Sam Allardyce up for the Cup after West Ham edge through

Sunday 25 Jan 2015
Diafra Sakho celebrates his winning goal

West Ham will have their eye on a Wembley date after they booked their place in The FA Cup Fifth Round, following a 1-0 win at Bristol City.

Following a day of surprises on Saturday, Sam Allardyce revealed after the narrow win that he had warned his players not to be "another casualty this weekend”.

“Make sure you’re utterly professional in everything you do today and ensure the opposition have to do something very special to beat you,” he warned them ahead of the game that was eventually decided by a late Diafro Sakho header.

Bristol City 0-1 West Ham

FA Cup Fourth Round
Ashton Gate
Sunday 25 January 2015
Winners receive £90,000

And with Wembley now just two wins away, Allardyce added: “Now it depends on the draw We’ve had two very difficult away fixtures.

“I know somewhere along the line you have to take on someone from the Premier League, but I hope it’s not again until the Final.”

He may have referenced the Wembley showpiece with tongue-in-cheek, but as West Ham left Ashton Gate, Allardyce knew his side were the only one in the Premier League’s top 12 to be assured of a Fifth Round berth.

The three-time winners have not lifted the famous trophy since 1980, and in a closely fought contest, Sakho’s goal proved the difference in a tie that could have gone either way.

As the big names fell like dominos during a dramatic Saturday of FA Cup action, Allardyce – who has never reached an FA Cup Final – sent out a team that hinted he felt 2015 could be the year for both droughts to end.

The Hammers boss made just one change to the side that beat Hull City 3-0 in their previous outing.

Winston Reid replaced James Collins, who missed out due to a back injury – while England internationals Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing both retained their starting berths.

With Bristol City flying high in League One, and going into the tie on the back of six successive home wins, there was a sense that the home crowd were equally buoyed by the recent flurry of upsets.

With a Bristol City scarf placed on every home seat, the game began at a frenetic pace in a cauldron of red and white.

The Robins began the game on the front foot, and shaded a first half in which, on another day, their giant striker Matt Smith could have had a first hat-trick.

First he had a goalbound strike blocked, before moments later seeing his looping header cleared off the line by Mark Noble, with many of the home already celebrating.

The home crowd were on their feet again midway through the half as Smith had another effort cleared off the line – this time it was Andy Carroll to spare Hammers’ blushes.

Aside from the trio of chances, the game lacked many other further genuine opportunities. West Ham’s came closest, when Carroll’s mis-hit shot was saved at close range from Frank Fielding.

Allardyce allowed his first-half outfit just 12 minutes into the second period before he decided it was time for a change.

Morgan Amalfitano and Sakho – excused African Cup of Nations duty to recover from injury in London – replaced Enner Valencia and Alex Song.

Watch the highlights from the game at Ashton Gate


The new legs seemed to invigorate the old, as Downing linked with Jenkinson before firing just over – in what was the Hammers’ brightest moment of the game.

A contest that had began gripping threatened to become grueling as chances dried up. It needed a goal. And eventually it got it.

Smith went close again with a header, and should have done better. Luke Ayling also had a chance at the back post, while Joe Bryan also went close.

But in the end it was substitute Sakho who broke Bristol City hearts.

Moments after striking the woodwork with a deft right-footed effort, the powerhouse striker met Carroll’s inch-perfect cross to head the Hammers into the FA Cup Fifth Round.

Bristol City boss Cotterill reflected that the shocks of Saturday made the Robins’ task even trickier.

“The results yesterday probably made it more difficult for us,” he said.

“I’m not saying they wouldn’t have been focused, but if there was any danger of that, yesterday assured it wouldn’t be the case today.

“They’re a good team, with a top manager and I hope they go on to win The FA Cup.”

Bristol City (3-4-1-2): 1 Frank Fielding; 22 Luke Ayling, 4 Aden Flint, 3 Derrick Williams; 2 Mark Little, 7 Corey Smith, 12 George Saville, 23 Joe Bryan; 15 Luke Freeman; 9 Matt Smith, 10 Jay Emmanuel-Thomas.

Substitutes: 7 Scott Wagstaff for Little 75; 15 Kieran Agard for Freeman 82; 19 Marlon Pack for Saville 83.

Subs not used: 13 Dave Richards, 5 Karleigh Osborne, 8 Wade Elliott, 11 Scott Wagstaff, 17 Greg Cunningham, 19 Kieran Agard, 21 Marlon Pack

West Ham United (4-2-3-1): 1 Adrian; 2 Carl Jenkinson, 2 Winston Reid, 5 James Tomkins, 3 Aaron Cresswell; 30 Alex Song, 16 Mark Noble; 31 Enner Valencia, 9 Andy Carroll, 11 Stewart Downing.

Substitutes: 15 Diafra Sakho for Valencia 57; 21 Morgan Amalfitano for Song 57; 20 Guy Demel for Nolan.

Subs not used: 22 Jussi Jaaskelainen, 7 Matt Jarvis, 20 Guy Demel, 23 Diego Poyet, 24 Carlton Cole

Goals: Sakho 81.

Referee: Lee Mason.

By Jamie Reid Senior Writer At Ashton Gate