Premier League West Ham needed goals in the 91st and 121st minutes to overcome non-league Kidderminster Harriers at Aggborough Stadium in the FA Cup on Saturday
Declan Rice paid tribute to Kidderminster Harriers after West Ham’s dramatic FA Cup victory over the non-league side on Saturday afternoon.
The sixth-tier outfit were on the verge of completing one of the biggest shocks in the competition’s history before Rice scored a 91st-minute equalizer at Aggborough Stadium.
Kidderminster took the lead when Alex Penny opened the scoring in the 19th minute.
After Rice’s strike, West Ham found a winner in the 121st minute, as Jarrod Bowen poked the ball into the back of the net to break Kidderminster hearts.
Despite the defeat, the hosts won the respect of many high-profile figures within the game – including Rice.
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“Massive, massive respect to Kidderminster,” said the England international after the game.
“We watched some videos of them this week and they’ve been flying. You could see it on the bench with their manager.”
On West Ham’s performance, Rice added: “We weren’t at our best today and scraped it with two goals. They probably deserved it if I’m being honest.
“We need to improve if we want to push on but massive congratulations to them because they were excellent.
“The fans are on top of you and they will fight for every ball. It can be a shock to the system. We know what to expect but it’s hard to get to grips with.
“They were in great shape, pressed hard and they made some great substitutions but we’re through to the next round so that’s the most important thing.”
Kidderminster are enjoying an impressive campaign in the National League North, sitting in third – just four behind Gateshead leaders.
Match of the Day host Gary Lineker – who’s currently isolating after contracting Covid – was full of sympathy for Kidderminster during and after the game.
“Utterly heartbreaking for Kidderminster,” wrote Lineker after Rice’s equaliser. “Seconds from causing one of the biggest upsets in the 150-year history of the FA Cup.
“Had to be Declan Rice. Only ever looked like it could be him.”
Lineker later added: “Whatever happens in this game, Kidderminster have more than done themselves proud.
“Thought they might collapse after the heartbreaking equalizer, but they’ve shown great character and fortitude. What an outstanding effort. Well played, win or lose.”
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And, after West Ham’s win, Lineker simply wrote: “That’s just plain cruel.”
Speaking on Match of the Day, Alan Shearer said: “They [West Ham] only got to grips with the game when Rice came on, they have him to thank for getting into the next round.
“Kidderminster were seconds away from getting the biggest shock in FA Cup history. It is heartbreaking and they did not leave anything out there.”
Rice was introduced at the interval, with manager David Moyes making five substitutions before full-time.
Former Manchester City defender Micah Richards added: “Declan Rice came on and changed the game and Jarrod Bowen has been in the form of his life.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.