Craig Dawson spared West Ham United’s Emirates FA Cup blushes as his late header helped the Hammers edge past non-League Stockport County at a mud-splattered Edgeley Park.
In sodden north-west conditions, David Moyes’ visitors encountered a resilient Stockport outfit but Dawson’s 83rd minute intervention hauled them over the line.
86 league places separated West Ham and Jim Gannon’s National League side but there was little between the teams as Stockport delivered an admirable showing on home soil.
- Emirates FA Cup 2020-21
- Third round proper
- 8:00pm, Monday 11 January 2021
- Edgeley Park
Stockport County put up a stern test but Craig Dawson rose highest to head the Hammers into the #EmiratesFACup fourth round.@WestHam's win sets up a tie with Doncaster Rovers. pic.twitter.com/XyUhjNht4z— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) January 11, 2021
The non-League side started brightly but it was the away team who had the first chance when Said Benrahma clipped the post after good work in the box.
Mike Dean was briefly forced to stop play after a firework display erupted – and the Premier League side continued to struggle to find their spark as the first half unfolded.
The rain-soaked conditions made it hard work for Moyes’ visitors as they were unable to exert their on-paper superiority under the Edgeley Park lights.
Michail Antonio was thwarted by a brilliant late tackle by Mark Kitching and the two sides went in level at the break as the rain continued to pour.
The National League side started the second half brightly, forcing a corner in the 51st minute before Declan Rice’s appeal for a penalty fell on deaf ears at the other end.
Conditions continued to deteriorate as fluent passing play became difficult, but Stockport almost broke the deadlock when Connor Jennings’ effort was diverted clear by Dawson.
Moyes introduced Tomas Soucek and Jarrod Bowen in a bid to shake things up but it was the hosts who were starting to look the more threatening as John Rooney, brother of Wayne, grew steadily in influence.
But it was the top-flight Hammers who eventually edged in front when Dawson rose the highest in the Stockport box.
Substitute Bowen made a near-immediate impact and it was his in-swinging cross that was headed expertly home by the centre-back.
County pushed for a late leveller but Moyes’ Hammers held on to book a fourth round clash at home against Darren Moore’s Doncaster Rovers.