Zamora's double has West Ham bubbling

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The Independent Online

REM are playing at Portman Road in July but the only shiny, happy people at Ipswich last night were the West Ham players and supporters, as Alan Pardew's men reached the renamed Championship play-off final for the second consecutive year. For Ipswich, suffering their sixth play-off defeat in seven attempts, their familiar weakness in these games haunted them once more, leading to Bobby Zamora scoring both second-half goals.

REM are playing at Portman Road in July but the only shiny, happy people at Ipswich last night were the West Ham players and supporters, as Alan Pardew's men reached the renamed Championship play-off final for the second consecutive year. For Ipswich, suffering their sixth play-off defeat in seven attempts, their familiar weakness in these games haunted them once more, leading to Bobby Zamora scoring both second-half goals.

Whether it was nerves or over-familiarity, the glut of goals that these teams provided in the first leg of their play-off semi-final on Saturday felt like a dim and distant memory in the initial exchanges at Portman Road. Then again, with the play-off final and promotion to the Premiership at stake, there was more than the odd sign of nerves creeping in.

None more so than after 36 minutes of an evenly-shared first half. Darren Currie moved inside from his left-midfield station and tried his luck from 30 yards. An innocent-looking shot almost made Jimmy Walker look extremely foolish as he only just managed to fist it over the crossbar when he should have held the ball with ease.

It was Currie who should have broken the deadlock after just 12 minutes. West Ham failed to clear a corner and the ball fell kindly for Currie who volleyed his shot straight at Walker.

Pardew, the West Ham manager, was well aware of the potential consequences for him if he lost this game, but he still chose the moment to tinker with his midfield formation by opting for a diamond shape. It seemed to be a gamble worth taking as it confused Ipswich and gave plenty of room for Matthew Etherington to work with on the left flank.

He tried his luck with one run and shot that Kelvin Davis could only fumble and Richard Naylor cleared, and minutes later he turned provider for Zamora only for the striker to be closed down as he was poised to shoot.

That diamond shape helped the Hammers to be as hard to crack as Pardew would have hoped, as it gave Ipswich's most dangerous players little room for manoeuvre. The likes of Jim Magilton, Darren Bent and Shefki Kuqi were reduced to fighting for scraps in order to stretch the visitors' back four.

In turn, West Ham looked threatening on the counter-attack thanks to Marlon Harewood's pace, which was what undid Ipswich for the opening goal. Carl Fletcher played a pass to Harewood's feet and he spun past Matt Richards, giving him the extra time and space to cross for Zamora who tapped in from two yards out.

With Ipswich running out of ideas, Harewood broke away down the right and crossed for Zamora whose volley on 72 minutes came 11 minutes after his first goal. The strike was well-placed and wrong-footed the unfortunate Davis, who also slipped at precisely the worst moment.

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Davis; Wilnis, De Vos, Naylor, Richards; Currie, Magilton (Bowditch, 75), Miller, Westlake; Bent, Kuqi. Substitutes not used: Price (gk), Diallo, Horlock, Juan.

West Ham United (4-4-2): Walker; Repka (Dailly, 76), Ferdinand, Ward, Powell; Mullins, Fletcher, Reo-Coker, Etherington (Noble, 89); Harewood, Zamora (Newton, 79). Substitutes not used: Bywater (gk), Rebrov.

Referee: S Dunn (Gloucestershire).

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