Hammers sign off on a high

Carlton Cole scored twice as West Ham United beat Hull City 2-1 in their final game of the season but the Hammers will have to settle for a play-off spot after results elsewhere did not go their way.

Sam Allardyce's side have now won their last two home games and have not lost in their last eight away matches, meaning they will go into Thursday's Play-Off semi-final first leg with Cardiff on a high. Big Sam was happy with the way his side went about their business against Hull City on Saturday lunchtime.

"We finish the season on a high; we won our last two home games playing very well indeed," Allardyce said. "We have had outstanding away results all season and at home too apart from the string of four draws. That was the only difference between automatic promotion and the Play-Offs - our run of four home draws has ultimately cost us."

West Ham started the game brightly with Ricardo Vaz Te placing a header inches wide after just four minutes. Henri Lansbury's cross from the left- hand side was met by Vaz Te who rose unmarked at the far post but the ball slipped off his forehead and drifted past the post.

The first 15 minutes were a tight affair with the Tigers trying to contain West Ham with ten men behind the ball. However, the Hammers continued to create opportunities. Just before the half-hour mark skipper Kevin Nolan looped the ball on to Lansbury but the on-loan midfielder couldn't get his foot over the ball and he blasted his shot high over the goal.

West Ham got the goal their attacking play deserved ten minutes before halftime when Matthew Taylor's corner was met by Carlton Cole six yards out. The striker powered his header towards the bottom corner and Hull City defender Paul McKenna was unable to prevent it from crossing the line.

Three minutes later West Ham had a chance to further their lead when Vaz Te found himself free on the left-hand side but he flashed his shot just past the far post. Manager Allardyce was stunned it was only 1-0 at the break.

"We completely annihilated Hull City in the first half. I was amazed at half time it was only 1-0 to us it should have been like the Brighton score. But we didn't convert our chances even though we had the opportunity to do so."

The Hammers doubled their lead immediately after the restart, though, with Lansbury's excellent cross-field pass finding Cole who expertly chested the ball down before poking it with the outside of his boot past Vito Mannone. Cole, who is now West Ham's top scorer with 14, clearly impressed Big Sam.

"We deservedly doubled our lead just after half time with an outstanding goal from Carlton Cole. He got two goals, which is very important going into the Play-Offs as our front men will need to contribute in a very big way during the Play-Offs.

"Nicky Maynard and Sam Baldock came off the bench and played very well too. These are the players we need to be on form for the Play-Offs."

Hull City got a goal back ten minutes from time when confusion in the West Ham defence between Guy Demel and goalkeeper Robert Green allowed Corry Evans to outjump Green and head into the net.

The Hammers had a late scare five minutes from time when Richard Garcia headed in Liam Rosenior's cross only to see his effort chalked off by an offside flag. But they held on to what was a well-deserved win.

After the full-time whistle the West Ham squad went on a lap of the pitch to thank the fans for their fantastic support this season. Now attention will turn to the Play-Offs and the two games against Cardiff City.

"The Play-Offs are a one-off event. It's completely unique in its atmosphere, its tension and the pressure you are under. You have got to deal with it properly and good form or bad form it counts for nothing. You have got no margin for error; you have to do it right on the day and then hope the other forces you can't control don't go against you.

"We lost in the last minute against them in the first game of the season and then we beat them at their ground in March. So it's one win each and we go into the game on Thursday making sure that when we come back to the Boleyn we are still in the tie hopefully with a lead which we can build on and progress to Wembley."