West Ham United on Monday staved off potential embarrassment in the FA Cup by scoring an 83rd-minute goal to see off non-league Stockport County FC 1-0 in the third round.
A game that was briefly paused in the 15th minute because of a fireworks display near Edgeley Park failed to light up as West Ham struggled to cope with a cut-up, boggy field and driving rain against an opponent from the fifth tier.
The Hammers created few chances before central defender Craig Dawson met a Jarrod Bowen cross from the right and steered the ball into the bottom right corner past home goalkeeper Ben Hinchliffe.
Dawson was pleased with the outcome and the performance, having said that Stockport, who are fourth in the National League, punched above their weight on a cold and wet night.
“It was a tough match,” Dawson told BT Sport. “Stockport are doing great in their league and it’s not easy coming to these grounds — so a great performance from the lads tonight.”
“It’s been a while since I’ve played in conditions like that, but it’s great to get a goal at the end,” he added.
Said Benrahma and Andriy Yarmolenko fired wide for the visitors in the opening 15 minutes before referee Mike Dean briefly halted play due to the loud fireworks.
Dawson spared West Ham from falling behind when he blocked a Connor Jennings shot in the 64th minute and Tomas Soucek headed inches wide for the visitors before Dawson finally forced a brave Stockport side into submission.
Stockport manager Jim Gannon praised his side’s valiant effort.
“The players are disappointed but I think: Is that not a testimony to how they played?” he said.
“West Ham had lots of possession, but the lads did really well. It was always a stretch for us, but the performance showed we are a cut above this level.”
Additional reporting by AP
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