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England U21 4 Sweden U21 0 match report

England U21 4 Sweden U21 0: Ince scores twice as young guns shine in Walsall

– is an ideal
way to start the calendar year for coach Stuart Pearce, who will be
gunning for success at June's Euro 2013 finals in Israel, with talks
over his own future put on hold until after the tournament.

Injuries robbed Pearce of Raheem
Sterling, Phil Jones and Luke Shaw but it was still a strong line-up
which took to the field, skippered by Henderson – on Sunday voted Under
21s Player of the Year.

Liverpool team-mate Shelvey blazed
over a good chance early on after a lively burst from Ince before
Henderson himself planted a free header wide.

Double: Jonjo Shelvey scored England's second goal in the 30th minute

Double: Jonjo Shelvey scored England's second goal in the 30th minute

Relieved: Shelvey missed a header from two yards out just before scoring

Relieved: Shelvey missed a header from two yards out just before scoring

It was no surprise when a dominant England opened the scoring after 10 minutes.

Shelvey found marauding right-back
Smith with a delightful ball and he in turn sent a teasing low cross
into the box which was slotted home by Ince.

England were in complete control and
it should have been 2-0 after 18 minutes as the impressive Shelvey
somehow headed wide Henderson's cross with the goal at his mercy.

Cruising: Shelvey celebrates his goal with Josh McEachran

Cruising: Shelvey celebrates his goal with Josh McEachran

But Shelvey soon made amends as he
doubled the hosts' advantage, slotting home Ince's miscued shot off the
underside off the crossbar at the far post after Smith had again been
found in space down the right.

It was 3-0 just before half-time as
Sweden centre-back Filip Helander brought down Ince in the area, Josh
McEachran saw his penalty saved by keeper Andreas Linde but Ince swept
home the rebound.

With his side already in the driving seat at the break, Pearce introduced Wickham, Will Hughes and Henri Lansbury.

Rebound: McEachran had a first-half penalty saved before Ince followed up to score

Rebound: McEachran had a first-half penalty saved before Ince followed up to score

Rebound: McEachran had a first-half penalty saved before Ince followed up to score

Ince was denied his hat-trick on the hour mark following a great save from close range by replacement stopper August Stromberg.

Goalscoring opportunities dried up
after the break as both managers made a host of changes although the
Young Lions remained comfortable, with goalkeeper Jason Steele still to
make a meaningful save of note.

But the home side did register a fourth in the 77th minute, Wickham heading home Lansbury's deep cross.

Wickham was denied a fifth by Stromberg but England still ran out easy winners in front of a healthy sell-out crowd of 9,758.

Rout: Connor Wickham rises to head in England's fourth goal

Rout: Connor Wickham rises to head in England's fourth goal

Impressive: Stuart Pearce's side were dominant

Impressive: Stuart Pearce's side were dominant

Spurned: Derby's Will Hughes rues a missed chance

Spurned: Derby's Will Hughes rues a missed chance

Jason Steele of Middlesbrough receives England call

Jason who England turn to Steele to help prepare for Brazil as injured Sturridge gets ready to withdraw following heart-to-heart with Hodgson

when he was selected as Team
GB's understudy to Butland.

He is also remembered for being sent
off after coming on as a substitute for England U21s in a 2-0 defeat to
Germany, when midfielder Henri Lansbury was consequently forced to play
the final 32 minutes in goal.

Brighton 0 Nottingham Forest 0 – match report:

Brighton 0 Nottm Forest 0: Hoskins and Calderon spurn chance to steal win in bore draw

PUBLISHED:

17:40 GMT, 15 December 2012

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UPDATED:

17:40 GMT, 15 December 2012

Brighton and Nottingham Forest missed the chance to move into the npower Championship play-off positions as they played out a goalless draw at the Amex Stadium.

The Seagulls had plenty of opportunities to break the deadlock, with Inigo Calderon – replacing the injured Bruno – almost marking his return to the side with an early goal, only to see his shot come back off the post.

Will Hoskins wasted a trio of chances and Brighton were almost made to rue their failure in front of goal when Billy Sharp, who brushed the crossbar, and Dexter Blackstock went close either side of half-time.

Goalless: Neither side could take their chances at the Amex

Goalless: Neither side could take their chances at the Amex

MATCH FACTS

Brighton: Kuszczak, Calderon, Bridge, Greer, El-Abd, Crofts, David Lopez (Barnes 77), Bridcutt (Hammond 84), Hoskins (LuaLua 69), Mackail-Smith, Buckley.

