A second half Tomas Soucek effort was enough to send the Hammers through to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup at a wet and windy LNER Stadium.A largely dull and lifeless affair was briefly lit up by the Czech midfielder's winning goal, which came from Said Benrahma’s left-sided corner with just 20 minutes left to play.
The Hammers, wearing their new all-blue third kit for the first time began the game without several key first team players, with the likes of Jarrod Bowen, Lucas Paqueta, Michail Antonio, Emerson Palmieri and goalkeeper Alphonse Areola given the night off.
And it showed as they failed to seriously test Imps 'keeper Lukas Jensen before the half time interval, with Danny Ings blowing West Ham's best chance of opening the scoring when he fired narrowly wide having wriggled his way into the penalty box.
While Said Benrahma and Mo Kudus, West Ham's brightest player on the night also enjoyed efforts at goal that required the Dane's intervention, it was Lukasz Fabianski who made the most telling contribution before the break when he produced a fantastic fingertip save to deny Hakeeb Adelakun and ensure West Ham went into the break still on level terms.
That chance for the hosts followed an effort that did find the back of the net, only for scorer Alex Mitchell - currently on loan at Lincoln from Millwall - to have his brief moment of joy curtailed by referee Josh Smith.
With the increasingly strong winds now behind their backs, Lincoln began the second half positively and gave their fans something to cheer with a couple of early, long-rangee efforts - even though Fabianski, and the scoreline, remained untroubled.
While the Hammers took a while to get going, they wrestled back control of the game and Mo Kudus found his range from a free kick, although 'keeper Jensen dealt with it comfortably. Edson Alvarez, a replacement for the ineffective Pablo Fornals added steel and energy to the centre of midfield - and he was to be involved indirectly in the winning goal.
It was the Mexican's 70th minute, deflected effort that led to the corner from which Benrahma found Soucek at the near post, from where the Czech finally broke the deadlock by bundling the ball over the line - much to the relief of the players and fans, who were beginning to consider the not-particularly-enticing prospect of a(nother) penalty shootout.
Throwing caution to the wind Lincoln pushed on in search of a leveller and Fabianski was forced into action twice in the closing moments, most notably when he did extremely well to divert a goal-bound effort from second half substitute Dylan Duffy.
Yet the Hammers stood strong and were rewarded with passage through to the next round - where they will host London rivals Arsenal, ensuring the possibility of an early return to Stratford for a certain Declan Rice...
West Ham Utd: Fabianski, Kehrer, Mavropanos, Ogbonna, Johnson, Soucek, Fornals (Alvarez 65), Benrahma, Kudus, Cornet (Mubama 65), Ings
Subs not used: Anang, Coufal, Aguerd, Casey, Coventry, Chesters, Marshall
Goals: Soucek (70)
Lincoln City: Jensen, Sorensen, Mitchell, O’Connor, Roughan, Burroughs, Erhahon, Hamilton, Hackett (Duffy 78), Smith (Bishop 78), Adelakun (Makama 78)
Subs not used: Wright, Brown, Jackson, Eyoma, Makama
Referee: Josh Smith
Attendance: 10,168 (1,836 away fans)
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