Npower Championship Play-Off Final
Blackpool 1-2 West Ham United



Vaz Te, who has now scored twelve goals since joining the Hammers in January, slams the ball into the roof of the net to win the game (above top); while skipper Kevin Nolan, boss Allardyce and Carlton Cole celebrate the success with the trophy (above below) 



By Alex Byrom
Deputy Football Editor from Wembley Stadium


Ricardo Vaz Te fired in an 87th minute winner as West Ham were promoted to the Premier League after just one season in the Championship after beating fellow relegated side Blackpool 2-1 at Wembley. 

The Hammers, overwhelming favourites going into the game, took the lead through Carlton Cole, but Tom Ince, hero in both legs of the Semi-Final against Birmingham, equalised with a close in finish, before Vaz Te fired in from six yards to send West Ham back to the Promised Land. 

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce decided to keep faith with the eleven that had thrashed Cardiff 3-0 at Upton Park, in the Semi-Final 2nd Leg last week - to win 5-0 on aggregate with Jack Collison passed fit to play despite dislocating a shoulder in the second leg of the tie. 

Ian Holloway, meanwhile, made just one change from the side that edged out Birmingham in their Semi-Final, with 38 year-old Kevin Phillips coming in for Gary Taylor-Fletcher, who missed out through an injury picked up in training this week. 


Blackpool have been behind in 29 Championship games this season but have come back to collect more points than any other team.

In truth, all the media, bookmakers, and neutrals, had this match down as an easy West Ham victory, especially since the Hammers had thrashed the Seasiders in both League matches this season: 4-1 and 4-0. But it was far from that; it was a typical final: close, cagey and tight. 

Blackpool started the brightest with Stephen Dobbie - who has 7 goals in 8 games since joining on loan from Swansea - fired straight at Green, after some nice inter-play with Tom Ince. 

Blackpool continued to press with some neat passing, and Matt Phillips, with 20 goals plus to his name this season, saw his shit well held by Green. 

West Ham finally managed to fashion something as Carlton Cole was unlucky to see a header go wide of the target, before Jack Collison fired wide after neat work by Cole. 

Both defences were coping pretty comfortably, with Blackpool shading possession, although West Ham did have some nice spells, but neither keeper had been forced into a decnet save.  

The Hammers took the lead, slightly against the run of play, on 34 minutes: Carlton Cole managed to get his head to Matty Taylor's cross from the left, and direct it past Gilks. Vaz Te then was way off target as West Ham tried to use their new-found momentum to score another before the break. 

3 minutes before the half time whistle, Blackpool came close to equalising: Angel however, could only get his foot under the ball and it flew into the cheerful West Ham fans behind the goal, yet it was a warning for the 3rd place side, that the match was far from over. 


Eight of the last nine play-off finals have been won by the side that have scored the opening goal. 

Referee Howard Webb, off to the Euros in just 20 days' time, blew for Half Time - leaving West Ham pretty happy with the first 45 minutes, whilst there were a few things for Ian Holloway to ponder at the inteval. And whatever he said worked.

2 minutes into the second half, a long ball worked a treat for the Tangerines. Matt Phillips lifted the ball forward, Winston Reid misjudged the flight of the ball, allowing Thomas Ince to run in and score past Rob Green; that is the margins, hardly anything. One small mistake had been haarshly punished. 

The momentum was now with Blackpool and Taylor had to be alert to block a shot from Baptiste after a corner wasn't cleared properly. 

West Ham were then forced into a couple of changes: George McCartney replaced Gary O' Neil - who just felt his thigh - so Matty Taylor moved forward into midfield; Guy Demmel was then replaced by Julian Faubert, with Reid moving across to partner Tomkins in the centre. 

Collison had a great chance to make it 2-1, but instead he cleared the bar from inside the six yard box, after another excellent cross from Matty Taylor, released by Nolan.

Carlton Cole was still a threat up front - and he latched onto a slight slip by Evatt but his shot was held by Gilks. The game was beginning to open up, you would think suiting Blackpool more? 

On 67 minutes, Stephen Dobbie managed to squeeze through but Mark Noble just got back and it trickled out for a corner. From the resulting corner, there was an almighty scramble as first Ian Evatt's shot was blocked, and then Alex Baptiste skied the rebound over the bar. 

To add another man into midfield, Slyvstre replaced Kevin Phillips who had been largely ineffective for a large spell of the second half. Dobbie, now in a more central role, tested Green with a dipping shot but the England man pushed it away to safety for a corner. 

Matt Gilks at the other end showed great athletisism to keep out Nolan's shot from inside the box after McCartney's run down the left hand side. 

As the final 10 minutes drew in, Dobbie headed Crainey's header straight to Green, almost as if it was a backheader by a defender. Into the final 5 minutes, both sides were doing everything to keep it level, but that meant that no-one looked like scoring.