Subs Not Used: Brezovan, Dunk, Dobbie, Harley.

Booked: LuaLua.

Nottm Forest: Camp, Harding (Halford 46), Collins, Moussi, Hutton, Guedioura (Lansbury 59), Cohen, Reid (Gillett 90), Ayala, Blackstock, Sharp.

Subs Not Used: Darlow, McGugan, Majewski, Ward.

Booked: Reid, Halford.

Attendance: 26,684

Referee: Graham Salisbury (Lancashire).

The latest Championship table, fixtures and results

Kazenga LuaLua, a 69th-minute change
for Hoskins, and Will Buckley almost netted winners late on in a second
half starved of chances, but goalkeeper Lee Camp was on top form to deny
the duo.

The stalemate leaves Gus Poyet's side without a win in three games now and one spot above ninth-placed Forest in the table.

Brighton boss Poyet made three
changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Charlton last week as Calderon,
David Lopez and Andrew Crofts started in place of Bruno, Stephen Dobbie
and Dean Hammond.

Despite beating Burnley 2-0 in their
last outing, Forest manager Sean O'Driscoll made four alterations to his
team with Guy Moussi, Chris Cohen, Adlene Guedioura and Daniel Ayala
playing.

The hosts almost opened their account
in the eighth minute but Calderon saw his left-footed shot from Craig
Mackail-Smith's cutback hit the post.

Brighton went close again shortly
afterwards when Hoskins shot wide from six yards before former England
full-back Wayne Bridge, given space down the left, drilled into the side
netting.

Poyet's outfit continued to dominate
and Hoskins wasted another two opportunities to net the opener,
volleying and heading over from crosses.
Forest midfielder Andy Reid failed to keep an effort down, while
Mackail-Smith went up the other end and fired across goal from a tight
angle after Hoskins set him free.

Camp had to be alert to tip over
Calderon's effort in the 39th minute, but the Seagulls almost went
behind on the stroke of half-time when Sharp clipped the bar from
Cohen's cross.

The visitors started the second half
like they finished the first and were close to netting the opening goal
as Blackstock poked substitute Greg Halford's cross wide.

Camp was on hand to save Calderon's
third effort, while Henri Lansbury – a 59th-minute replacement for
Guedioura – tested Tomasz Kuszczak from 12 yards.

LuaLua almost found the all-important
first goal nine minutes from time when he collected the ball on the
left and cut inside before unleashing a shot which the diving Camp
pushed to safety.

Camp was then on hand to deny Buckley, who had burst through after latching on to a Halford mistake.

Peterborough 0 Nottm Forest 1: Match report

Peterborough 0 Nottm Forest 1: Reid's wonder strike condemns Posh to another home defeat

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UPDATED:

16:43 GMT, 6 October 2012

Andy Reid's superb strike gave Nottingham Forest their first away win in the npower Championship and left Peterborough as the only Football League club without a home point so far this season.

Reid scored the only goal of the game after 51 minutes as Forest halted a five-game winless streak, but they were indebted to goalkeeper Lee Camp who made a couple of good saves to keep his team in front.

Forest also had chances to win by a bigger margin and might have done so had it not been for Posh keeper Robert Olejnik.

You beauty! Andy reid (centre) celebrated his wonderful goal

You beauty! Andy reid (centre) celebrated his wonderful goal

MATCH FACTS

Peterborough: Olejnik,Little (Swanson 63),Brisley, Knight-Percival, Alcock, Rowe (Tomlin 67), Ferdinand, Bostwick, Boyd, Barnett, Sinclair (Berahino 63).

Subs Not Used: Day, Zakuani, McCann, Ntlhe.

Nottm Forest: Camp, Halford, Ayala (Moloney 46), Collins, Harding, McGugan (Jenas 61), Gillett, Reid, Cohen, Sharp, Cox (Majewski 81).

Subs Not Used: Evtimov, Moussi, Guedioura, Coppinger.

Goals: Reid 51.

Att: 10,469

Ref: Mark Haywood (W Yorkshire).

Click here for the latest npower Championship results, fixtures and table

After finally kick-starting their
npower Championship campaign last weekend with a 3-1 victory at Hull and
following up those first three league points with a 2-0 success at
Barnsley on Tuesday night, Peterborough were unchanged for the third
straight game.

