West Ham 1 Ipswich Town 2

West Ham's roller-coaster ride under Alan Pardew continued as Ipswich Town came from behind to snatch all three points with a late double blast.


Jermain Defoe's 49th minute opener seemed set to make it a deserved victory for the Hammers, but Pablo Counago's two goals inside eight minutes after arriving as a substitute ensured that the Tractor Boys stayed above Pardew's men in the table.


It all led to more frustration for the Hammers boss, who has seen his side bounce back from the awful defeat against Stoke City here two weeks ago to produce a memorable comeback against Sunderland and then secure a decent point at Walsall with just 10 men, only for all the hard work to be undone again today.


Pardew had named an unchanged line-up following Saturday's draw at the Bescot Stadium, with Defoe continuing to partner David Connolly up front and Marlon Harewood occupying the wide-right slot in midfield.


In a tight first-half, the former Forest man provided the best chance of the game on the half hour mark when his clever turn allowed him to get away from his marker and send in a low cross to the near post, but Connolly could only steer the ball just wide of the target.


Apart from that incident, both sides were restricted to long-range efforts as the defensive units at each end of the field held firm. Kevin Horlock saw one stunning volley flash just wide, while Defoe and Carrick both went close from distance.


At the other end, James was equal to similar efforts from Kuqi, Bart-Williams and Magilton, although the Hammers keeper was handed a let-off when he wasn't punished for crashing into striker Kuqi in the area as the pair contested a high-ball.


As expected, Defoe posed the biggest threat whenever he gained possession in the final third and you sensed that the young striker would produce the goods if handed the opportunities. Four minutes after the break, he did just that.


A fantastic throw-out from James released Harewood, who raced down the right before cutting the ball back for Defoe to sweep past Davis from six-yards out and help make amends for his third red card of the season at Walsall on Saturday.


That should have been the cue for Hammers to press on and secure a comfortable victory but the hosts simply couldn't find the extra gear as Ipswich started to chase the game and throw caution to the wind. The arrival of substitute Counago in the 58th minute proved to be the turning point.


The Spanish striker added more impetus to the visitors' attack and gave a sign of things to come when Repka was booked for upending him on the edge of the penalty area - a challenge that gave the Czech defender his tenth yellow card of the season and a two-match ban that will rule him out of the vital matches against Preston North End and Sheffield United in January.


With 20 minutes remaining, Ipswich clawed their way back into the game. Counago looked set to receive a return pass from Magilton but fell to the ground under Horlock's challenge and referee Barry Knight immediately pointed to the spot.


The decision looked harsh at first glance but the appeals from the Hammers defence were somewhat muted and Counago picked himself up to stroke the equaliser past James into the bottom corner of the net.


Yet again, Pardew was forced to watch his side concede an equaliser after taking the lead but, unfortunately, this time they didn't hold on for the draw or fight back to regain the advantage.


Just eight minutes later, Joe Royle's side grabbed what proved to be the winner when another substitute, Martjin Reuser, attempted a speculative shot from 35 yards out that was inadvertently directed into the net past a wrong-footed James by the toe of Counago.


Hammers rallied in the last 10 minutes - Hutchison had a decent appeal for a penalty of his own turned down and Carrick should really have done better when handed a clear chance just six yards out in the dying moments - but were left licking their wounds once the final whistle blew.


However, Hammers only have themselves to blame for throwing away the opportunity to climb above Ipswich into third place. After enjoying the greater of the possession and taking a second half lead, the hosts should never have relinquished their advantage.


The trip to Nottingham Forest in just 48 hours time gives them the chance to bounce back immediately, and three points against the struggling Midlanders is vital if Hammers are to avoid slipping any nearer to mid-table mediocrity before the New Year.