Hello and welcome to Sports Mole
's live text coverage of the FA Cup
third-round tie between Shrewsbury Town
and West Ham United
at New Meadow. The Hammers have climbed away from the relegation zone
in the Premier League and are now focusing on a run in this domestic cup competition, while Shrewsbury find themselves in an automatic promotion spot
in League One despite being tipped for the drop by many.
We witnessed a couple of upsets on Saturday afternoon, namely Coventry City's victory over Stoke City, which cost Potters boss Mark Hughes his job, but this one top the lot if Shrewsbury can overcome the three-time winners. Visiting boss David Moyes
promised mass changes for this afternoon's clash, having seen a number of his players - as many as 10, in fact - ruled out with injury in the last week or so.
WEST HAM UNITED TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Hart; Burke, Rice, Reid, Ogbonna, Masuaku; Kouyate, Obiang, Cullen; Ayew, Hernandez
SUBS: Adrian, Neufville, Makasi, Quina, Haksabanovic, Samuelsen, Martinez
Starting with a look at the away side, as expected Moyes has indeed changes things around a bit, but there are still six full internationals in the starting XI. Among those experienced campaigners is Joe Hart
, who returns in place of Adrian for this cup tie against his former side. The England number one - for now, at least - is handed the captain's armband on his return to New Meadow, 12 years after leaving the club.
Declan Rice, not among those to have been capped at senior international level, is again given a chance to impress in a backline that also includes Winston Reid and Angelo Ogbonna, while Reece Burke - recently on loan with Bolton Wanderers - fills in at right wing-back. Another ex-Trotters loanee in Josh Cullen starts in a strong-looking midfield, which also contains Cheikhou Kouyate and Pedro Obiang, who scored a truly sensational goal against Tottenham Hotspur last time out.
In all in Moyes has made four changes on the back of the draw at Wembley Stadium, which is a tad surprising - many expected more. The Hammers' bench contains a number of academy prospects, who we may well get a close look at over the duration of the afternoon, but certainly from the off this is a talented-looking side. The other slight surprise is that Andy Carroll is not included at all today; Javier Hernandez will instead lead the line.
SHREWSBURY TOWN TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Henderson; Godfrey, Sadler, Beckles, Whalley; Ogogo, Morris, Bolton, Nolan; Nsiala, Rodman
SUBS: MacGillivray, Lowe, Dodds, Gnahoua, John-Lewis, B. Morris, Payne
Switching attention to the home side now, and there is some big news as Dean Henderson has been included in the starting lineup. The Manchester United loanee had been ruled out of today's game due to ineligibility, but there has clearly been some talk behind the scenes and he is in from the off; Craig MacGillivray will provide back-up from the bench. Left-back Max Lowe, on loan from Derby County, is also among the subs.
Shrewsbury have had a little longer to prepare for this game, with their last outing coming on Monday, compared to West Ham's two-day turnaround between matches. No real shock to see Carlton Morris included for the Salop, having done so 23 times in League One this term and scoring four goals in the process. Jon Nolan, with five goals in 25 league games from midfield, is also among the starting XI.
Joe Hart, who departed Shrewsbury Town in 2006, returns to West Ham United's starting lineup this afternoon third-round tie. That is one of three changes made by boss David Moyes following the 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur, as Reece Burke and Josh Cullen also come in. Adrian, Pablo Zabaleta and Mark Noble make way, meaning that Hart will sport the captain's armband.
A big afternoon ahead for Shrewsbury, then, as they look to pull off a major scalp. The Salop narrowly avoided relegation to League Two last season and were among the favourites to go down this term but, 26 games into the 2017-18 campaign, they find themselves behind only Wigan Athletic in the standings. Promotion to the second tier is now theirs to lose, though there is of course still a long, long way to go.
Managed by Paul Hurst
, Town are currently on an eight-game unbeaten run in all competitions and have taken 12 points from the last 18 on offer in League One. That includes four wins from their last five over the festive and New Year period, leaving them well on course for a place in the Championship. Wigan find themselves two points better off but, perhaps more importantly, there is a five-point gap on in-form Blackburn Rovers and Scunthorpe United in third and fourth respectively.