Forest made one change as Simon Cox was restored to the starting line up after a one-match suspension.

He partnered Billy Sharp up front as
midfielder Henri Lansbury dropped out of the team and was absent from
the squad ahead of the England Under-21s' forthcoming European
Championship play-off double-header against Serbia.

Lewis McGugan looked up for it early
on with three attempts on the Peterborough goal in the opening 10
minutes, although only one worked Olejnik and that was a 25-yarder
straight at the Austrian.

Forest got the ball into the box
regularly in the first 15 minutes but Chris Cohen twice failed to get
enough on headers to worry Olejnik.

Peterborough won the first corner of
the game after 17 minutes. It signalled the beginning of a sustained
spell of pressure from the hosts during which Nathaniel Knight-Percival
turned a shot over the crossbar.

Tyrone Barnett then curled an effort wide midway through the first half.

Forest battled back and McGugan had
two further efforts either side of the half-hour mark – one going wide
and the other being blocked – before a deflected Cox shot narrowly
missed.

Camp was called into his first piece of meaningful action at the start of the second half.

Reid gave the ball away inside his
own half and Michael Bostwick advanced to the edge of the area before
forcing Camp to beat away his shot. From the resulting corner, Camp
parried again from Barnett's header.

That got the Posh crowd behind their team but they were soon quietened by Reid's blockbuster.

After collecting the ball on the
halfway line, the former Republic of Ireland international let rip from
the left side of the area and his shot flew into the top corner of the
net.

Camp immediately had to preserve
Forest's lead with another parrying save to thwart Barnett after the
striker managed to get his volley in after getting goal-side of Dan
Harding.

Jermaine Jenas, on as a 61st-minute
replacement for McGugan, thought he had scored his first Forest goal in
almost 11 years midway through the second half but the on loan Tottenham
midfielder was denied his moment of glory when a referee's assistant
ruled that Sharp had run the ball out of play in the build up.

At the other end, Camp was at it
again – this time getting down quickly to push a long-range effort wide
from Posh sub Danny Swanson.

Jenas was denied again after 75
minutes when Olejnik got fingertips to his curler from inside the box.
The Posh keeper then produced an even better save from the rebound to
keep out Cox.

Peterborough put Forest under
pressure during the closing stages but the visitors held on and would
have done so by two goals to nil had Olejnik not blocked Sharp's shot in
injury time.

Raheem Sterling not in England squad despite Liverpool form

Sterling misses out on England squad as Liverpool starlet gets Under 21 nod

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UPDATED:

17:00 GMT, 3 October 2012

Raheem Sterling will not join up with the England squad after being selected for the Under 21 side for their Euro play-off against Serbia.

The 17-year-old received a surprise call-up for England's World Cup qualifier against Ukraine after a number of good performances for his club.

Roy Hodgson had considered keeping Sterling in the senior squad for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland, but opted to let him join up with Stuart Pearce's young Lions instead.

Plenty to smile about: Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling in training at Melwood on Wednesday

Plenty to smile about: Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling in training at Melwood on Wednesday

England Under 21 squad

Amos (Hull), Butland (Birmingham), Rudd (Norwich), Steele (Middlesbrough); Bennett (Norwich ), Caulker (Tottenham), Clyne (Southampton), Dawson (West Brom), Lees (Leeds), Rodwell (Manchester City), Danny Rose (Sunderland), Smith (Tottenham), Wisdom (Liverpool); Henderson (Liverpool), Ince (Blackpool), Lansbury (Nottingham Forest), Lowe (Blackburn), McEachran (Middlesbrough), Powell (Manchester United), Shelvey (Liverpool), Sterling (Liverpool), Zaha (Crystal Palace); Delfouneso (Blackpool), Sordell (Bolton), Townsend (Tottenham), Wickham (Sunderland).

The young winger has impressed after
being handed his chance by new Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers this
season, despite the Reds' poor start to the campaign.

Sterling is expected to be handed a bumper new deal at Anfield on his 18th birthday in December.

The Under 21s play their home leg of the Euro 2013 play-off in Norwich on Friday 12 October. The second leg takes place on Tuesday 16 October in Krusevac, Serbia.

Young Lions boss Stuart Pearce wanted to call up Sterling for last month's final Group Eight qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Norway but was convinced to leave him with the Under 19s by Liverpool boss Rodgers.

