Filed: Tuesday, 17th April 2012
By: Staff Writer
West Ham are heading for the play offs barring a miracle after failing to secure a record 13th away win of the season at Ashton Gate tonight.
With Southampton winning comfortably at Peterborough tonight - and Reading beating Nottingham Forest in this evening's late kick off - West Ham find themselves five points adrift of the automatic promotion places with just two games of the league campaign left to play, after failing to break down a Bristol City side fighting for their own Championship survival.
However Birmingham's failure to beat Ipswich at Portman Road tonight ensured that West Ham cannot finish lower than third in the table - meaning a guaranteed home fixture in the second leg of the play-off semi finals.
Although there was no lack of effort on West Ham's part tonight, it just wasn't to be as Big Sam's boys failed to break down a resolute City side for whom a point virtually guarantees another season in the Championship.
James Tomkins got the Hammers off to an excellent start by putting the visitors in front on 25 minutes with a well-taken header from a deep Mark Noble free-kick. However United's lead was to last just four minutes before the usually-reliable Robert Green made an uncharacteristic error, allowing Cole Skuse's long-range effort to find the back of the net.
Despite enjoying 53 per cent of possession and enjoying 12 shots at goal compared to Bristol's seven, the Hammers never really looked like adding to Tomkins' first half opener - even when Allardyce went for broke, leaving just two men at the back for the final few minutes.
All of which means that barring unlikely defeats for Southampton in their final two games of the campaign against Middlesbrough (a) and Coventry (h) - combined with wins for West Ham at Leicester and then at home to Hull - Irons fans face the nerve-wracking prospect of the play-offs for the third time in the last eight years.
With the remaining three places looking likely to be filled by Birmingham, Blackpool and Cardiff it promises to be a tough fight - although one consolation is that should West Ham win their semi-final they will be facing a return to Wembley for the first time since 1981.
Bristol City 1 West Ham Utd 1: match facts
West Ham Utd: Green, Demel (Faubert 74), Reid, Tomkins, Collins (Carew 63), Lansbury, Noble, Nolan, Taylor, Vaz Te, Maynard (Collison 74).
Subs not used: Henderson, Diop.
Goals: Tomkins (25).
Booked: Reid (49), Collins (58).
Shots on/off target: 6/6 (12).
Bristol City: Gerken, Fontaine, Amougou, Skuse, Foster, Bolasie (Woolford 69), McGivern, Cisse (Adomah 69), Pearson, Wood, Stead (Carey 88).
Subs not used: James, Kilkenny.
Goals: Skuse (29).
Booked: Skuse (56), Amougou (66), McGivern (74), Stead (81).
Shots on/off target: 2/5 (7).
Possession: Bristol City 47%; West Ham Utd 53%.
Referee: Craig Pawson.
Assistants: Justin Amey and Andrew Bennett.
Fourth Official: Wayne Barratt.
Did you know? West Ham have still lost less games than any other team in the Championship this season - just eight out of 44.
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by Tell it how it is Charlie!
01:36PM 18th Apr 2012
''The trouble is that if you want to obtain automatic promotion, draws count for very little!''
09:14PM 17th Apr 2012
''After finally going to a 4-4-2 with emphatic results Allardyce reverts to 4-3-3. Well done Sam. Whatever Prozone is telling you it's wrong.''
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