It goes without saying that the league takes priority for Shrewsbury this season, as it does for West Ham, and with a trip to Blackburn to come next weekend Hurst could be forgiven for resting some star names this afternoon. Following that promotion six-pointed, Salop then have three games in the space of a week towards the end of the month, which could well define their campaign.
Unlike West Ham, who of course had a bye through to the third round along with every other Premier League and Championship side, Shrewsbury have already overcome a couple of opponents. Aldershot Town were beaten 5-0 here in November and Morecambe 2-0 last month, putting memories of last term's failed cup campaign - when beaten in a replay by Fleetwood Town in the early stages - to one side.
Shrewsbury have only actually made it further than this third-round stage once in the last 14 years, however, and the 1979 and 1982 quarter-finalists have a real task on their hands progressing today against a strong West Ham side. Town do not come up against Premier League-level competition all that much in this domestic cup competition and, specifically in the third round, this is their first test against top-tier opposition in 14 years.
Coincidentally, that most recent third-round tie against a Premier League side was against a Moyes-managed Everton. You may remember that Shrewsbury famously won that match - Moyes's first taste of the FA Cup with the Toffees - on one of their most famous afternoons. Salop were eliminated from the competition by Manchester United two years ago, meanwhile, having earlier overcome Championship duo Cardiff City and Sheffield Wednesday.
Win, lose or draw this match and, as Hurst said in the build-up to the match, Shrewsbury still have a lot to look forward to. Their league form is extremely encouraging, build on a strong defence that has seen them concede just four goals at New Meadow all term - the joint-best record in all English football's top four leagues. Breaching the backline will not be east for West Ham, but if they achieve that task then Town's forward players must respond.
Moyes will certainly be confident of avoiding an upset of any sort today, particularly having seen his side turn a corner of sorts in recent weeks. The Hammers head into this match sitting 15th in the Premier League, two points above the Premier League relegation zone.
Moyes actually made a pretty slow start to his West Ham tenure, only providing further fuel for those who questioned his appointment. Defeats to Watford, Manchester City and, most difficult of all, Everton, on top of a home draw against Leicester City, left the Hammers in serious trouble. They have since defeated Chelsea to kickstart their campaign, though, and have taken 12 points from the last 21 on offer - a positive enough return.
That said, the Irons are still far from safe as the two-point gap on the bottom three can easily be closed. West Ham have a nice run of fixtures to look forward to over the coming weeks, however, taking on a string of sides around them in the division, beginning with Huddersfield Town next weekend and taking in games against Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Brighton & Hove Albion and Watford. They could realistically be in top-half contention come the end of that run.
United were in action earlier this week, claiming a decent 1-1 draw away at Tottenham Hotspur. The match will best be remembered by the two wonder goals scored; one from Pedro Obiang to open the scoring and a leveller from Son Heung-min late on. West Ham were completely outplayed at times, in terms of attacking chances, but they did what was required to come away from Wembley Stadium with another positive result.
Moyes insisted that he does not envisage West Ham playing in that manner come two years from now, but for the time being he has to do whatever is required to grind out points. On that front the Irons should be safe from danger come the final run-in, and they can certainly be pleased with results over the festive period on the whole. Despite losing to Newcastle and conceding late on in their draw at Bournemouth, United clawed themselves clear of danger.
The Scotsman intends to bring in a new player or two in the remaining weeks of the window, most notably a new midfielder to help balance his squad somewhat. William Carvalho was the name most strongly mentioned in the summer, and the Irons did come close to landing their top target from Sporting Lisbon, but it remains to be seen whether that transfer is still alive. If it is, the Irons' squad will look a lot stronger.
DID YOU KNOW? Three-time winners of the FA Cup, West Ham United have a proud history in this competition down the years. Not so much in recent times, though, as they have been knocked out at this third-round hurdle in five of the last eight seasons, including almost 12 months ago to the day when Manchester City put five past them at the London Stadium.
Two defeats in their last eight matches overall - including an EFL Cup quarter-final exit at Arsenal - is a positive return for Moyes and points towards a brighter future. The Premier League is top of the priorities list for now, but if West Ham can win a couple of games this month they will be closer to the top half than the bottom three, so a cup run will be welcomed by supporters.