Sterling, who has made eight appearances for the Reds this season, was joined in a 26-man Under 21 squad by fellow newcomers Nick Powell and Andros Townsend ahead of the first leg of their play-off at Norwich's Carrow Road.

Manchester United youngster Powell hit the headlines last month when he scored on his Barclays Premier League debut against Wigan following his summer move from Crewe, while fellow midfielder Townsend was rewarded for his performances for Tottenham this season.

Pearce said: 'For Raheem, to have an insight into the senior team, is fantastic.

'He's been in our development squads and has done extremely well for Liverpool, and credit to Brendan, who has given him his chance. We are pleased to have him.

Warming up: Sterling and England Under 21 team-mate Jonjo Shelvey (second right) in training

Warming up: Sterling and England Under 21 team-mate Jonjo Shelvey (second right) in training

'Andros Townsend has also done well and has been around Tottenham's first-team squad consistently this year.

'Nick Powell got his move from Crewe, to a massive club at United, and has made his first team bow. He has a really bright future.

'I'm really looking forward to bringing them into the squad to give us a lift. They couldn't come in at a more crucial time.

'Roy [Hodgson] and I have had a long conversation, last night being the last time, and he is more than aware of the Under 21s' key players. What's certain is the players are at the centre of the decisions both Roy and I make.'

Rodgers feels Raheem Sterling would be fully deserving of a place in the senior England squad at the moment.

He said: 'I'm always one for young players. Raheem has been brilliant. He is a real good kid who has stepped into the team and done exceptionally well.

'So in terms of whether he deserves a place (in the senior England squad), then of course – in terms of his performance level, he has been outstanding.

'Thankfully we have an England manager who has many, many years of experience and a wonderful group of players, so if he did get called up, he would be looked after I'm sure.

'I think with young players, we have seen so many times in this country top talents at 17 and 18 who have too much too young and pressure forced on to them too early.

'/10/03/article-2212320-1553F274000005DC-447_634x537.jpg” width=”634″ height=”537″ alt=”Potential: Sterling has not been the only youngster in good form, Suso (right) has turned heads” class=”blkBorder” />

Potential: Sterling has not been the only youngster in good form, Suso (right) has turned heads

There has been talk of the trio being rewarded with new contracts and asked about the matter,

Rodgers said: 'I always believe you have to earn it, but there is no doubt that these boys have done well.

'It
is something that we will look at over the next few months. There have
been discussions between the club and representatives, but it is at an
early stage.'

Someone who has certainly taken note of the emerging young stars at Liverpool is Reds striker Luis Suarez, who knows he has an important role to play in helping them to keep progressing.

'They are all really good players and they are at Liverpool for a reason,' Suarez said.

'The form that Raheem has been showing and Suso the other day – they are showing us that they want to help the team.

'We so-called experienced players are always there to help them so let's hope that they continue to develop and don't just stand still but continue to prove exactly why they are at Liverpool.

Included: Andre Wisdom is another Liverpool youngster in the squad

Included: Andre Wisdom is another Liverpool youngster in the squad

'I think it should be us who are offering advice to them, telling them what they are doing well and not so well, and I think they do realise that they have to learn things from the older players.'

Pearce selected Jack Butland – despite the goalkeeper having been a regular in the senior party under Hodgson – emphasising the importance of the do-or-die Serbia matches.

Manchester City's Jack Rodwell and Nottingham Forest's Henri Lansbury were also called up having returned from injury, while there was a recall for Liverpool's Wisdom, who last featured more than a year ago, but made his first-team debut for his club a fortnight ago.

Pearce added: 'We have to put as strong a squad as possible out.

'If you don't do that at this stage of the competition, then you can make life very difficult for yourself.

'In the side for our play-off against Romania two years ago, we had nine players who have all gone on to play for the senior team.'

Nottingham Forest 0 Derby 1 – match report

Nottingham Forest 0 Derby 1: Rams rock rivals thanks to Bryson intervention

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UPDATED:

14:35 GMT, 30 September 2012

Craig Bryson gave Derby their third successive win over 10-man Nottingham Forest after Dexter Blackstock was sent off in an ill-tempered east midlands derby.

A player had been dismissed in each of the last three meetings between these sides and a fourth always looked likely once the bruising challenges flew in from the off in this npower Championship encounter.

Sean O'Driscoll's side shaded the first period with Simon Cox skewing a swerving effort just past the post.

