Nikica Jelavic's last-gasp winner helps West Ham progress in the FA Cup
It was music to the ears of West Ham fans when Slaven Bilic announced in mid-week that he would rather lift the FA Cup than concentrate on trying to get into the Champions League. The Hammers faithful still dream of seeing their heroes lift the famous trophy at Wembley again, with most believing it is a more realistic expectation than breaking into the top four.
Bilic made seven changes to the side that triumphed over Liverpool last week however; something of a surprise even though the starting line-up was still relatively strong. Nevertheless, although Wolves created little having left out their striker Benik Afboe who looks to be on his way to Bournemouth, the game looked to be drifting toward a dull stalemate before Nikica Jelavic struck late on.
The Croatian's 84th minute winner came out thanks to another sterling performance from off the bench by Andy Carroll. It was the big striker's introduction that gave the home side a cutting edge against a dogged Championship team that lacked the bit of quality needed to really worry West Ham.
Bilic will be happy with the result although the performances of some players was a little under par. This was the type of game that the FA cup often throws up though and nobody will mind if provides a few more games at the Boleyn before season's end.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Darren Randolph, 6 -- In for Adrian, the former Birmingham keeper had little to do and looked comfortable throughout.
DF Carl Jenkinson, 7 -- Did well marking the difficult Michael Zyro and got forward well on occasion too, probably having the best chance in the first half.
DF James Collins, 7 -- Another good game for Collins with some good tackles as Wolves pressed later on.
DF Winston Reid, 6 -- Back after injury and was solid throughout.
DF Aaron Cresswell, 7 -- A constant threat going forwards.
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MF Michail Antonio, 6 -- Continued his recent good form but never looked really dangerous.
MF Alex Song, 3 -- Another poor game from the player on-loan from Barcelona. Created nothing and looked short on ideas; Song's form is a constant puzzle.
MF Mark Noble, 5 -- Substituted after an hour, Noble had a quiet afternoon.
MF Pedro Obiang, 5 -- Never entirely convinced and passed poorly at times.
FW Mauro Zarate, 4 -- Replaced by Andy Carroll after 80 minutes, Zarate created little.
FW Nikica Jelavic, 7 -- Jelavic hasn't really shown much since he joined the club from Hull, but his well-taken winner was a reminder of what he is capable of.
MF Dimitri Payet, 7 -- As in his last game against Liverpool, the Frenchman showed in a cameo performance why he is so highly-thought of by fans and team-mates. Looks dangerous every time he is on the ball.
FW Andy Carroll, 6 -- Another good performance from the bench, Carroll gained an assist for Jelavic's goal.
MF Reece Oxford, N/R -- Replaced Jelavic as the Hammers saw out the game.
Peter Thorne, aka Billy Blagg (@BillyBlaggEsq), is the author of a regular column at WestHamOnline.net and the East London Guardian.