Big Sam elated with Wembley win

West Ham United are heading back to the Premier League after beating Blackpool 2-1 with a winner from Ricardo Vaz Te coming just three minutes before the end.

Manager Sam Allardyce was elated with the Hammers npower Championship Play-Off final victory at Wembley. It was one Big Sam felt West Ham deserved after the effort they had put into the cause this past season.

"I'm totally and utterly delighted with the victory today," said the manager to West Ham TV. "I feel elated to say the very least but also hugely drained because Play-Off finals for managers particularly are one hell of an occasion in terms of wanting your team to go out and win the game of football.

"We have only lost eight games in total (out of 49 league and Play-Off fixtures) and made sure today, even though not at our best, that we won the game which was the most important thing. We took more chances than Blackpool did today and that gives us the right to be back in the Premier League."

Carlton Cole had given the Hammers the lead just past the half-hour mark with a well-taken goal but Thomas Ince scored two minutes after the restart with an almost carbon copy of the opener.

The opening ten minutes were a cagey affair as both teams tried to take in the atmosphere and settle into the match. But it was Blackpool who had the early chances with Matt Phillips twice passing up very good goal scoring opportunities and Stephen Dobbie seeing his near-post shot diverted on to the base of the post by Robert Green.

The first real chance for the Hammers came after 20 minutes as Vaz Te had an effort on the Blackpool goal after good build-up from the Portuguese, Cole and Gary O'Neil but the No12 could only drag his shot wide.

Dressing Room

In truth it was a very scrappy first 35 minutes with so much at stake. West Ham then took the lead as Matt Taylor broke down the left-hand side and floated a delightful ball on to Cole, who took one touch to set himself before placing the ball past Matthew Gilks. Five minutes later Vaz Te had a decent chance but could only poke the ball past the left-hand post.

Blackpool levelled the match just two minutes after the start of the second half when Ince latched onto to a crossfield pass and fired across Green into the corner of the goal. Ian Holloway's side then took the initiative and it took a goal line clearance by Matt Taylor to prevent Alex Baptiste's goalbound effort off the line. Later, Noble had to hack a Matt Phillips effort clear from inside his own six-yard box as Blackpool upped the ante still further.

The Hammers made two early second half subs as Big Sam brought on George McCartney for Gary O'Neil as they tried to change things around and then Guy Demel, who picked up an injury, was replaced by Julien Faubert.

With 20 minutes to go the tension around the ground was palpable - Cole had a swivel-shot well saved by Gilks and Ince into the Hammers area only for McCartney to nick the ball off him.

West Ham thought they had grabbed a winner with ten minutes to go as a deflected cross from Taylor was met on the volley by the skipper Kevin Nolan, but his shot came crashing back off the crossbar.

Then, with time fast running out and extra-time looming large, the Hammers re-took the lead with just three minutes of the 90 remaining. A McCartney cross from the left caused pandemonium in the Blackpool area before Cole finally squeezed the ball off Gilks and into the path of Vaz Te, who expertly rifled the ball into the roof of the net from seven yards.

Behind the goal, the 40,000 Hammers fans went wild, while Big Sam and the West Ham bench emptied in sheer ecstacy.

"What was going through my mind was Chairman David Sullivan pestering me all year saying we have never won a game in the last-minute throughout the entire season!" laughed the manager.

"The first time we have won a game in the final five minutes was in the 49th game in the Play-Off final- you can't get better than that can you!"