Full marks to Ollie, he played his mind games all week and sent out a team well pumped up and briefed to exploit our flanks. First ten minutes, Taylor was all at sea at left back and until he went off, Demel was a disaster. Blackpool could have been three goals up inside 20 minutes and should have scored another in the second half. Green was so nearly beaten at his near post, Demel lost the ball for another chance and Taylor did his level best to assist a Blackpool opener too. But was I ever worried? Nope. Not even when Blackpool equalized! Class will out in the end nine times out of ten and Blackpool hadn't lost nine on the bounce against us going in to the game. Never mind you Tangerine Dreamers, your time will come - eventually.
So who played well for West Ham? Cole took his goal superbly and assisted Vaz Te for the second. Generally speaking, he led the line well. Tomkins was excellent at the back, although he over committed himself prior to the move that Phillips really should have scored from in the first quarter of an hour. Vaz Te was lively but should have put the game beyond Blackpool when clean through. Had that one gone in, I fancy we would have won by four or five. But those apart, who?
Green made one good save,turning the ball onto the post, and one routine save, turning a shot from the edge of the box round the post, but otherwise was untroubled except when he collected the ball from the back of his net, having got his angles wrong, allowing Ince too much of the goal to shoot at, and when he nearly fumbled a free kick, hands shaped the wrong way as with THAT USA goal. He isn't a quick learner is he?
Noble was very disappointing despite clearing the ball off the line and delivering a couple of wonderful corners. Nolan's performance was patchy, over-hitting passes, although his shot against the bar oozed class. Reid did OK. Taylor assisted for the goal but was ordinary otherwise. O'Neil was taken off. Collison was ordinary. Demel was awful. Have I forgotten anybody?
The performance overall was somewhere between ordinary and poor but who cares? You don't have to be great to beat a pub team do you? The trouble is, there aren't many pub teams left in the Prem!
But for now who cares? We are back where we belong and it was great fun doing it via the playoffs. Now the rebuilding begins!
Player Ratings: Green 6, Demel 1, Tomkins 9, Reid 7, Taylor 5; Collison 5, O'Neil 4, Noble 5, Nolan 6, Vaz Te 7; Cole 8 Subs: McCartney 6, Faubert 5