Nigel Knows Hammers Must Take Their Chance

NIGEL Reo-Coker was named Man of the Match by the Sky TV pundits for his performance in the 2-2 Play-off semi-final first leg draw.

But the midfielder, who captained the side on his 21st birthday, would have gladly sacrificed personal acclaim to see the Hammers hold on to their early two goal lead.

However, he remains confident that Alan Pardew's men can secure the win they need at Portman Road to once again progress to the Play-off Final at the expense of Ipswich.

"We were obviously really disappointed after the game," he admitted, "but that feeling didn't last for long. We couldn't let it because we knew that we had to get right back into our preparation for the second leg.

"I think we played the first leg as though it was the second, probably because we had so many good memories from that fixture last season. Our start was fantastic and we can take a lot of confidence from that.

"We could have had four in the first-half, but as it was we didn't take our chances and that let Ipswich off the hook. They saw a way back into the game and they took it."

Nigel refused to blame the controversial 43rd minute free-kick that saw Ipswich pull a goal back at a crucial stage in the game, instead pointing to Hammers wasted opportunities. He stressed that West Ham could not afford to be so wasteful in the second leg.

"Goals change games," he agreed, "and their first was definitely a turning point. We were angry that the free-kick was given in the first place and then that it was moved forward 10 yards.

But we can't look to that, because we still went in 2-1 up at half-time having been by far the more dominant side in the first-half.

"We have to look at the chances we didn't take, which cost us the win. But we scored two goals against them and looked more than capable of scoring more. That's definitely a positive we'll take into Wednesday's game, because if we can reproduce our first-half display then we'll have a great chance."

Nigel remains confident that Hammers can defeat Ipswich at Portman Road and claim a place in the Play-off Final for the second year running. And he maintains that the spirit in the squad will be crucial in front of Ipswich's own fans.

"We've got to stay strong and together as a team," he explained. "We had a great atmosphere at Upton Park. Our fans were terrific and that was obviously tough for them to handle.

"They're going to have a big atmosphere behind them on Wednesday, which is something we've got to deal with.

"But we're strong enough to handle it and we're confident that we can go through."