Kidderminster Harriers v West Ham United
Saturday 5th February, KO 12:30
Live on BBC One
Harriers welcome Hammers in classic FA Cup tie
More than 100 league places separate FA Cup minnows Kidderminster Harriers from Premier League side West Ham United as they meet on Saturday – but with the TV cameras in town, the non-league hosts will be looking to cause an historic upset at Aggborough.
National League North side Kiddy have played six games to reach this point in the competition, and knocked out Championship club Reading in the last round in a solid performance on home turf.
Russ Penn’s side has been rewarded for that win with a dream tie at home to the Hammers – but can they go one further, and overcome the visitors to record one of the FA Cup’s all-time shock results?
Moyes boys eyeing Cup glory
David Moyes brings his side to Worcestershire on the back of consecutive defeats, but will be keen for his side to make their mark on a competition that they haven’t won since 1980.
The Hammers don’t have great form at this stage of the competition, having lost three of their last four Fourth Round outings – but, in the midst of a positive campaign, they’ll fancy their chances of going far in this competition.
Moyes is a manager who understands the importance of these ties, and his past results speak for themselves – he’s unbeaten in five FA Cup games against non-league opposition in his career, winning four and drawing one. What’s more, he has seen his side keep a clean sheet in every one of those games.
West Ham to come through this tie unscathed and win to nil is a tasty 1.875/6 and I like the look of that price. The Hammers overcame Leeds in the last round without conceding, and have managed clean sheets against Manchester City, Spurs and Manchester United this season.
Kidderminster eyeing outside chance of glory
Harriers come into this game having won five of their last six FA Cup games on home soil – but boss Russ Penn will know full well the scale of the task ahead of his side this weekend.
One thing that can’t be said is that the hosts have been distracted by the promise of this big tie. Since knocking out Reading in January, Kiddy have won five and drawn one of their last seven outings – extending their unbeaten home run to a whopping 10 games.
Penn insists that his side will go out and play their way – in his pre-match press conference he dismissed suggestions that the hosts will pile 10 behind the ball – and he claims they can win this tie. It’s a bold statement, but the reality is that the home side are likely to spend significant periods out of possession and with backs against the wall against a side of superior quality.
The hosts are 19.5 to grab a shock victory – and if they are to cause an upset, expect Ashley Hemmings to be involved. The forward has scored two and assisted one so far in Kidderminster’s FA Cup proper journey – and he’s 1817/1 to open the scoring here.
Let’s be real though, this West Ham side should have more than enough in the locker to see off Kidderminster, and rightly so given the gap. I think that the best the hosts can hope for is to be stubborn and stay in the game - and they do have the defensive clout to make it difficult for their guests, having chalked up five clean sheets in their last six games.
Hammers show respect to hosts
All eyes will be on Moyes’ team selection for this tie – and with a number of youth players joining training this week, and a packed calendar coming up, the gaffer has teased that we could well see some new faces.
But an experienced manager such as Moyes knows that West Ham can ill-afford a humiliation in this clash – and I expect him to start with a solid spine to try and kill off the game early.
Last time West Ham faced a lower league side in the FA Cup (Doncaster Rovers in January 2021), Moyes put out a strong side to see his team comfortably sail into the next round with a 4-0 win.
For that tie, striker Andriy Yarmolenko started up top, and bagged a goal in the process. With Hammers star Michail Antonio returning from international duty with Jamaica on Friday, I think we may see the Hammers put their faith in the big Ukrainian target man once again.
Yarmolenko is a generous 2.245/4 to score anytime at the Aggborough Stadium, and with a scrappy game in the offing, I think that’s a solid play.
Promise of early goals
West Ham have notched in the first half in six of their last eight outings, and they’ll be keen to ruin the party before Kidderminster get any fancy ideas in this cup tie.
They’re priced at a tasty 1.684/6 to be leading at half-time and full-time, and despite the TV cameras and neutrals hoping to witness a giant killing, I expect the Hammers to weigh in with a thoroughly professional performance and be well on their way to round five by the 45 minute mark.