LONDON, August 26 – West Ham survived a League Cup scare at the hands of London neighbours Millwall on Tuesday in a second round clash that was overshadowed by serious crowd trouble before and during the match.Playing a quality of football that belied their current status in the third tier of English football, Millwall got within three minutes of knocking their Premier League hosts out of the competition after being given a first-half lead by Neil Harris.
But an 87th-minute equaliser from Junior Stanislas sent the tie into extra-time and a second goal from Stanislas, from the penalty spot, and a Zavon Hines strike wrapped things up for the Hammers.
An admirable display by Millwall and a gutsy fightback by their hosts was however marred by the ugly scenes surrounding the match, with one fan stabbed in the chest during pre-match clashes and the game itself marred by a series of pitch invasions and crowd scuffles.
West Ham could now be in hot water with English football authorities over the failure of their stewards to control fans within the ground.
A Football Association spokesperson condemned the incidents as a throw-back to the bad old days of English football.
"We will be working with all parties, including the police and clubs, to establish the facts surrounding tonight’s events," she said.
"We strongly expect all culprits to be banned from football for life. They have no place in our game."
Birmingham also flirted with danger after spending most of the evening trailing another League One outfit, Southampton.
Adam Lallana had given Saints a well-deserved lead but a couple of goals in the space of three minutes from veterans Lee Bowyer and Lee Carsley sent Alex McLeish’s side into the third round draw as 2-1 winners.
Blues boss Alex McLeish said he was happy with the grit displayed by his side. "The performance I’m not entirely pleased with but I didn’t expect it to be smooth – we made a lot of changes and rotated the squad.
"But we soldiered on. When we went behind I thought we were going out of the cup. But I felt we had goals in us."
Burnley went through in similar fashion with Steven Fletcher repaying a significant chunk of his three-million-pound transfer fee with a late equaliser against Hartlepool before striking the winner in extra time.
Hartlepool had taken a first-half lead through Adam Boyd but Burnley were worthy winners after having Richard Eckersley sent off in extra time.
Wolves made hard work of their encounter with Swindon but, after 120 minutes of dour action, Mick McCarthy’s side finally squeezed through with a 6-5 win in the penalty shoot-out.
Elsewhere, Ipswich boss Roy Keane was left still searching for his first win of the season after his side surrendered a lead to lose 2-1 to Peterborough.
The Tractor Boys took the lead through new signing Tamas Priskin but the striker had a a penalty saved by Peterborough goalkeeper Joe Lewis before Posh fought back through goals from Lee Frecklington and George Boyd.