Zamora makes doubly sure
Bobby Zamora scored two second-half goals at Portman Road last night to return West Ham to Cardiff and leave them 90 minutes away from the Premiership.
Now West Ham have the chance to make amends for their capitulation in last year's final to Crystal Palace.
The former Tottenham striker was playing only because Teddy Sheringham was injured and could even lose his place to the returning former England forward when West Ham meet either Derby or Preston at the Millennium Stadium on Monday week.
Last night's game began with both sides showing nerves but with Ipswich determined to take early benefit from home advantage.
Both made changes from the first leg, when West Ham threw away a two-goal advantage. Ipswich, without the injured Pablo Counago, recalled Matt Richards and Darren Currie, for Drissa Diallo and Kevin Horlock, while West Ham introduced Wales international Carl Fletcher for Shaun Newton.
Given the history of Ipswich and West Ham manager Alan Pardew in the play-offs, the anxiety was understandable. This was Ipswich's seventh play-off adventure; their only previous success was in 2000, when they beat Barnsley to reach the Premiership.
Pardew was manager of West Ham when they lost in the play-off final last season, and he had failed in two previous play-off campaigns with Reading.
But Pardew saw his team force the early chances, with Zamora's cross cut out in acrobatic fashion by Kelvin Davis, and Matthew Etherington's drive only parried by the Ipswich goalkeeper.
Ipswich had finished three places and 12 points better off than West Ham in the Championship, scoring 19 more goals, and their first reasonable effort came with 13 minutes played when Currie's shot embedded itself in the midriff of Jimmy Walker, the West Ham goalkeeper.
As the game progressed so West Ham, who were 2-0 up by the 13th minute on Saturday, began to settle and offered a continual barrage, particularly down the left flank.
Etherington, who finished the first leg battered and bruised from a succession of robust challenges, was fouled again midway through the first half, Ian Westlake being cautioned for sending the winger flying.
West Ham were being given space and when Tomas Repka was allowed to overlap down the right, it needed another intervention from Davis to prevent the ball reaching Zamora.
Soon afterwards an error by Westlake gave Marlon Harewood a run at goal. Westlake tried to trip the striker, Harewood kept his feet and referee Steve Dunn gave West Ham the advantage from which the striker won only a corner. Had he not regained his footing, Westlake, 21, could have been off.
Walker, who had conceded an own goal four days earlier, was deceived by the swerve of a shot from Currie, the ball slipped out of his grasp but went just off target. But before the interval Repka tested Davis again with a shot of such ferocity, from an acute angle, that the goalkeeper needed treatment after saving with his face.
In the second half Tommy Miller struck a half-volley narrowly wide but West Ham, with Davis saving from Zamora's long-range effort, continued to pose the greater threat.
Play-offs rarely win design awards and this was no exception but as time began to run out so the tension and anxiety more than compensated for the lack of style.
Anton Ferdinand appeared to push Darren Bent in the back in the 58th minute but, in the 61st minute West Ham got the goal they deserved. Fletcher threaded a low ball to Harewood on the right. After holding off a challenge from Richards, the striker sprinted powerfully to the byline and delivered into the box where Zamora needed no more than a simple left-foot tap-in to claim his 11th goal of the season.
West Ham confirmed their win in the 72nd minute when another Harewood cross was volleyed beyond Davis by Zamora, who was granted the freedom of Suffolk to claim his second goal.
John Ley (sport.telegraph)