Hammers Going To Cardiff!

IT'S a memorable night for the Hammers at Portman Road as two second-half goals from Bobby Zamora have booked West Ham United's place in the Play-off Final.

Zamora struck twice in ten minutes to send the Hammers to Cardiff with a 4-2 aggregate win over Ipswich Town on a night that will be long remembered by an army of travelling West Ham fans who were again superb.

Alan Pardew made one change from the side that drew 2-2 at Upton Park, Carl Fletcher earning a recall in place of Shaun Newton. It meant a reshuffle for Pards' side, Nigel Reo-Coker moving to the right of midfield and Fletcher coming in to centre-midfield.

Ipswich began this game with the side that finished the first leg, Matt Richards and Darren Currie prefered to Drissa Diallo and former Hammer Kevin Horlock.

The players were greeted by a thunderous atmosphere at Portman Road and it was no surprise that the tempo was fast and furious early on.

With barely a minute gone Marlon Harewood had already let fly for the Hammers, while Tommy Miller had done the same at the other end for Ipswich, both efforts well wide.

On four minutes Bobby Zamora created the first real threat for West Ham, forcing his way to the by-line and whipping in a wicked cross that was plucked from the air by a full-stretch Kelvin Davis.

Ipswich began to probe the Hammers defence though and on 11 minutes opened up a good chance when Jason De Vos flicked on a long throw to an unmarked Darren Currie, but his shot from 12 yards went straight at Jimmy Walker.

Moments later Matty Etherington hit back for the visitors with a weaving run that ended with a shot that drew a smart block out of Davis before De Vos hooked the ball away for a corner.

It was end to end stuff that typified the importance of the occasion. Etherington was again West Ham's dangerman and on 25 minutes another jinking dart in midfield drew a cynical challenge from Ian Westlake that earned the Ipswich midfielder a booking.

On the half hour mark Harewood hooked a volley well over, before Fletcher picked out the marauding Tomas Repka with a wonderful cross-field pass, but the Czech's cross was cut-out by the fists of Davis before it could reach Zamora.

With the half-time whistle seven minutes away Walker suffered a heart-stopping moment when Currie's swerving 30 yard drive wriggled out of his grasp and dipped just over the bar for a corner.

As the half-time whistle approached the frenetic pace of this game refused to abate, the teams trading attacks right up until the whistle, which came with the match still finely poised at 0-0.

HT: 0-0

Hammers began the second-half perfectly, Repka swinging in a viscious right-wing cross inside the opening minute that Fabian Wilnis almost turned into his own net at the far post.

Nigel Reo-Coker's low drive brought a comfortable stop out of Davis five minutes later, which was quickly followed by a similar effort from Zamora, Davis again holding onto the ball well.

The Portman Road atmosphere continued to crackle with tension as both  team's probed in search of that all important first goal.

It arrived a minute past the hour mark and it was Hammers who scored it. Carl Fletcher played the ball into Harewood, who forced his way to the by-line and crossed for Bobby Zamora, arriving to score the simplest of tap-ins and send West Ham's travelling army of fans wild.

It got even better for Hammers ten minutes later. Again Harewood was the provider sendfloating across a wonderful angled cross that Zamora with perfect timing, volleying across Davis and into the corner of the net to make it 2-0.

Ipswich immdeately responded by bringing on Dean Bowditch in place of Jim Magilton. The need for more security at the back prompted Pards to withdraw Tomas Repka and the goalscoring hero Zamora to bring on Christian Dailly and Shaun Newton.

Hammers steeled themselves for a rearguard action, and that's exactly what Elliott Ward was doing when he threw himself in the way of Bowditch's shot as the ball dropped to the young striker in the box.

With two minutes left Mark Noble came on to replace the tired legs of Matty Etherington as Hammers looked to kill off Ipswich's promotion challenge.

The home crowd were briefly encouraged by five minutes of added time, but the West Ham defence, marshalled once again by the excellent Anton Ferdinand, stood firm.

Darren Bent's header from six yards skimmed narrowly past Walker's post, but Alan Pardew's men would not be denied.

The final whistle was greeted with scenes of jubilant celebration by the Hammers faithful as West Ham United once again celebrated a memorable Play-off semi-final victory over Ipswich Town.

Now the Hammers will go to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff hoping to go one better this season and make it a triumphant return to the Premiership.