Moyes has complained about the vast number of fixtures at this time of the year, which is also the case for Shrewsbury, but he was particularly aggrieved that his side had to play twice in 48 hours earlier this week. Four games in 12 days, concluding with this trip to New Meadow, will have taken it out of his players but they do at least have a week's rest to come. Then it is all systems go once again.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS! West Ham United have never previously met Shrewsbury Town in knockout competition, although they have faced off four times in the old Division Two, winning a couple of games each in back-to-back seasons. The Shrews were victorious at Upton Park in April 1980, a couple of weeks before the Hammers won the last of their three FA Cups.
With kickoff at New Meadow now a little over five minutes away, let us check out some pre-match thoughts from both camps.
Paul Hurst: "We aren't all going to go home and think that's the end of the road and our season's over if we lose against West Ham, so I want us to try and be as positive as possible, but with it in mind that we are playing against higher quality."
David Moyes: "Do I want to win the FA Cup? 100%. But I don't think it can be where we can damage our league season. If I could win the cup I would definitely try to win the cup, but I couldn't do it if I thought it would affect the Premier League."
Hurst rightly pointing out that this in many ways is a bonus fixture for Shrewsbury as, win or lose - or indeed snatch a replay - they have plenty to look forward to in the months to come. West Ham, on the other hand, will not want to see their campaign derailed with defeat in this potential banana skin of a fixture, perhaps explaining why Moyes has named a strong-looking side - just three changes for them, remember.
Both sets of players have now entered the field of play at New Meadow, with kickoff just a couple of minutes away. Shrewsbury head into this match without defeat in their last eight in all competitions; West Ham have lost two of their last eight. Great atmosphere building inside this packed ground, with the sun beating down. Fingers crossed for an entertaining game!
KICKOFF! We are up and running at New Meadow in this FA Cup third-round tie. Shrewsbury boast a formidable defensive home record - the joint-best in the English Football League - and have kept nine clean sheets from 12 games here.
There has already been one game in the FA Cup this afternoon, and it has provided us with another upset - Newport County have come from behind to beat Leeds United 2-1. Will we see a similar result in this one? Tentative start so far.
West Ham unable to really bring the ball under control in the early stages of the contest. A similar story as far as Shrewsbury are concerned, though they will be happier with the way things appear to be panning out so far.
Joe Hart, a former Shrewsbury player, has been given a hat because he was struggling with the sun. Proper third-round conditions, these - a nice, sunny day but freezing cold. Still yet to see any sort of shooting chance at New Meadow.
First half-chance of the contest, as Kouyate appeared to get his head to Rice's left-sided cross. Barely any contact made, though, if any, and the ball ended wide of the far post. A sign that West Ham are ready to move through the gears.
The hosts win a free kick in a decent position, which is blasted straight into the opposition wall. An update on the Joe Hart cap situation - he was given it by one of the travelling West Ham fans, who could clearly see he was struggling with the sunny conditions.
Andre Ayew is struggling with a knock at the moment and may well be replaced. United manager Moyes has been hit by a number of injury problems over the festive period and will certainly not want to lose the Ghanian attacker.
A dangerous delivery into the West Ham box is helped behind by Reid. The New Zealand international did not appear to know too much about it, though, rather seeing it deflect off his head and out for a Shrewsbury corner.
Seventeen minutes gone at New Meadow and neither side yet to create any sort of shooting chance. Kouyate with just about the best opportunity, which he failed to make the most of when Rice's cross came into the box.
Hernandez has been down for a couple of minutes now receiving some treatment. The Mexican striker does look as though he will be able to shake it off, but this is not one West Ham want to rush as they cannot afford to lose him.
Nearly a quarter of the match now played and there is very little between the two sides. West Ham have not really got going so far and, while Town have also struggled to create anything, they will be happy with the way things have panned out.
Just not quite happening for the Irons so far, as they struggle to get out of first gear. Shrewsbury's impressive defence barely had anything to do thus far, which they will hope remains the case for the remaining 67 minutes or so.
Referee Paul Tierney has a brief word with Obiang following a late challenge. Home supporters wanted a yellow card dished out by the man in the middle made the right call there - not really enough contact to warrant a booking.
A little bit of panic at the back for United, as Shrews wideman Whalley sends in a deep cross that Hart pounces on. All it needed was a touch from a home player and we may well have had our first serious attempt of this quiet cup tie.