Close range: Craig Bryson scores the winner

Close range: Craig Bryson scores the winner

Match facts

Nottingham Forest: Camp, Halford (Moloney 78) Ayala, Collins, Harding, Gillett, McGugan (Lansbury 75), Cohen, Reid (Sharp 74), Cox, Blackstock.

Subs not used: Evtimov, Moussi, Coppinger, Majewski.

Booked: Gillett, Reid, Lansbury

Sent off: Blackstock

Derby: Fielding, Brayford, Buxton, Keogh, Roberts (O'Connor 78), Coutts, Bryson, Hendrick, Hughes, Ward (Jacobs 65), Sammon (Robinson 82).

Subs not used: Legzdins, Tyson, Gjokaj, Freeman

Booked: Roberts, Buxton

Goal: Bryson 55

Att: 28,707

Ref: Robert Madley (West Yorkshire)

But the game's turning point came only
32 seconds after the break when Blackstock was sent off for what was
controversially deemed a deliberate elbow into Richard Keogh's head.

The 10 men found themselves behind nine minutes later when Bryson swept home to round off a flowing move down the right.

The Rams were indebted to goalkeeper
Frank Fielding, who made a fine save to deny Simon Gillett at the death
and confirm the three points.

Forest, who left out new loan recruit
Jermaine Jenas, had struck an early blow in this fixture on the previous
three occasions, but they were unable to repeat the feat.

They may well have done, though, had a
penalty been awarded when Cox's cross struck Jake Buxton's arm with
referee Robert Madley viewing the contact as accidental.

Any hopes Madley had of enjoying a quiet Sunday afternoon were soon dashed as both sides set the tone with crunching challenges.

Forest came close as Greg Halford's
long throw somehow evaded everybody before the City Ground erupted in
collective rage as Gareth Roberts became the latest player booked for a
wild lunge on Chris Cohen.

Fielding was grateful for another
blast of Madley's whistle as the Rams stopper was fouled in the build-up
to Danny Collins' header which hit the crossbar.

Conor Sammon and Cox ended the half by trading long-range efforts but the sides went into the break deadlocked.

Richard Keogh and Bryson celebrate

Chris Cohen in dejection

Contrast: Richard Keogh and Bryson celebrate while Chris Cohen is left dejected

Thump: Andy Reid and Bryson (right) battle for the ball

Thump: Andy Reid and Bryson (right) battle for the ball

Thump: Andy Reid and Bryson (right) battle for the ball

If Madley had been conservative with his cards in the first 45 minutes, he sent out a huge message seconds after the interval.

Blackstock leapt with Keogh and, as
both sides wondered if the decision had gone their way, the Forest
striker was shown a straight red for elbowing Derby's skipper in the
head.

Blackstock walked off perplexed and the visitors soon made their numerical advantage count.

A lovely move down the right involving
John Brayford, Will Hughes and Paul Coutts ended with the latter
squaring an enticing centre which Bryson slotted home.

Scrap: Forest's Dan Harding is barged by Paul Coutts

Scrap: Forest's Dan Harding is barged by Paul Coutts

Tussle: Daniel Ayala and Conor Sammon (right)

Tussle: Daniel Ayala and Conor Sammon (right)

Sent off: Dexter Blackstock was dismissed for an elbow

Sent off: Dexter Blackstock was dismissed for an elbow

Jamie Ward left the pitch injured but
Nigel Clough's side continued to press forward as Bryson forced Lee Camp
into a smart stop.

O'Driscoll made a double switch,
introducing Billy Sharp and Henri Lansbury, and Fielding almost gifted
Forest an equaliser when he fumbled a Halford free-kick before gathering
at the second attempt.

But the Rams stopper was alert when called upon again, pushing away Gillett's stinging volley.

Cox and Lansbury were booked in the
closing stages to irk the home supporters further before a minor
confrontation involving Theo Robinson greeted the final whistle, in what
was a fitting end to a fiery affair.

Henri Lansbury joins Nottingham Forest from Arsenal for 1million

Nottingham Forest continue spending spree by sealing 1m Lansbury move

By
Sportsmail Reporter

PUBLISHED:

17:14 GMT, 28 August 2012

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UPDATED:

17:17 GMT, 28 August 2012

Nottingham Forest have completed the signing of Arsenal midfielder Henri Lansbury on a four-year deal for a fee of 1million.

The 21-year-old is the seventh permanent signing made by Forest since the Al Hasawi family's takeover of the npower Championship club, in addition to the loan signings of Daniel Ayala and Sam Hutchinson.

