Matt's Mission


MATTHEW Etherington has fond memories of playing against Ipswich Town.

The reigning Hammer of the Year scored a magnificent goal against the Tractor Boys in last season's memorable Play-Off semi-final victory at Upton Park, and will be hoping for something similar when West Ham visit Portman Road for the New Year's Day showdown.

"It should be a really good game on Saturday," began Matty. "Ipswich are top of the League and capable of playing some excellent football, so it will be a really tough test for us at their place.

"The Play Off victory last season was a very special match, for everyone connected with West Ham. I'm sure after experiencing that disappointment Ipswich will be out to put on a really good performance against us.

"We have to be ready for that and hopefully we'll respond in the right way. Everyone is looking forward to the game."

With the fighting second-half comeback against Rotherham still fresh in their minds, Alan Pardew's men should go into the game positive. However, Matt admitted that the Hammers will need to raise their game to overcome the in form Tractor Boys.

"We can take heart from the way we came back in the second-half at Rotherham," he admitted, "but we conceded two very bad goals in the first-half and we can't afford to do that against Ipswich.

"They have a lot of quality, especially going forward, and we'll need to be very solid at the back and then take our chances going forward.

"Without doubt it'll be one of our toughest games of the season, but also a very important one, and it would be a great lift for the Hammers fans if we could get a result there.

"We certainly have the ability to beat them, and a result there would be a huge boost going into the New Year.

"We badly need to go on a consistent run and win a few games in a row. The ability is there in the squad and we've shown that we are good enough to be one of the promotion contenders.

"But for whatever reason we haven't done it consistently enough so far this season and we need to change that going into the New Year."

Like everyone at Upton Park, Matty is desperate to win promotion to the Premiership, and admits that he understands the fans' frustration when results aren't going the Hammers way.

"This is a very tough, open League," he said, "and it throws up a lot of tricky games and unexpected results. Everyone at West Ham - the manager, players, staff and above all fans - are determined to win promotion this season. No one is more desperate to make that happen than the players and management at Chadwell Heath.

"We are all frustrated when things don't go to plan, but we are still in there chasing the leaders and a good run over the next couple of weeks will see us right back in contention.

"The fans have been terrific ever since I arrived at the Club and we'll need them more than ever as we make a push for promotion over the second half of the season."