Burke is the latest player to go down following a clash of heads. The referee had no choice but to blow his whistle, but the wing-back is back on his feet and play resumes. It has become very stop-start over the last 10 or 15 minutes.
Carlton Morris with a smart backheel to keep Shrewsbury's attack alive, but Reid was well positioned to clear it away. Home fans have had little to feed off so far, though that move has helped get them out of their seats all of a sudden.
SHOT! A first real shot of the match, via the boot of Omar Beckles. The ball fell nicely to him to hit, but the ball was always rising over the bar from 20 yards out. The League One side have just about had the better of things.
Omar is down receiving some treatment, still struggling with a fresh injury problem. Moyes does look likely to turn to his bench at this rate, though there is very little experience to choose from - just six senior appearances between the outfielders.
Shrewsbury have had the better of this first half, with their best opening arguably that cross towards the back post that Hart got to. A big save from the Englishman moments ago, too, keeping out Matt Sadler
's low drive from close range.
Real pressure from Shrewsbury, as Alex Rodman
cuts in from the left and sends a shot on goal for Hart to parry away. Two chances in two minutes for the hosts, then, as Sadler also came close to opening the scoring.
Moyes might be tempted to tweak things at the interval, with Ayew's injury possibly a blessing in disguise. The winger did little to prevent Rodman from getting a shot away a few moments ago, and he is almost certain to make way at the interval.
Half time is now just a couple of minutes away and it is still the Shrews who are looking the livelier. West Ham have been poor, failing to create any real opportunities in the opening 43 minutes of a tie they were strong favourites to win.
Dodgy moment for the Shrews, as a cross in from the right is just about captured by loan keeper Henderson. Looks as though we will head into the interval all square at New Meadow, keeping us on course for a potential third-round upset.
A scrappy period in the match, as Shrewsbury win four or five 50-50 challenges in the space of a minute. No doubt that the home side have been the more impressive on the whole and, to use a cliche, they definitely seem to want this more.
HALF TIME: SHREWSBURY TOWN 0-0 WEST HAM UNITED
A good defensive header from Cullen, but only as far as Nolan who drills the ball wide, before Reece Burke put the ball behind for a corner from a nothing ball into the box. Paul Tierney brings the first half to a close, more to the relief of West Ham as they look very tired.
The opening quarter of the match passed by with little incident, with both sides managing to cancel each other out in what was proving to be a tight cup tie from the off. Shrewsbury grew more and more into the contest, however, and had a couple of big chances to open the scoring.
Matt Sadler found himself in an advanced position and had only Joe Hart to beat from the angle, but the former Shrewsbury stopper was equal to it down low. A couple of minutes later Hart, who appeared 58 times for Salop as a teenager, was equal to an Alex Rodman effort after cutting in from the left-hand side.
Town created the first half's better chances, seeing Omar Beckles blast over the bar from the edge of the box and a dangerous back-post cross pounced on by Hart. A tired West Ham side, showing just three changes from last time out, struggled with the pace of the game, meanwhile, with their only attempt of any note a Declan Rice cross that Cheikhou Kouyate could not divert on target.
SHREWSBURY TOWN SUBS: MacGillivray, Lowe, Dodds, Gnahoua, John-Lewis, B.Morris, Payne
WEST HAM UNITED SUBS: Adrian, Neufville, Makasi, Quina, Haksabanovic, Samuelsen, Martinez
RESTART! We are back under way in Shropshire, where neither manager has made any changes at the break. Promising former England U16 left-back Vashon Neufville among West Ham's inexperienced back-up options this afternoon.
Rodman with a good chance to cut inside and get a shot away, but he wanted one touch too many and in the end the ball ran to Whalley, who also failed to test Hart. Bright start to the second half by the League One promotion chasers.
Cullen keeps the pressure alive by getting the ball into the box, but Henderson - with so very little to do far today - gets two hands to it. Much like in the early stages of the first half, it is pretty balanced at New Meadow.
SAVE! This well technically go down as a save for Henderson, who did not have to move to collected Ayew's glanced header. Bad news for Shrewsbury now, as Sadler - badly bloodied in the first half - has seen his stitches open up. Surely won't be able to continue.
Shrewsbury, still down to 10 men following Sadler's departure, starting to knock on the door against a West Ham side seemingly tiring by the minute. Moyes must surely be tempted to make a change, even if he will be bringing on an inexperienced player.