On the move: Lansbury

On the move: Lansbury

Lansbury has spent loan spells with Norwich and West Ham in the last two seasons, helping both win promotion to the Barclays Premier League.

The England Under-21 international has been unable to break into Arsene Wenger's midfield at the Emirates Stadium and has now opted for a permanent switch away.

Forest chairman Omar Al Hasawi told the club's official website: 'Henri joins us as a young player with a rich pedigree and fits the bill perfectly as the kind of talented player that our manager Sean O'Driscoll is intent on bringing into the club.'

By
Sportsmail Reporter

West Ham celebrate promotion to the Premier League

From Wembley to Vegas, the bubbles were flowing after West Ham's play-off success

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 20 May 2012

The bubbles were still being blown over Wembley and popping up more than five thousand miles away in Las Vegas when an emotional Sam Allardyce made his first telephone call after taking West Ham back into the Premier League.

It was to his wife Lynne at the five-star hotel where she is staying with their daughter and grandson on the holiday Big Sam had to miss.

‘They’re eight hours behind and having a drop of pink champagne with their breakfast, I’m glad to say,’ said Allardyce, a winner’s medal draped proudly around his neck. ‘My wife doesn’t do nerves very well. She’s probably better off out of the way anyway.’

Sealed with a kiss: West Ham boss Sam Allardyce celebrates with Karen Brady at Wembley

Sealed with a kiss: West Ham boss Sam Allardyce celebrates with Karen Brady at Wembley

Going up: Kevin Nolan lifts the play-off trophy at Wembley after Ricardo Vaz Te sealed victory

Going up: Kevin Nolan lifts the play-off trophy at Wembley after Ricardo Vaz Te sealed victory

Match facts

Blackpool: Gilks, Eardley, Baptiste, Evatt, Crainey, Ferguson, Dobbie (Bednar 90), Angel (Dicko 90), Ince, Matt Phillips, Kevin Phillips (Sylvestre 71). Subs not used: Southern, Cathcart.

Scorer: Ince 48.

West Ham: Green, Demel (Faubert 57), Reid, Tomkins, Taylor, O'Neil (McCartney 53), Noble, Nolan, Collison, Cole, Vaz Te. Subs not used: Henderson, Maynard, Lansbury.

Scorers: Cole 35, Vaz Te 87.

Booked: Vaz Te.

Referee: Howard Webb.

Attendance: 78,523.

There were certainly nerves. Less than three minutes of normal time were left when Ricardo Vaz Te, a 500,000 signing from Barnsley in January, scored the 46million goal that broke Blackpool hearts.

It was appropriate that one of the manager’s Bolton old boys — and bargain buys — should emerge as the hero because this win was classic Allardyce.

Blackpool are by no means the first to outplay one of his teams and lose. Big Sam has been winning ugly for years but his decision to decline the offer from Newham Council for an open-top bus ride is understandable.

West Ham finished third in the Championship this season and were then second best in a play-off final against the team in fifth, although they have now beaten Blackpool three times this season with an aggregate score of 10-2. Beneath the celebrations lurks a quiet trepidation over how the Hammers will compete after rejoining a league in which the champions are bankrolled by Sheik Mansour of Abu Dhabi.

Golden moment: Hammers chairman David Gold (centre) celebrates with Kevin Nolan (left) and Mark Noble

Golden moment: Hammers chairman
David Gold (centre) celebrates with
Kevin Nolan (left) and Mark Noble

Party time: Hammers

DAVID GOLD TWITTER RANT

Someone from Blackpool or the football league should be publicly apologising to thousands of WHU fans who couldn’t get a ticket. DG @DavidGoldWHU

‘If you own 150 oil wells then it’s no problem, but if you own 150 Ann Summers shops . . . ’ said West Ham chairman David Gold, leaving others to fill in the rest. ‘The hard work starts Monday but I can face everybody — the fans. We talk about money, money, money but there’s an enormous amount of pride.

‘Fans will say hello to me in the street because I am a Premier League chairman and I can say hello to them because they are Premier League fans.’

It seemed harsh that Allardyce was questioned about his relationship with the club’s owners and supporters even as he celebrated taking West Ham up. Harsher still because he passes Blackburn and Bolton coming in the opposite direction, which underlines the job he did at both those clubs.

