WEST HAM UNITED 2 (Spector 29, Piquionne 90)
FA CUP THIRD ROUND, SPONSORED BY E:ON
Saturday January 8, 2011, KO 3.00pm
LIVE AND EXCLUSIVE ON BARNSLEY PLAYER FROM THE BOLEYN GROUND
A STUNNING individual performance by Luke Steele in the first half and an outstanding team display after the break counted for nothing as the Reds just could not find a goal to earn a thoroughly deserved replay. And then there was the blatant second half penalty that wasn't given.
Boosted by the news that Matt Hill, Kieran Trippier and Diego Arismendi were all free to play against West Ham after being granted permission by their parent clubs, Reds boss Mark Robins was able to name an unchanged side for the trip to the Premier League strugglers. It was a big opportunity for Barnsley - who had picked up four points from their last two Championship matches - to claim another top flight scalp in the FA Cup after despatching of Liverpool and Chelsea in 2008.
After successive exits at the initial hurdle at the hands of Scunthorpe United in 2010 and at today's opponents West Ham in 2009, the Reds were looking be in the hat for the Fourth Round for the first time since that historic Semi Final run three years ago.
West Ham, on the other hand, came into the match on the back of a proper thumping at Newcastle United and under the cloud of speculation regarding the future of manager Avram Grant. In a strange twist of fate, Grant was in charge of Chelsea when Kayode Odejayi's goal dumped the then-FA Cup holders out of the competition on a memorable night at Oakwell three years ago.
Despite the doom and gloom around the Boleyn Ground, Grant made eight changes to his side for the game with only Rob Green, James Tomkins and Mark Noble keeping their place in the starting eleven from the midweek reverse at St James Park.
The Reds started brightly with Goran Lovre picking open the West Ham defence on three minutes to release Adam Hammill but the winger unable to keep his feet as he raced into the area under pressure from Noble.
A quick break by West Ham had the Reds struggling on eight minutes as Frank Nouble pulled the ball back to Zavon Hines but the frontman was denied by Steele's outstanding save.Hines was in again moments later as he barged past Jason Shackell but Steele again was quickly off his line to make another fantastic stop.
Hines slipped away from his marker again on eleven minutes to get onto the end of Noble's pass but his volley fizzed just wide of the far post. It was another great opportunity for the youngster.
It was another turning into another magical FA Cup showing by Steele as Nouble managed to get in behind Barnsley on 18 minutes but the Reds goalkeeper was in inspired form to parry away his goalbound effort.
Barnsley's forays forward were more sporadic although Garry O'Connor was inches away from the opening goal on 20 minutes as he turned onto Nathan Doyle's pass and clipped the ball over a stranded Green but it flew inches above the bar.
Lovre was almost in on goal on 24 minutes as he raced onto Kieran Trippier's pass but the ball just skipped away off the turf and through to Green.
Hines turned provider a minute later with a swinging cross from the left that beat the Reds defence and gave Pablo Barrera what looked to be a simple free header at the back post but the midfielder somehow put the ball wide of the target. The Hammers went even closer on 28 minutes as Nouble's curling shot smacked into Noble and left Steele a little flatfooted but the ball crept wide of the post.
When the goal did come it was through a massive slice of fortune for the home side as Noble's low shot took a massive deflection off Stephen Foster and dropped nicely for Jonathan Spector to roll past Steele.
Hammill again threatened to break through the West ham rearguard on 33 minutes as he raced onto O'Connor's pass but went to ground under Julian Faubert's challenge and the chance was gone.
Barnsley's big chance came on 35 minutes as Lovre barged his way through the West Ham defence onto Trippier's pass but shot straight at Green when clean through. Hammill then raced at the Hammers moments later but dragged his shot well, well wide.
Steele had to be at his very best again on 37 minutes after another lucky deflection put Victor Obinna in the clear but the goalkeeper did very, very well to get to the ball first while the referee waved away the Hammers' claims for a penalty.
Steele then showed just how good a goalkeeper he really is on 40 minutes as Barrera's cross gave Hines an open goal to aim at. The striker did everything right and rolled his shot towards the net but Steele appeared from nowhere to make another absolutely unbelievable save.
Steele again had to make a save on 44 minutes as he got down quickly to smother Obinna's low drive but this time it was a more routine stop for the ex-Manchester United keeper. The Reds number one proved his credentials again moments later as Barrera lashed one in from the edge of the area but once more Steele was more than equal to his effort.
The Reds started the second half with more purpose and Hammill's burst into the area won an early corner. Shackell forced Green into a save with a header from Hammill's centre.
Barnsley were in behind West Ham on 53 minutes as Trippier beat Luis Boa Morte but pulled the ball back into nomansland as a great chance went begging.
Referee Neil Swarbrick got it badly wrong on 56 minutes as substitute Jacob Butterfield skipped past a couple of challenges into the area before being clearly tripped by Winston Reid. It was a blatant penalty but the Lancashire official let the Premier League side off the hook. Swarbrick however was yards behind play and the Reds needed help from assistant Sian Massey. They didn't get it.
Barnsley were well on top at this stage and Doyle volleyed high over the bar on the hour mark with the home side looking edgy.
Hines did get in behind Barnsley on 70 minutes and through on Steele but his shot was woeful and Shackell was able to mop up and clear well before the ball reached the line.
Hammill was inches away from finding Foster on 75 minutes as he clipped the ball goalward from Jim O'Brien's short corner. West Ham were rocking and threw on Scott Parker moments later in a bid to wrestle the initiative.
Steele, who had been a spectator throughout the second half, showed he was still alert in stoppage time with another stunning double save to deny Hines and Barrera.
There was still time for late, late drama as Hammill broke onto a loose ball and smacked a shot against a defender, over Green and onto the bar. It was so, so close for the winger.
West Ham countered brilliantly with sub Frederic Piquionne breaking at Steele. The striker did not need a second invitation to lash the ball into the roof of the net.
WEST HAM UNITED: Green, Reid, Tomkins, Barrera, Boa Morte, Noble, Spector, Faubert, Nouble (Piquionne 84), Hines (Edgar 90), Obinna (Parker 76).
Subs: Boffin, Upson, Sears, Spence.
BARNSLEY: Steele, Hassell, Foster, Shackell, Hill, Trippier (O'Brien 68), Doyle, Arismendi (Colace 76), Hammill, Lovre (Butterfield 55), O'Connor.
Subs: Preece, Neumann, Gray, Bennett.
Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire)
Stuart Burt (Northamptonshire) and Sian Massey (Coventry)
Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire)
Match Report by Rob Knowles.
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