West Ham have confirmed their return to the Premier League for next season, after a 2-1 play-off win over Blackpool, at Wembley. The Tangerines will rue missing a number of easy chances in the game.
The game started with an early shot on goal for Ian Holloway's side - forward Stephen Dobbie forced a save from West Ham's Rob Green after just three minutes; West Ham's Matt Taylor was guilty of a weak pass back to Green. Despite a number of other opportunities for Blackpool, the score remained level as the match progressed.
It was, however, a very intensely fought match, with both sides battling for every inch of the turf and each looking threatening in their own right.
Blackpool missed a golden opportunity in the 14th minute, when striker Matt Phillips was put through on goal only to fire a weak shot straight at Green. Phillips was in action again, only a couple of minutes later - this time he fired narrowly wide after pouncing on an error by West Ham's Guy Demel.
Slowly, however, the Hammers settled into the game and began stringing a few passes together. Ricardo Vaz Te was on hand to give Blackpool a shock - the Portuguese collected the ball from Gary O'Neill before hitting the side netting. O'Neill was on hand again to send a good cross in to Blackpool's penalty area. However, Carlton Cole missed the chance.
The Hammers were the ones who finally broke the deadlock, when Cole scored after 33 minutes following a pass from Taylor. The striker muscled his way past defender Ian Evatt to comfortably beat Matt Gilks in the Blackpool goal. Vaz Te had an excellent chance to double the lead before the half time interval but he fired wide.
Blackpool responded immediately after the break, though, with winger Tom Ince shooting past Green from a Phillips cross. The Hammers were clearly taken aback at the goal and nearly conceded a second soon after. It was Phillips again who was proving to be a menace for West Ham. The forward sent a good ball in to Alex Baptiste whose chip cleared Green but found Taylor, who cleared the danger.
Unfortunately for Holloway, just as in the first half, it was West Ham who broke the deadlock again... and this time in the 87th minute, leaving little time for a second reply.
Cole's shot on goal, after being fed by midfielder Kevin Nolan, was saved by Green but the rebound fell kindly to Vaz Te and the former Bolton man made no mistake!
West Ham, then, will return to the Premier League for the 2012/13 season, alongside Reading and Southampton.