Kidderminster 1-2 West Ham (AET): Jarrod Bowen spares the Premier League side’s blushes
With stoppage-time confirmed, Kidderminster Harriers knew they were just 180 seconds from the greatest upset in FA Cup history.
The National League North team led from Alex Penny’s goal in the 18th minute and were defending it with all their might as David Moyes threw on more of his Premier League stars from the bench in desperation.
Never before had a team from the sixth tier of English football beaten any team from the top-flight and anticipation crackled inside Aggborough Stadium as 90 minutes elapsed and Declan Rice picked up the ball and broke their hearts.
Jarrod Bowen had a tap in in the final few seconds to send West Ham through in the FA Cup
Bowen glances at the linesman to check he was onside before celebrating with the away end
It was a devastating conclusion to the game for sixth tier Kidderminster Harriers, who did well
Rice, the best midfielder in Europe and worth ‘humongous money’ according to Moyes, carved through the red-shirted resistance and crashed a shot into the roof of the net to avert West Ham’s embarrassment.
On at half-time, it seemed as if Rice was the only difference between two sides separated by 113 league places, and here was an intervention to rekindle memories of Steven Gerrard in the 2006 FA Cup final against West Ham.
A brilliant individual goal to the rescue and into extra time and as penalties beckoned Jarrod Bowen grabbed the winner in the 121st minute.
So cruel for the home side but they were determined to celebrate their extraordinary effort and this wonderful occasion. They ought to be proud and they set off on a lap of honour to a standing ovation.
There hasn’t been a lot for them to cheer since the five years in the Football League ended in 2005 and the FA Cup have proved an inspiration, as it did 28 years ago, when they toppled Birmingham and Preston before falling to West Ham, the only goal on that occasion scored by Lee Chapman.
More than two hours before kick-off and queue snaked down the road from Turnstile B. Red-and-white wigs completed with half-and-half scarves, and carefully crafted tinfoil trophies were hoisted aloft.
It had been a dream start for Harriers when Alex Penny (right) fired them into an early 1-0 lead
Penny’s opening strike after 20 minutes blew the roof off a packed-out Aggborough Stadium
Russell Penn’s sixth-tier outfit were the lowest ranked team remaining in the competition
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
Kidderminster (4-2-3-1): Simpson 7.5; Penny 8, Preston 9, Cameron 8.5, Richards 8; Bajrami 8 (Lowe 111, 6), Carrington 7.5 (Montrose 71, 7); Hemmings 8 (White 110, 6), Austin 8 (Redmond 77, 7), Sterling 8; Morgan-Smith 7.5 (Martin 115, 6.5).
Subs not used: Emery, Foulkes, Lissimore, Bastable.
Goals: Penny 18
Manager: Russ Penn 8
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Areola 6; Fredericks 6, Diop 4 (Dawson 46, 6), Zouma 6.5, Johnson 5 (Cresswell 62, 6); Noble 5.5 (Soucek 62, 7), Kral 4 (Rice 46, 8); Yarmolenko 5, Benrahma 6.5, Vlasic 5 (Fornals 76, 6); Bowen 7.
Subs not used: Randolph, Coufal, Oko-Flex, Alese.
Goals: Rice 90+1, Bowen 120+1
Manager: David Moyes 6
Ref: Jon Moss 6
There were cheers for the familiar faces from the world of broadcasting. Micah Richards popped out to conduct an interview, bounced with the home fans and was soaked with lager as plastic cups were hurled high into the sky.
Led Zeppelin front man and Harriers fan Robert Plant and Sir Geoff Hurst, an FA Cup winner with West Ham in 1964, were among the capacity crowd packed inside Aggborough Stadium.
Kidderminster were under no illusions. There were 113 league places separating the teams and Harriers boss Russell Penn joked about the surreal nature of his pre-match analysis session, as he tried to convince his players they might be able play on the weaknesses of Kurt Zouma and Issa Diop.
Even so, this is exactly what happened. Conditions were blustery and the ball bobbled across the surface. Adrenalin fuelled Kidderminster players and their confidence grew as they realised the visitors were only human.
West Ham’s young full back Ben Johnson unleashed the first effort of the game. It sailed over from 25 yards and landed in the standing terrace of the 5 Star Windows North Stand where they bounced deliriously once the momentum swung their way.
Alphonse Areola made strong saves to deny Sam Austin and Ashley Hemmings before the keeper on loan at West Ham from Paris Saint-Germain was fishing the ball out of his net.
It came from a free-kick on the Kidderminster left, awarded for a foul by Issa Diop on Amari Morgan-Smith and swerved into the penalty area by Omari Sterling.
Areola came from his line but did not make it through the crowd of bodies and the ball fell to right-back Penny who produced a wonderful, composed finish, a side-foot volley that would have to miscue in the giddy thrill of the moment but planted firmly past two defenders and into the goal.
Little Aggborough erupted. Red flares smoked and the volume soared. Penn’s players grew in confidence. West Ham resisted another attack and Sterling was close to stretching the lead from a free-kick curled over the wall and narrowly wide.
West Ham boss David Moyes cut an unimpressed figure as his side looked lethargic early on
Penny was the hero early on as Kidderminster looked more up for the fourth round encounter
By half-time, the Hammers had yet to produce an effort on target. Said Benrahma flashed a shot high wide, just before the interval. Moyes turned sharply and disappeared stoney-faced down the tunnel.
On came Rice and Craig Dawson although Kidderminster continued to threaten. Hemmings, cut inside from the right and fired wide from distance and there was a loud appeal for a penalty when a cross by Austin struck Dawson on a hand. Referee Jon Moss played on.
Matt Preston climbed high and headed over from a corner and Sterling drifted in another dangerous cross-shot that flashed past everyone and narrowly wide.
Rice’s introduction made a difference, however, and he opened up Harriers for the first time with a driving run forward. Mark Carrington smothered the danger when he blocked from Benrahma.
The red shirts were pushed further back, and the team from the National League North was forced to dig deep as their fitness was tested. Central defenders Nathan Cameron and Preston headed away one cross after another.
Goalkeeper Luke Simpson was forced into his first save of the game on the hour, low to his left from Jarrod Bowen, and another within seconds from Benrahma. With his team on top, Moyes sent on more first-team power in the shape of Tomas Soucek and Aaron Cresswell.
West Ham’s desperation was best exemplified by Andriy Yarmolenko, a Ukraine international with more than 100 caps, who dived in vain in the hope of winning his team a penalty, against non-league defenders.
Home fans tried to lift their team with a chorus or two and anxious eyes watched the minutes tick down on the clock behind Simpson’s goal.
Rice skied a shot over the clock and the ball vanished out of the ground to an ironic cheer. ‘Who are ya?’ the Harriers fans demanded to know. In the 91st minute, they found out. Rice picked up the ball and powered once again into the penalty box from the left, chopped inside Preston and smashed a shot high into the net from the corner of the six-yard box.
So near yet so far for the exhausted hosts. Another 30 minutes of extra-time stretched before them and the electricity drained out of the atmosphere.
Incredibly, they survived another half an hour without conceding. Bowen had the ball in the net when he turned a low shot from Yarmolenko in at the back post but the flag was up for offside.Then as extra-time trickled into stoppage time, Bowen tapped in another and this time there was no flag. West Ham go through to the fifth round. Kidderminster go to AFC Telford, back to the promotion quest.
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