Jarrod Bowen saved West Ham from FA Cup humiliation against Kidderminster with manager David Moyes admitting they were “fortunate” to go through at the expense of their non-league opponents.
Bowen struck with virtually the last kick of extra-time as the Hammers, wretched for most of the game, sealed a barely deserved 2-1 win.
They had needed Declan Rice’s injury-time leveller to force the match into extra-time, just as it looked like National League North side Kidderminster would pull off an almighty fourth-round shock.
Alex Penny had given the heroic hosts a first-half lead after terrible Hammers defending. Harriers, 113 places below the Premier League visitors, deserved so much more after nearly writing themselves into FA Cup folklore with one of its biggest upsets.
How West Ham’s injury-time heroics helped avoid upset
West Ham’s Ben Johnson drilled over after six minutes and that was as good as it got before Sam Austin, one of the scorers in Kidderminster’s third-round win over Reading, shot too close to Alphonse Areola from the edge of the box.
It proved the hosts would find openings and Ashley Hemmings was the next to try, although his tame effort was easily gathered by Areola.
The Hammers were unnerved, though, and lost rhythm – meaning it was less of a surprise when Harriers grabbed a 19th-minute lead. It was all down to a catalogue of West Ham mistakes, starting when a dawdling Issa Diop took down Amari Morgan-Smith on the right. Areola and Diop made a mess of dealing with Sterling’s free-kick and the defender’s weak header fell to Penny to fire in from eight yards.
Said Benrahma shot wildly off target just before the break but goalkeeper Luke Simpson had been a bystander in the hosts’ goal and the Hammers needed to change.
Moyes replaced the dreadful Diop and Alex Kral with Craig Dawson and Rice to shore up the rickety visitors and, while they improved, it was barely enough.
Mark Carrington blocked Benrahma’s close-range effort before Bowen’s low shot was well saved by Simpson.
Finally, West Ham began to exert some pressure but the hosts remained firm with Simpson turning Benrahma’s drive wide just after the hour.
Yet there was no expected onslaught and the belief Harriers would hold on grew around Aggborough.
Andriy Yarmolenko’s terrible dive in the area highlighted West Ham’s desperation but they were rescued in the first minute of injury time by Rice.
Pablo Fornals slipped the midfielder through and he cut across Preston before lashing into the roof of the net from six yards.
It sent the tie to extra-time and, with penalties looming, Bowen shattered Kidderminster when he tapped in with seconds to go after Aaron Creswell sent the ball back across goal.