Masuaku with a brilliant cross from the left, which none of his teammates gambled on - Henderson with a simple catch. Up the other end, another tasty cross evaded Whalley thanks to a small touch from the head of Declan Rice.
The hour mark now approaching in Shropshire and we remain all square. This will be a great result for the hosts, of course, but they may be left wondering what might have been as they have been the better team on the whole so far.
Morris looks set to lead a counter after the ball was cleared away, but he does not get the bounce and West Ham are able to get men back. The game has gone a bit flat again over the last few minutes; no chances of any note in this second half.
A reminder that Newport County of League Two have already earned a comeback win over Championship playoff chasers Leeds United today. A second upset is on the cards if Shrewsbury, with Sadler back in their ranks, can step things up again.
Burke picks the ball up on the right and swings it into the middle, where Godfrey was waiting to nod it clear. Both managers contemplating changes down on the sidelines, but neither yet to make any changes with 64 minutes played.
Shrewsbury have enjoyed 67% of possession so far, performing more like the Premier League team. Hard to be too critical on West Ham as they are clearly fatigued and have few back-up options, but their fans would have expected more.
A slight tactical tweak from Moyes has made a difference, seeing his side get on the ball in more advanced positions. West Ham still a long way off their usual self, though, and it is hard to see exactly where a goal is going to come from.
WEST HAM SUB! Here comes that first chance of the afternoon, as Toni Martinez comes on in place of Javier Hernandez. The Mexican has seen very little of the ball in advanced positions today, with Shrewsbury managing to keep him quiet.
A quarter of the match to play and this one is still very much in the balance. So very little between the sides in this second half; a second half that has lacked any real quality, in truth, with neither team mustering a serious effort.
Hart has been the busier of the two keepers on his return to Shropshire, having pulled off two big saves in quick succession during the first half. Home boss Hurst appears to be readying a player or two to come on for the final 15 minutes.
SHREWSBURY TOWN SUB! Cullen takes a boot clean to the face, with a tooth or two flying out in the process. A little shaken up, the youngster looks as though his afternoon is over. Loanee Max Lowe replaces Rodman for the hosts.
Cullen is determined to play on, despite his mouth being badly bloodied, but first he has to change his shorts - presumably they have some blood on. A couple of nasty injuries this afternoon, but credit to Cullen and Sadler for playing on.
Not been a thrilling cup tie, by any means, but it has at least kept us gripped until the end due to the delicate nature of the match. Obiang, a few days on from his Wembley beauty, drags his first effort of this match well wide of the far post.
SHREWSBURY TOWN SUB! One comes Stefan Payne for Morris to help see through these final eight minutes. Shrewsbury would likely take the money-spinning replay at this point, but they could well have snatched a win.
The contest just starting to peter out now. It has been far from a classic and the teams have managed five shots on target between them - just two of those forcing a serious save, both of which West Ham keeper Hart was responsible for.
WEST HAM UNITED SUB! Winston Reid has just picked up a knock following an awkward fall, so his afternoon is over. On comes attacking midfielder Domingos Quina, meaning a slight reshuffle for Moyes's battered and bruised side.
CHANCE! The best chance of the second half by a mile, as the ball is cut back for Jon Nolan to hit 10 yards out. The midfielder got the contact wrong, though, and his shot flew well over Joe Hart's crossbar. What a let-off for the Hammers!
SHREWSBURY TOWN SUB! Arthur Gnahoua is on for Whalley as we enter added time. Four minutes have been added on so this one is not over just yet; plenty of time for a late twist in a so-far goalless third-round tie.
The ball breaks kindly for Shrewsbury but Payne cannot quite bring it under control when rushing to the edge of the opposition box. With two of the four added-on minutes played that will likely be the last opening of the contest.
FULL TIME: SHREWSBURY TOWN 0-0 WEST HAM UNITED
The full-time whistle sounds at New Meadow, where Shrewsbury Town have held Premier League side West Ham United to a goalless draw. The lower-league outfit had the better of the chances, particularly in the first half as Alex Rodman and Matt Sadler both forced returning stopper Joe Hart into making a save.
That concludes Sports Mole
's live text coverage of events from Shropshire. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here
, while updates from another of the third-round ties between Nottingham Forest and Arsenal can be followed here
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