Sam Allardyce inspired by Chelsea as West Ham push for promotion from Championship


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The Independent Football

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce is drawing inspiration from Chelsea's Champions League heroics as he targets a final-day push for promotion.

The third-placed Hammers head into tomorrow's home clash with Hull knowing even victory will not be enough to secure their passage out of the npower Championship if Southampton beat relegated Coventry to claim the second automatic spot.

Even a draw might see the Saints, who are two points better off than Allardyce's men with a marginally better goal difference, over the finishing line, although having seen 10-man Chelsea cancel out a 2-0 deficit against Barcelona to reach the Champions League final, he has not given up all hope.

He told West Ham TV: "Most of the pressure lies with Southampton on the day.

"They have really got more to lose than we have because our chances are slim. We have to rely on Coventry doing a big performance and a big favour for us at St Mary's, which is difficult.

"But you never know - 2-0 down, Chelsea, with 10 men against Barcelona, I don't think anyone would have bet on them getting through, and I think even the same with Bayern Munich at 2-0 down.

"But they did. Anything can happen. Under the pressures of a final game of the season when teams are trying to get promoted, there can be a twist and a turn along the way.

"If there is and it's in our favour, we have got to be in a position from our point of view to take full advantage of it."

Southampton blew the chance to end their seven-year exile from the top flight last Saturday evening when they were beaten 2-1 at Middlesbrough.

However, a stadium record crowd of more than 32,300 is expected to turn up tomorrow ready to acclaim their impending return to the big time.

Allardyce's men are at least assured of a play-off place, as are fourth-placed Blackpool, who travel to Millwall, while Birmingham are all but mathematically certain to join them because of their healthy goal difference as they entertain champions Reading.

Cardiff currently occupy the final play-off berth and a point at Crystal Palace would almost certainly be enough to fend off Middlesbrough, who would need to win by 11 clear goals at Watford to overhaul the Welshmen should they only draw.

But if the Bluebirds were to lose at Selhurst Park, the Teessiders could leapfrog them with victory at Vicarage Road.

Matters at the foot of the table have already been decided with Portsmouth and Coventry having joined Doncaster in slipping through the trapdoor.

Pompey travel to Nottingham Forest while Doncaster host Ipswich with nothing more than pride at stake.

Elsewhere, Burnley entertain Bristol City and Leicester head for Leeds, while Barnsley welcome Brighton to Oakwell and Peterborough make the trip to Derby with both sides safe in the knowledge they will be playing Championship football once again next season.