It is a mark of West Ham's professionalism that romance never crept into this Capital One Cup tie. They shunned the notion that a knockout match should be volatile. Crewe Alexandra can never have anticipated victory even if Ajay Leitch-Smith was able to test the hosts' goalkeeper Stephen Henderson. By and large, this was an exercise in professionalism, with little fuss.

The post-match comments were also understated. "It was all about doing the right thing at the right time," said West Ham's assistant manager Neil McDonald, after youngsters including Henderson, who was making his competitive debut, had taken part. "It was a perfect opportunity to give them a go."

The appearance of a knockout tournament on a fixture list can provoke a reaction, On this occasion, Sam Allardyce decided that just one player, Kevin Nolan, would remain in the starting line-up from the defeat to Swansea at the weekend.

Allardyce presumably anticipated that the men introduced would want to show themselves to advantage. Prior to the interval, they did hog possession but to little effect as Crewe settled into the the sort of resistance intended by their manager Steve Davis.

That obduracy, all the same, could not last. Allardyce's side took the lead after 34 minutes. Modibo Maiga linked well with Ricardo Vaz Te on the right before Nicky Maynard swept a neat shot home at the near post. By then, hope was draining away from the visitors.

Davis has witnessed volatility in his team, who opened their season by trouncing Hartlepool 5-0 in this competition, but, at the weekend, conceded as many goals at Brentford in League One.

Davis does not have the means at his disposal for radical alteration. By comparison, West Ham are well-staffed and the reshuffle of the line-up worked well. .

Satisfaction would still have been qualified by the fact that the lead was slender for a while. Crewe emerged for the second half with more purpose in attack. West Ham looked a little surprised to be under any pressure and there was an appeal for a penalty when Alou Diarra made a challenge on Harry Bunn.

This was always bound to be a psychological contrast, but West Ham, even if they could not see this as a major occasion, consolidated. With 54 minutes gone a free-kick was slipped through to Nolan. His finish was blocked by the goalkeeper Alan Main, only for Maiga to convert the rebound. The Mali international, signed from the French club Sochaux, had notched his first goal for the club. For his team-mates, there was satisfaction over a task completed with competence.