Manchester United 1 West Ham United 0
And so our dreams of an appearance in a domestic cup final crash and burn, again, we`re left to ponder over what might have been.
But for a late equalizer from Robin van Persie, in the original tie, it`d be us contemplating a 4th round fixture against London, instead of watching on from afar as other pursue cup glory.
For the fixture, Big Sam, following a poor display at Sunderland on Sunday, rung the changes with some key names, like Kevin Nolan, Jack Collison and Matt Jarvis all conspicuous by their absence.
On paper, it looked as if Sam had opted to pack the midfield and utilize a back three with two youngsters patrolling the flanks. If the plan was to frustrate United and keep it tight, it failed dramatically after just nine minutes when a move involving Anderson and Hernandez presented Wayne Rooney with the chance to put United ahead, a chance he was not to waste.
Fearful that the goal could open the floodgates, West Ham rode their luck for large spells of the game. Often cutting through our back-line at will; United were guilty of poor finishing and also were frustrated by the brilliance of Jaaskelainen in the Hammers goal.
As time began to become of the essence, West Ham chanced their luck more and more, pushing deeper into enemy territory and should have had a penalty when Rafael handled the ball, for some strange reason Phil Dowd chose to ignore some vociferous claims and played on.
Our hosts had a golden chance to put the game beyond us late on when Phil Dowd did respond to protestations that a cross from Ryan Giggs had been handled and a spot kick was awarded. Rooney stepped up but, to our relief, cleared the cross-bar with his effort.
The final minutes saw West Ham desperately search for an equalizer but to no avail, those cup dreams are put on hold for another year.
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