Up stepped Ricardo Vaz Te: the 21 year-old scored his 11th goal since joining from Barnsley in January, smashing in to the roof of the net. Carlton Cole was trying to get a shot away, but a combination of Gilks and Evatt prevented him from doing so, and the ball fell to the former Bolton man who lashed it into an empty net to send players, staff and 40,000 fans into delirium. 


The only side that has come from behind to win the Play-Off final was Blackpool in 2010. 

To late substitutes couldn't spark a late twist for the Tangerines, and Matty Taylor's shot went over the bar, nearly putting the icing on the cake. 

Finally the final whistle blew, and the Hammers could celebrate a return to the top flight after just one season. 

Alex Byrom
The Football Site - Deputy Football Editor

"Congratulations to West Ham! Commiserations to Blackpool. The Hammers are back in the Premier League and the fans will want them to stay there this time. The best team edged there, but Blackpool were well in the game for long spells. That's what football is all about: two teams going all out to try and get into the best league in the world. Blackpool can point to the last goal, but West Ham deserved that bit of luck. West Ham have continued the tradition of 3rd place teams getting promoted. They have the best squad; the best team; the biggest ground; the best fan base. Blackpool need to recover and Ian Holloway will not give up. Finally, extreme credit to Sam Allardyce. The pressure he's been under to get promoted has been immense and he must be very proud. The fans have been getting on at him, more when they missed out on automatic promotion. But he's kept the faith, and has reaped the rewards. He has bought well, and contrary to what Hammers' fans think - they have played some fantastic football also."


Saturday 19th May 2012

Npower Championship Play-Off Final

Wembley Stadium


West Ham United 2-1 Blackpool                           KO 3pm             (HT 1-0)

Cole 35                    Ince 48    
Vaz Te 87


West Ham:  01. Green- 6.5/10, 02. Reid- 5/10, 05. Tomkins- 6.5/10, 20. Demmel- 4.5/10 (Faubert 57- 6/10), 14. Taylor- 6.5/10, 04. Nolan- 7/10, 16. Noble (C)- 6.5/10, 10. Collison- 7/10, 32. O' Neill- 6/10 (McCartney 53- 5/10), 09. Cole- 8/10, 12. Vaz Te- 9/10.

Subs not used:  13. Henderson, 22. Lansbury, 08. Maynard

Booked:      Vaz Te (88)


Blackpool:  01. Gilks- 7/10, 05. Eardley- 6.5/10, 15. Baptiste- 7/10, 06. Evatt- 7/10, 03. Crainey- 6.5/10, 31. Angel- 7/10 (Dicko 90- 1/10), 16. Ferguson (C)- 6/10, 23. M. Phillips- 7.5/10, 09. K. Phillips- 6.5/10 (Sylvestre 71- 3/10), 07. Dobbie- 7.5/10 (Bednar 90- 1/10), 36. Ince- 8.5/10.

Subs not used:  20. Cathcart, 4. Southern 

Booked:      None


My Man of the Match:     Ricardo Vaz Te (West Ham United)- Rating 9/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:    Guy Demel (West Ham United)- Rating 4.5/10



Referee: Howard Webb MBE (South Yorkshire)- 9.5/10
Attendance: 78,523


Match Facts

Possession:   Blackpool- 52%                  West Ham United- 48%

Shots: Blackpool- 14                  West Ham United- 12

Shots on target: Blackpool- 7                  West Ham United- 4

Shots off target: Blackpool- 7                  West Ham United- 8

Corners: Blackpool- 4                  West Ham United- 5

Fouls: Blackpool- 6                  West Ham United- 8

Offside: Blackpool- 53%                  West Ham United- 47%

Assists: Blackpool- M Phillips                  West Ham United- Taylor, Cole



Ian Holloway - Blackpool Manager

"We've got to bounce back, it's all about building. We've got to get over playing in the Championship again, because we thought we were going to get promoted but it wasn't to be- they were the better team and we have to live with the fact we have been beaten. You cannot win every year. I am proud of the players. They [the players] just lost a great big bonus and I feel for them; they deserve more. But they should be proud of their efforts, this is a fantastic group of players and I'm proud to be a part of it. It is still a great achievement to get here having knocked out a good team in the semi-finals and beaten better teams to finish in the top six."

Click here to hear the full interview with Ian Holloway



Sam Allardyce - West Ham United Manager

"It's great! right up there with the best for me because of the size of West Ham and the pressures [we've been under] especially this season. You get critics everywhere, a small minority who make themselves heard at every club, but the vast majority have been right behind the team. It would have been devasting [to not get promoted], according to the owners, it would have meant a reduction on the age bill of £10 million and offloading players for next-to-nothing - whilst still achieving what every fan wants. I'm just delighted to be back in the Premier League; it means everything to me." 

Click here to hear full interview with the West Ham Manager

Click here to hear the full interview with Kevin Nolan - pitchside

Click here to hear the thoughts of Captain Mark Noble

"We deserved it" - Listen to winner Vaz Te's thoughts

Click here for the thoughts of co-owner David Gold

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