Declan Rice was heavily involved as West Ham defeated Kidderminster Harriers 2-1 in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
The Hammers’ fixture against the non-league club showed that the allure of the FA Cup is still alive and well. In one of the biggest games in their history, the National League North side’s legions of fans packed out the majority of their 6,444 capacity stadium. Their passionate display highlighted just how fantastic the competition is at its best.
Their contagious chants bounced around the walkway towards the stadium. And even Micah Richards could not resist indulging in a sing-song with the fans.
The supporters could not have given any more into helping their team pull off the miracle, and it nearly worked. In one of the most unbelievable moments of the year, Alex Penny capitalised on a goalkeeping mistake to give the home side the lead. That was when mission impossible really began.
They showed an incredible amount of heart as they desperately tried to fend off the advances of the Hammers. And they nearly did just that. However, in the dying seconds of the game, Rice, who had come off the bench, produced a moment of magic to send the fixture to extra time.
Despite the crushing nature of the goal, the non-league side showed a remarkable amount of fight. They continued to battle back against the fearsome tide, but Jarrod Bowen found the winning goal right before the dreaded penalty shootout.
However, this didn’t dampen the spirits of the Harriers supporters. They recognised the incredible effort their players had put in and proudly applauded them off the pitch.
Declan Rice captures the magic of the cup
There’s no denying that the manner of the defeat will have disappointed the players, even though they took a Premier League team to their limits. But getting to interact with one of the best midfielders on the planet might have helped heal their scars.
Most Premier League footballers are happy to play the game and go home, but not Rice. The 23-year-old went to the Kidderminster dressing room to congratulate the players, before joining the squad for a post-match shower.
He told The Times: “Declan Rice has showered with the lads. It’s things like this that will live long in their memories. He changed the game for me. His energy, his bounce, his power. They played ten yards higher up the pitch, and it was tough.
“Declan Rice is a great, great pro, and he’s one of the best in the world at the moment, and you could see that. He was excellent.”
Although Kidderminster won’t advance to the next round of the competition. They can always remember the FA Cup effort they produced.
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