Bubbling Hammers 4-6 for Wembley triumph
WEST HAM were odds-on to be promoted to the Premier League after taking a 2-0 lead in the first leg of their Championship play-offsemi-final against Cardiff, and they completed a 5-0 aggregate rout with a convincing victory at Upton Park on Monday.
Just 1-14 to qualify for the final, West Ham were 2-0 up at the break and came through 3-0.
TheHammers are now 4-6 to regain their place in the top flight after relegation last year. They were 2-1 shots to bounce straight back on the day they were relegated last season.
West Ham have twice before reached the play-off final, losing 1-0 to Crystal Palace in 2004 but beating Preston by the same scoreline the following year.
Birmingham face Blackpool on Tuesday night for the right to face the Hammers in the final on Saturday week – the Tangerines lead 1-0 from the first leg and are 8-13 with Hills to make it to the final.
The Blues are 11-8 to overcome the first-leg deficit and reach the final, and defender Curtis Davies has admitted the Midlands side are lucky still to be in contention.
“We’re pretty fortunate that it’s only 1-0,” he said after the defeat at Bloomfield Road. “We didn’t keep the ball well enough.”
Bookmakersare divided over the outcome of the Blue Square Bet Premier promotion race, with Hills making it a choice-affair between play-off finalists Luton and York, while Paddy Power make the Hatters 4-6 favourites with York 11-10 chances. The teams meet in the final at Wembley on Sunday week.
On Monday, Hornchurch and Lowestoft Town won their promotion play-off finals in the Ryman and Evo-Stik Southern Premier respectively.