Weary West Ham United’s winter break got shorter thanks to this draw at sold-out London Stadium, where the Hammers relinquished their early advantage to find themselves pegged back to an FA Cup third-round replay.

Instead of enjoying a fortnight’s rest, David Moyes men now face a tricky trip to Ashton Gate next week (provisionally Tuesday, January 16,  7.45pm) after top-scorer Jarrod Bowen gave his side a fourth-minute lead with his 14th goal of the season before Tommy Conway levelled on the hour.

West Ham had already kicked off 2024 with a leggy goalless draw against Brighton & Hove Albion on Tuesday and, with his team sitting in sixth spot in the Premier League – 25 rungs above EFL Championship outfit City in the footballing pyramid – Moyes made a quartet of changes for his side’s last game before that winter break.

Naming arguably his strongest available line-up, the Scot – who spent a couple of years at Ashton Gate as a player in the late 80s – recalled Lucas Paquetá, skipper Kurt Zouma, Vladimír Coufal and cup keeper Łukasz Fabiański as Saïd Benrahma, Angela Ogbonna, Ben Johnson and Alphonse Areola all dropped to the bench.

Knowing an outright victory would avoid that unwelcome replay and maximise their January rest period, the three-time winners set about the job in hand from the very first kick but as the game wore on, Moyes saw Paquetá and Konstantinos Mavropanos retire hurt, while rejuvenated City clawed their way back into the tie.

Indeed, the Hammers took just four minutes to get their noses in front when Paquetá - collecting the ball in midfield - chipped the perfect defence-splitting pass forward towards Bowen, who raced behind Rob Dickie. And after juggling the ball around onrushing keeper Max O’Leary, West Ham’s No. 20 fired an angled six-yarder past back-tracking full-back Cameron Pring on the line.

Moyes’ delight at seeing his side gain the upper hand so early into the tie was soon tempered by the sight of Paquetá hobbling away to be replaced by Divin Mubama, while City stopper O’Leary somehow denied Pablo Fornals with a point-blank stop after the lively Bowen cut back from the byline.

A New Year’s Day home defeat to Millwall (1-0) had left the Robins in 11th place in the second tier and former Hammers U23 coach Liam Manning made just two changes to his starting line-up as Sam Bell and Taylor Gardner-Hickman returned in place of substitutes Andreas Weimann and Matty James.

The 9,000 travelling fans had little to cheer during the opening half-hour and, apart from seeing Bell force Fabiański into an early low save and their side muster a trio of corners, it was West Ham who remained firmly on the front foot.

James Ward-Prowse unleashed a low, angled 20-yarder that O’Leary gratefully turned aside before Joe Williams and Conway saw quickfire yellow cards for illegal challenges on the battered Mavropanos, who was consequently forced to retire six minutes before the break.

Still there was time for O’Leary to sprint from his line to slide tackle the galloping Bowen while Rob Dickie might have stolen a stoppage-time leveller after City won a late corner but the well-placed Fabianski was on hand to gather the final header and, in a niggly end to the opening 45 minutes, the upended Edson Álvarez saw yellow for the 11th time in Claret & Blue for kicking out at Williams.

Just after the restart, Ward-Prowse followed the Mexican into the notebook of referee Graham Scott for tripping rampaging Robins’ skipper Jason Knight on the right wing as the visitors emerged for the second half with much more threat and purpose.

Indeed, with the hour mark approaching, Knight stole down that right flank once more and, when his low cross eluded everyone in the six-yard box, Pring somehow lashed behind at the far post to gasps of disbelief from those visiting fans packed behind Fabiański’s goal.

Moments later the frustrated left-back was booked for tugging back Bowen but the double whammy of Pring’s miss and caution was quickly forgotten, when Williams picked up the pieces following a muddled, midfield skirmish in which neither side could retain the ball.

With the West Ham defence having pressed too far upfield, the City midfielder kept his head to send Conway racing clear of Zouma, who was left treading water while only the lone figure of Fabiański now stood between the striker and a visiting equaliser.

Unfazed, Conway picked his spot, drilling a confident low angled 12-yarder beyond the outstretched right glove of the Polish keeper and inside the far post to level the tie for the 1909 finalists.

Their first-half stranglehold a distant memory, the Hammers now found themselves in a typical old-fashioned cup tie and that was the cue for Moyes to bring on Johnson, Maxwel Cornet and Danny Ings at the expense of Coufal, Álvarez and Pablo Fornals, while Manning responded with the introductions of Weimann and James as Gardner-Hickman and Anis Mehmeti departed.

Ten minutes from time, Conway thought that he had grabbed his second of the afternoon but instead of doubling his tally, he endured the double disappointment of seeing an offside flag rule out his goal and the fourth official’s board signal his premature departure, as Nakhi Wells stepped from the bench to replace him.

At the other end, Ward-Prowse’s well-flighted corner saw Tomáš Souček’s towering header create a goalmouth scramble that climaxed with Ings scuffing an angled effort into the side netting and, although their name remains in tomorrow night’s fourth-round draw, West Ham now travel to the West Country next week with work to do.

WEST HAM UNITED: Fabiański, Coufal (Johnson 74), Emerson, Mavropanos (Ogbonna 39), Zouma, Álvarez (Ings 74), Ward-Prowse, Souček, Fornals (Cornet 74), Paquetá (Mubama 14), Bowen. Unused subs: Areola, Cresswell, Benrahma, Coventry.

BRISTOL CITY: O’Leary, Tanner, Pring, Vyner, Dickie, Williams, Bell (Cornick 86), Knight, Gardner-Hickman (James 74), Mehmeti (Weimann 74), Conway (Wells 80). Unused subs: Bajic, King, Knight-Lebel, Nelson.

Booked: Williams (33), Conway (35), Álvarez (45+5) Ward-Prowse (52), Pring (60).

Referee: Graham Scott.