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Bitter Moyes defeat

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Bitter Moyes defeat

David Moyes‘ return to Ashton Gate ended in bitter disappointment as his West Ham side slumped to a 1-0 FA Cup defeat against Bristol City, marred by an early defensive error and Saïd Benrahma’s disastrous red card writes Michael Talbot.

Barely three minutes into the game, a Konstantinos Mavropanos lapse gifted Tommy Conway the opening goal, sending the Lansdown Stand into raptures. The West Ham defender’s undercooked pass to Lukasz Fabianski was intercepted by the lurking Conway, who calmly slotted into the far corner.

This early blow seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Hammers, and any hope of a Moyes-inspired comeback was dashed just three minutes into the second half. Benrahma, in a moment of petulance, lashed out at Joe Williams after a challenge, his studs connecting with the midfielder’s groin and armpit. Referee Darren England had no choice but to show the red card, leaving West Ham facing a monumental uphill battle.

Despite Moyes’ impassioned team talk at half-time, the Hammers looked disjointed and lacked any real attacking threat. Bristol City, buoyed by the numerical advantage and the home crowd’s roar, comfortably defended their lead.

As the final whistle blew, the disappointment on Moyes’ face mirrored the mood of the traveling West Ham fans who had witnessed a forgettable and tempestuous affair.

For Bristol City, it was a night to remember. They overcame a Premier League side thanks to Conway’s early strike and Benrahma’s self-inflicted dismissal. They now face Nottingham Forest or Blackpool in the fourth round, with dreams of a giant-killing run well and truly alive.

West Ham, however, must lick their wounds and quickly refocus on the Premier League. The FA Cup may be a distant memory, but the fight for a potential European place in the top flight remains their priority. Whether Moyes can rally his troops after this demoralising defeat is a question that will be answered over the weekend

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Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!"

Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon