ALBION turned in a sensational performance to sweep West Ham and their 5,000-strong backing aside with their best victory and most complete display of the season so far.
Yet again, the re-born Brown Ideye was an inspirational figure with two goals but will be challenged for Man of the Match by the excellent James Morrison who scored a terrific second for Tony Pulis’s in-form outfit.
A fourth from Saido Berahino capped the Hammers misery following the 69th minute red card for ex-Baggie Morgan Amalfitano.
It was a Baggies line-up showing two changes to the team which beat Swansea in midweek League action. Craig Gardner taking over from a Cup-tied Darren Fletcher and Stephane Sessegnon taking over from Callum McManaman who was nursing a slight knock from the 2-0 Wednesday victory.
Albion began attacking a Smethwick End given over to West Ham fans for the tie most of whom had fought their way through traffic chaos on the motorways to make kick-off.
And the Hammers were the first to enjoy a threatening position when Chris Brunt clipped Mark Noble on the edge of the area – but Aaron Cresswell’s free-kick was too high.
Albion’s response was led by some foraging work by Brown Ideye which gave James Morrison the chance to run at the Hammers defence. His shot was charged down but the rebound led to Albion players screaming for a penalty as Kevin Nolan’s arm appeared to make contact.
There was no time for argument. Albion were back with a terrific move which saw Brunt overlapping onto Sessegnon’s pass for a cross which Gardner volleyed a fraction wide with his left foot.
With the noisy Hammers fans then joining the 9th minute ovation for Jeff Astle, the Hawthorns was beginning to crackle to a typical Cup tie atmosphere despite vacancies around the home seats.
On 17 minutes came more problems for Albion as Morrison’s challenge on Enner Valencia gave the visitors another menacingly-positioned free-kick. Centrally placed and just outside the area, the ‘wall’ stood its ground as the same Hammers player once again fired over the top.
But then the Baggies struck with a terrific 20th minute opener – and once again it was the rejuvenated Brown Ideye on target.
However, two magnificent ‘assists’ were required. A superb cross-field pass by Gardner found Dawson charging forward and breaking past Cresswell. The defender steadied himself and then squared a pass for Ideye to convert from point-blank range.
Albion were now in full cry. Gardner – having swapped flanks with Sessegnon – cut in from the left to tee-up Morrison for a piledriver Adrian did well to tip over. From the corner, Dawson missed his connection on a volley before Ideye tumbled under a Nolan challenge that again had Albion screaming ‘penalty’ – again to no avail.
The half hour mark passed with Albion full value for their lead and another opportunity beckoning when, from a Brunt free-kick, the ball broke for Sessegnon to have a run-and-pop at the target but his left foot effort flew wide.
But what an effort from Gardner which followed. Picking up Saido Berahino’s pass back from nearly 30yds, the midfielder let fly with an absolute howitzer which flew past a startled Adrian but thundered off the bar. Dawson, following up, couldn’t control his attempt to score on the rebound.
In the 42nd minute, however, West Ham were not so lucky with another long range effort as Albion doubled their lead.
Some short passing took Albion through the visitors midfield after Brunt had reclaimed possession and suddenly Morrison was breaking into space 25yds out. He advanced a step further and then rifled a sweet right-footer into the Adrian’s left-hand corner.
The Baggies comfortably protected their advantage through two minutes of added time and went to the interval with a standing ovation for company.
It was all about a reaction from the Hammers now and how the Baggies coped but as both teams emerged unchanged for the second half.
A corner in the 50th minute was the first test but Brunt rose above all to head clear but a first missed tackle by the Albion defence gave Song a more promising chance in the 55th minute. His finish from the left was weak, however, an attempted chip over Foster gently arriving at waist height.
And instead it was Albion who fashioned a wonderful break-out to snatch a third goal in the 57th minute – and another for the now electric Ideye.
Credit first went to Foster for a terrific throw which had Brunt charging down the left to exchange passes with Morrison for a cross which might have brought a finish from the Nigerian. He missed his connection – but Sessegnon collected the re-bound and his deflected cross bounced up for Ideye to score with an athletic header.
West Ham responded by bringing ex-Albion man Morgan Amalfitano on for Nolan as the hour mark approached.
He was given a warm reception by the Hawthorns fans but Albion’s domination was threatened in the 66th minute when they conceded their first chance from open play as Cresswell’s cross from the left got beyond Lescott for Diafra Sakho to meet with a closer-range header.
For a moment, a goal seemed certain and the huge bank of Hammers fans were already celebrating. But Foster’s stuck out a thigh and got enough on the ball to take the sting off the effort before Gareth McAuley completed the clearance.
Hammers boss Sam Allardyce then made his final throw of the dice as Sakho was replaced by Carlton Cole and Song by Joey Obrien with 68 minutes gone but two minutes of disaster followed for the visitors as Albion clinched their quarter-final place with 20 minutes remaining.
First came a centre-circle confrontation between Brunt and Amalfitanio when the Albion skipper too exception to his former team mate’s challenge.
The referee rushed to show Amalfitano a yellow card – in time to see the Frenchman respond to Brunt’s anger by shoving him in the face. The red card was instant.
And Albion wasted no time taking advantage as Berahino zeroed in from the right and fooled Adrian by shaping to cross before driving a ferocious cross shot into the opposite corner.
A 4-0 lead against West Ham’s 10 men – Albion really were coasting to the last eight as Adrian was soon forced to make another save, leaping to palm away a goal bound drive by Dawson.
In the 78th minute, Albion made their first change as McManaman took over from Sessegnon and the Albion new boy came within a whisker of opening his account and adding a fifth with a left-foot drive curled a fraction wide.
Albion: Foster, Dawson, McAuley, Lescott, Brunt (c), Gardner (Gamboa 90'), Yacob, Morrison, Sessegnon (McManaman 78'), Berahino, Ideye (Baird 86').
Subs: Myhill, Olsson, Pocognoli, Wisdom.
GOALS: Ideye 20', 57', Morrison 42', Berahino 72'
West Ham: Adrian; Cresswell, Nolan (c) (Amalfitano 60'), Tomkins, Kouyate, Downing, Sakho (Cole 68'), Noble, Jenkinson, Song (O'Brien 68'), Valencia.
Subs: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Henry, Lee.
SENT OFF: Amalfitano 70'
Albion star man: Brown Ideye