Close range effort: Thomas Ince beats Robert Green to fire Blackpool level

Close range effort: Thomas Ince beats Robert Green to fire Blackpool level

Gold cooled talk of rewarding the manager with an improved contract, but Big Sam is confident enough in his own ability to target an unlikely run at the top four next season. Maybe the bubbles had gone to his head.

‘I don’t need the security of a contract to work in this game, as far as I’m concerned,’ he said.

‘I’m my own man now. I’m setting myself up here again, by the way, but let’s think beyond fourth and see how far we can get this team in the Premier League.’

West Ham will have to play a lot better than they did here. Blackpool had the clearer chances before they conceded a goal to the impressive Carlton Cole and again after the even more impressive Thomas Ince levelled to silence the fans who have never forgiven his dad, Paul, for leaving Upton Park in 1989. ‘I’m proud of who I am and the name on the back of my shirt,’ said Ince.

Level-pegging: Ince levelled in the 48th minute

Level-pegging: Ince levelled in the 48th minute

‘It’s just jealous people with nothing better to do. I think I proved it doesn’t faze me. Scoring at Wembley is something I will treasure for the rest of my life, but it doesn’t mean that much right now.’

Stephen Dobbie, a play-off final winner for the last two years, will be haunted by his miss before Vaz Te struck gold in the 87th minute.

For Ian Holloway, too, the contrast between the two occasions could not have been greater.

The Blackpool manager looked like a broken man afterwards, his voice cracking with emotion. He talked about pride but also about needing a holiday.

‘It feels like three years all in one go,’ said Holloway, who will take his family to Italy. Now I need a break.’

Opener: Carlton Cole beats Matt Gilks to fire West Ham into the lead

Opener: Carlton Cole beats Matt Gilks to fire West Ham into the lead

Whether he will make a permanent break from Blackpool remains to be seen. Other Premier League jobs could soon come up besides the existing vacancies at West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa, and you wonder whether the popular 49-year-old has taken Blackpool as far as he can.

With offers expected for Ince and Matt Phillips (West Ham tried to get him in the transfer window), another difficult summer beckons followed by what he called another ‘Championship slog’ with no sign of chairman Karl Oyston giving him the money to compete on a level playing field.

Sea of orange: Cole celebrates in front of the Blackpool fans

Sea of orange: Cole celebrates in front of the Blackpool fans

‘We need certain things in place because at the moment we’ve had to beg, steal and borrow, and I need some more coming through,’ said Holloway.

‘I need to talk to my chairman but I’m almost not looking forward to those chats because he gets on his high horse and starts bellowing.

‘He should know what I can do now. As an investment for his football club, I almost got him another 90m. Before I came here, his dad (Owen Oyston) was worth 105m and now it’s 215m.’

Running the show: Sam Allardyce and Ian Holloway study the match from the touchline

Running the show: Sam Allardyce and Ian Holloway study the match from the touchline

Amid the triumph and the tears, Mark Noble and West Ham’s man of the match James Tomkins slipped out of Wembley en route to the airport and a flight to Dubai for Noble’s stag party. The midfielder is marrying his childhood girlfriend Carly on Saturday.

‘We’re finally doing it,’ said Noble. ‘I said that hopefully this season we’d be promoted and we can marry as well. Touch wood, the lucky stars are looking down on me and everything has gone to plan. I’m just not sure I’ll be sober!’

Sam Allardyce wants West Ham to turn up for play-off final

It's Hammer time! Allardyce wants Irons to repeat semi performance at Wembley

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UPDATED:

20:35 GMT, 7 May 2012

Sam Allardyce is looking for a repeat performance at Wembley after West Ham reached the npower Championship play-off final.

The Hammers, relegated last season, are now just 90 minutes from an immediate return to the top flight after goals from Kevin Nolan, Ricardo Vaz Te and Nicky Maynard swept aside Cardiff 3-0.

Having led 2-0 from the first leg, West Ham finished the job in style with a 5-0 aggregate success and will now face either Blackpool or Birmingham on May 19 – the club's first trip to Wembley in 31 years.

Heading to Wembley: West Ham manager Sam Allardyce wants West Ham to perform in final

Heading to Wembley: West Ham manager Sam Allardyce wants West Ham to perform in final

Upton Park boss Allardyce said: 'The away game gave us the platform and this performance, to top it, was terrific.

'I'm pleased for all the players, the staff and the fans.

'We've got a massive opportunity over 90 minutes to get back into the golden league, where it all happens.

'Hopefully we can hold it together and give a performance like we did today when we get to Wembley.

