Randolph is West Ham hero at Anfield
FORMER Birmingham City and Charlton Athletic keeper Darren Randolph produced heroics in the West Ham United goal as they forced Liverpool to a fourth round replay.
In a cagey game the best chances fell to Liverpool striker Christian Benteke, but Hammers keeper Randolph was equal to everything the Belgium striker threw at him.
Randolph said: “It was a cagey start to the game, we just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net. We got the draw through and will take them back to Upton Park.”
The game’s first real chance fell to Cameron Brannagan when a loose ball rolled into his path following Jordon Ibe’s driving run, but the England Under-20s international struck over the crossbar from 25 yards.
The Hammers had a golden opportunity to take the lead when Enner Valencia rose highest in the box to meet Aaron Cresswell’s cross, but succeeded in simply heading wide.
Midway through the first half Benteke looked to latch on to Joao Carlos Teixeira’s through pass, but Randolph was quickly off his line to gather at his feet.
Brannagan was next to be denied by Randolph at full stretch and the, at the other end, Pedro Obiang watched the ball onto his right foot, but his well-struck volley crept wide.
Joe Allen fired over on the hour following Nathaniel Clyne’s centre and Randolph then beat away Teixeira’s effort.
With 15 minutes to go came Randolph’s crowning moment in the game – a magnificent triple save.
First he parried away Benteke’s low first-time drive and then leapt to his feet to block the loose ball as Allen ran in. The Hammers still could not clear the loose ball and it sat up for Benteke to try his luck again, but nemesis Randolph was equal to his strike.
Hammers substitute Michail Antonio almost snatched a winner at the death when he rose above Jose Enrique at the far post, but saw his header across goal come back off the woodwork.
But the teams will meet again at Upton Park.