Cole, Moncur, Defoe, Kitson

Subs: Foxe (Hutchison 84), Hislop, Minto, Courtois, Todorov

Macclesfield Town: Wilson, Hitchen, Adams, Byrne, Tinson,
MacAuley, Priest, Keen, Tracey, Glover, Lambert

Subs: Ridler, McAvoy, Martin, Munroe, Whittaker

Goals: Defoe (45, 72), Cole (85)

Booked: Schemmel, Dailly, Repka, Moncur, Adams

Sent off: Moncur

Referee: Jeff Winter (6)

Attendance: 5,706

Man of the Match: Jermain Defoe

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