Reece Burke saved West Ham from the lottery of a penalty shootout as he struck in the second half of extra-time to earn the Hammers a 1-0 win over League One side Shrewsbury Town in their FA Cup third-round replay.
After 200 goalless, largely excruciating minutes across the tie it took a moment of fortune to swing the tie as the 21-year-old Burke swung his boot through a bouncing ball in the area to hammer David Moyes’ side into the fourth round.
The result was harsh on Paul Hurst’s Shrewsbury side, who had more than matched their Premier League foes across the first meeting and this replay without the stroke of luck or incision required to claim the tie.
Moyes had largely supplemented the youth of striker Toni Martinez, Josh Cullen and Reece Oxford, making his first start since the Hammers ended his loan spell at Borussia Monchengladbach, with a cadre of seniors led by captain, and former Shrewsbury goalkeeper, Joe Hart.
But Manuel Lanzini aside they were unable to fashion a way through a defence that has conceded only 18 goals in 26 League One matches this season. The Argentine did his best, drifting to the left before driving infield, but all too often ran into a crowd of bodies that brought him down by fair means or foul.
It was from the latter approach that, after 38 minutes, West Ham finally registered the game’s first shot on target. Lanzini’s free-kick from midway into the Shrewsbury half fizzed and dived but Dean Henderson, clad in leggings to keep the bitter cold of this January evening at bay, just about managed to punch clear.
Meanwhile Oxford, positioned in front of the back four, was offering little evidence as to why he was at the centre of a bidding war between Gladbach and RB Leipzig. Though an ankle injury offers some degree of explanation for why he was outpaced by the 30-year-old Shaun Whalley there was no defence for a clumsy pass midway into his own half that was intercepted by Jon Nolan.
After over an hour of lonely running Payne was finally in behind but Hart was off his line in time to close the angle and parry the shot with his legs. Oxford’s woes were ended by the introduction of Mark Noble but Shrewsbury’s tails were up and Whalley soon burst in behind before slashing wide.
Even Marko Arnautovic’s cameo off the bench could not inspire West Ham, who huffed and puffed towards extra time despite the Austrian’s best efforts. Twice he went close in the final minutes of normal time, lashing a shot against the side-netting and then curling just wide of Henderson’s goal from the edge of the area.
Martinez flicked a header straight at Henderson as the additional half-hour saw West Ham raise the intensity. Lanzini twisted and turned in the area but when the Hammers finally beat Henderson James Bolton was on the line to block.
Just as penalties seemed inevitable Martinez kept the ball alive in the box, forcing it towards the penalty box where Burke was on hand to apply the killer blow.