Alan Rues Tough Draw

ALAN Pardew could not conceal his disappointment after seeing his Hammers side pegged back to 2-2 by Ipswich in the Play-off semi-final first leg, but insists his side remains confident ahead of the trip to Portman Road.

"It was a really good game," explained the Hammers boss, "and both sides had spells where they were on top.

"We had a great start. There was a magnificent feeling inside the stadium and we took advantage of that and were really on top of Ipswich.

"I think we've proved that we can score goals against Ipswich and I'm confident that we can score at Portman Road. If we do that then it's going to be very tough for them, because that means they've got to score two or even three or four to win the tie.

"Make no mistake about it, we're disappointed not to have won the first-leg especially having led 2-0. But we'll pick ourselves up and be ready for Wednesday because we're still very much in this tie."

The Play-offs bring tension in abundance and Saturday's clash was no exception. The Hammers boss was certainly frustrated with they way the game was officiated, particularly when the referee delayed the Ipswich free-kick just before half-time which led to their first goal as he pushed the Hammers wall back.

"It was frustrating," admitted Pards. "We were disappointed with the decision for the free-kick in the first place and then he made a real meal of getting our wall back.

"The inconsistency of the referee was a problem for us all day. When we had a free-kick in the second-half for instance the wall only looked like it was back about eight yards.

"In a game like that the one thing you need is consistency from the referee, but we didn't get that and both myself and Joe were frustrated."

Frustrations on the touchline indeed seemed to boil over early in the second-half when Pards and Royle appeared locked in a heated exchange, but the Hammers boss was happy to clear up the situation.

"It was tense during the game," explained Pards. "He wasn't happy about the multi-ball system we were using and I took exception to one of his players who fouled Matty Etherington from behind and he reacted to that.

"But we were all tense, these games are huge and the pressure is immense. Joe's a good man and an excellent manager."

Etherington was certainly West Ham United's danger man, particularly in the first-half when he set-up both goals and gave visiting full-back Drissa Diallo a torrid time. For his trouble, Matty took some heavy knocks, but Pards insisted that he would nurse the winger back to health whatever it takes.

"Matty's battered and bruised," he admitted. "He was a livewire all afternoon, a real threat, and I'm sure he'll be a threat to them again on Wednesday night.

"He'll be fit I'm sure about that. I'll take him home and look after him myself if I have to!"