David Moyes naming a strong West Ham side, there. More about tonight’s tie coming up very soon … but they’ll be pulling the balls out of the hat for the fourth and fifth round draws in a minute, so like some 1970s prog rocker, I’m switching keyboards ahead of a 20-minute-long riff. Back soon!
Stockport County: Hinchliffe, Minihan, Hogan, Maynard, Rooney, Jennings, Williams, Kitching, Keane, Croasdale, Reid.
Subs: Jennings, Palmer, Thomas, Bennett, Stott, Southam-Hales, Barnes, Gilmore, Hinchy.
West Ham United: Randolph, Coufal, Dawson, Ogbonna, Johnson, Noble, Rice, Yarmolenko, Benrahma, Lanzini, Antonio.
Subs: Trott, Baptiste, Alves, Cresswell, Soucek, Fornals, Bowen, Holland, Odubeko
Stockport County and West Ham United. Fourth in the fifth-tier National League, 14 points off the lead, versus a team seven points off the top of the Premier League. A club that has never got past the fifth round of the FA Cup against three-time winners. This should be a shoo-in for the Hammers, right?
Well, it probably should be, yes; if County win tonight, it’ll be one heck of a shock. But the thing is, despite the huge gulf between the two clubs, Stockport have the upper hand historically. The clubs have met on 14 occasions; County have won precisely half of them, with the Hammers only winning four times. The last time they met, in December 1996, third-tier Stockport put West Ham out of the League Cup, a shock principally remembered for Iain Dowie’s spectacular own goal.
Stockport also put West Ham out of the League Cup in 1973, and the FA Cup in 1935. West Ham’s sole victory over County in knockout competition came in the FA Cup in 1958, but even then, if the contemporary report in this paper is anything to go by, County played the more stylish football, beaten by the odd goal in five by a stronger, faster team from a higher division.
Having said all that, West Ham have faced non-league opposition on six previous occasions … and they’ve won them all. Will they add Stockport County to a list that comprises Corinthians (1929 and 1933), Hereford (1972), Farnborough Town (1992), Kidderminster Harriers (1994) and Emley (1998)? Or will County manager Jim Gannon – who was in the side that beat the Hammers back in ‘96 – mastermind one of the biggest shocks in recent FA Cup history? It’ll be fun finding out. It’s on!
Kick off: 8pm GMT.
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