'It's a big pressure for us and whoever we get we will probably be favourites again, but what a fantastic stage to go and play on.'

Well done: Allardyce celebrates victory with Carlton Cole

Well done: Allardyce celebrates victory with Carlton Cole

Both teams knew the importance of an early goal, Cardiff to haul themselves back into the tie and West Ham to kill it off.

And it was West Ham who struck the crucial first blow after 15 minutes, skipper Nolan nodding in the rebound after Carlton Cole's header was blocked by Mark Hudson.

They doubled the lead five minutes before the interval when Vaz Te skipped behind Stephen McPhail and rifled the ball across David Marshall.

Champagne moment: Allardyce hugs man of the match Mark Noble

Champagne moment: Allardyce hugs man of the match Mark Noble

And substitute Maynard had the final say with a superb finish from Henri Lansbury's through-ball a minute from time.

Player of the year Mark Noble, the only survivor from the Hammers side which won the play-off final at the Millennium Stadium in 2005, said: 'Everyone says it's the biggest game in football and it's a great feeling to have made it.

'We deserve it and I'm sure everyone will enjoy the trip to Wembley.'

The only down side for West Ham was an injury to Jack Collison, the two-goal hero of the first leg, who dislocated his shoulder and is a major doubt for the final.

As for Cardiff, they began the season with victory at Upton Park but ended it suffering play-off heartache for the third successive year.

It could have been different had referee Mike Dean not waved away an early penalty claim when Winston Reid sent Kenny Miller tumbling to the floor.

Manager Malky Mackay said: 'I've not seen it again, but little things change games.

'But West Ham were clinical today. We're obviously disappointed, but we knew it would be a tough task.

'Congratulations to West Ham, they deservedly got to the final and good luck to them.'

Pressure on West Ham in Championship play-offs – Malky Mackay

The pressure is all on Hammers, insists Mackay ahead of play-off showdown

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UPDATED:

21:41 GMT, 2 May 2012

Malky Mackay insists the 'demanding' culture at West Ham United has piled more pressure on manager Sam Allardyce to deliver success.

The Hammers face Mackay's Cardiff in the Championship play-off semi-final first leg in the Welsh capital, just five days after failing to secure automatic promotion.

West Ham were favourites to go up following their relegation from the Barclays Premier League 12 months ago, but fell short behind champions Reading and Southampton.

Pipped to the post: West Ham were beaten to promotion by Southampton

Pipped to the post: West Ham were beaten to promotion by Southampton

And former Hammers centre back Mackay, who helped the club achieve promotion in 2005, says expectations in east London have always been high.

He said: 'There is more pressure on West Ham because of the nature of that club. I had a great time there, but there is an expectation level.

'They have a huge and demanding support who expect to be in the top division. It was the same when I was there in 2005. That's not changed this season. They have financial strength and that can be seen by the size and quality of their squad. They have also hired a top manager with a lot of Premier League experience.

PROBABLE TEAMS

Cardiff City (4-5-1):
Marshall; McNaughton, Hudson, Turner, Taylor; Cowie, Lawrence,
Gunnarsson, Whittingham, Mason; Miller.

West Ham (4-3-1-2): Green;
Demel, Tomkins, Reid, Taylor; Lansbury, Noble, O'Neil; Nolan; Cole, Vaz
Te.

'And by the fact they have been in the top one, two or three in the league this season means there is an expectation level there and they will rightly be the favourites.'

Meanwhile, West Ham assistant manager Neil McDonald insists Allardyce – who has been criticised by fans for his style of play – is the ideal man to steer the club through the play-offs.

'For me, you couldn't have a better man in charge than Sam for these games,' said McDonald, who has worked with Allardyce at Bolton and Blackburn.

Confident: Cardiff host West Ham in Thursday night's semi-final first leg

Confident: Cardiff host West Ham in Thursday night's semi-final first leg

'He is so calm, methodical and detailed. There is nothing that we haven't looked at. We are ready for everything. If Cardiff play 4-4-2 with the team we expect, or if they play something else, we will be ready. We have a plan A, B and C.'

West Ham have won 13 away games this season – including a 2-0 win over Cardiff – and McDonald says confidence in the camp is high.

He said: 'Hopefully our away form might intimidate them. It will be a very close game but hopefully we can take advantage of our away form and then bring them back to Upton Park and show them what we have done in the last two home games, which is create lots of chances and score goals.'