There was an unhappy return to sold-out Ashton Gate for David Moyes as West Ham United were frozen out of this FA Cup third-round replay on a chilly night in Bristol.

The Hammers boss spent a couple of seasons with the Robins as a player back in the mid-1980s but endured a miserable night in the West Country as Konstantinos Mavropanos produced a Greek tragedy.

Mavropanos gifted Tommy Conway what proved to be a third-minute match-winner before Saïd Benrahma’s senseless sending-off just after the break all but ended East End interest in this season’s competition.

Despite taking a fourth-minute lead in the first meeting at London Stadium nine days ago, West Ham's fortunes had then taken a decided turn for the worse ahead of this tricky trip to face a Championship outfit now managed by one-time Academy of Football U-23 coach, Liam Manning.

Conway’s equaliser first-time around had not only forced an unwelcome replay but it also dented weary West Ham’s hopes of an extended winter break, while injuries to Lucas Paquetá and Jarrod Bowen sustained at Stratford also added to Moyes’ misery.

The Hammers may well have kicked off in sixth spot in the Premier League – 28 places above the Robins in the footballing pyramid – but with Nayef Aguerd and Mohammed Kudus away on African Cup of Nations duty, too, the Scot really did find himself with a skeleton crew.

Making four changes from the first encounter, Benrahma, Danny Ings, Maxwel Cornet and Aaron Cresswell were all given call-ups in place of Bowen, Paquetá, Edson Álvarez and Pablo Fornals.

Add one space on an under-manned bench, too, and 35-year-old Angelo Ogbonna was left to babysit the likes of rookies Kaelan Casey, Ollie Scarles, Joseph Anang, Divin Mubama and debutant Callum Marshall, who was destined to be handed a late run-out.

With less than three minutes on the clock in this replay, things soon took another decidedly awkward turn for the worse in the tale of two quickfire sliding tackles.

Racing behind a pushed-up home defence, Ings and Cornet were denied by outrushing Robins’ stopper Max O’Leary, whose grounded clearance found its way upfield to Mavropanos – forming the right-hand prong of the Hammers defensive trident.

But the red-faced Greek international could only look behind in horror when his woefully under-hit back-pass sold Łukasz Fabiański short.

That allowed the anticipating, accelerating Conway to poke the ball beyond West Ham’s committed keeper and, with the Poland international now stranded on the edge of his area, the City striker kept his head to slot the 1909 finalists ahead from the tightest of tight angles, as skipper Kurt Zouma desperately tried to cover the vacant goal. 

City’s defeat at Preston North End on Saturday left Manning’s side in 14th place in the EFL Championship and the former West Ham coach had made a couple of switches with skipper Matty James and Ross McCrorie coming in for substitutes Jason Knight and Sam Bell.

Having seen Conway put the second-tier team ahead, McCrorie wasted no time trying his luck with an 18-yarder but his effort lacked precision and power, leaving Fabiański to comfortably gather the low shot.

In reply, Ings sent an awkward 20-yarder just wide and, after left wing-back Emerson’s well-flighted touchline free-kick eluded everyone in the danger-zone before clearing the far post, Cornet was denied in the act of shooting by Cameron Pring’s well-timed tackle.
Moments later – with West Ham gaining momentum in their quest to force an equaliser – Cornet found himself back in the six-yard box, once more, but this time he sent his scissor-kick wide of the left-hand upright.

Next up, it was Ings turn to be denied after taking too long to pull the trigger and the frustration of the helplessly out-of-form striker – having scored just three times in 41 Claret & Blue run-outs since his £12million move from Aston Villa almost 12 months ago - was there for all to see as he skied the now dead ball high into the home supporters packed behind O’Leary’s goal.

With a dismal opening 45 minutes for the Hammers and their 3,337 travelling fans drawing to a close, they had Fabiański to thank for restricting the deficit to just Conway’s opener at the break as he denied Anis Mehmeti and McCrorie in quick succession during stoppage time.

Certainly, that opening half had been an uphill struggle for Moyes’ boys and within just four minutes of a niggly, raucous restart, their task took on mountainous proportions, when Benrahma was dismissed.

A spiteful lunge on the pole-axed Algerian by the consequently-cautioned Joe Williams saw the grounded Hammer kick out at his assailant and, despite staying down for prolonged treatment, referee Darren England waited patiently before producing his red card.

Manning introduced Bell and Nakhi Wells as McCrorie and goalscorer Conway both departed but still the skirmishes and scuffles continued with Cresswell finding himself harshly booked, alongside aggressor Taylor Gardner-Hickman.

Midway through the half, Moyes brought on Ben Johnson for Vladimír Coufal and, with the Hammers substitute still finding his feet on the crisp Ashton Gate turf, Cornet whipped over an enticing left-wing cross that was met by Tomáš Souček, who was left looking high into the chilly Bristol skies after O’Leary brilliantly tipped over the Czech Republic international’s rising eight-yarder.

At the other end, Fabiański was equal to Wells angled screamer that he beat away for a corner before the City substitute then bundled Bell’s byline cross behind at the near post.

The clock ticking down, Moyes had nothing to lose in his quest to rescue the three-time winners’ participation in this year’s competition and, withdrawing the older heads of Cresswell and Ings, he put his faith in youth with the introductions of Mubama and debutant Marshall, who has already been capped three times at full international level by Northern Ireland.

But with only 10 men and only 10 minutes remaining, by now the damage had already been done by those earlier moments of madness and the depleted Hammers departed at the final whistle knowing it will be City who face Nottingham Forest or Blackpool in next Friday’s fourth round.

Bristol City: O’Leary, Tanner, Pring, Vyner, Dickie, McCrorie (Bell 61), Williams, Gardner-Hickman (Knight 74), James, Mehmeti (Cornick 74), Conway (Wells 61). Unused subs: Bajic, King, Roberts, Knight-Lebel, Nelson.

West Ham United: Fabiański, Mavropanos, Zouma, Cresswell (Marshall 80), Coufal (Johnson 66), Emerson, Ward-Prowse, Souček, Cornet, Benrahma, Ings (Mubama 80). Unused subs: Areola, Anang, Ogbonna, Casey, Scarles.

Booked: Williams (49), Cresswell (64), Gardner-Hickman (64).

Sent off: Benrahma (49).

Referee: Darren England.

Attendance: 25,616.