Monday football

Live text commentary as Blackburn are relegated from the Premier League after West Ham reach the Championship play-off final.

7 May 2012 Last updated at 22:50

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As it happened

  1. 2244: 

    Right, it's time for me to call it a night. Thanks for your company, and all your chat... and we will never forget the Ewood Park Chicken, will we? Wigan are staying up, Blackburn are going down, West Ham might be coming up and Cardiff are staying down. Let's do it all again on Tuesday night for Liverpool versus Chelsea, shall we? I'll see you all in a few hours time.


    From optimistic Rovers fan: "We were promised players like Ronaldinho, but ended up getting the Championship. Way to go Venky's! We need a major clear out in the summer and will hopefully come back stronger. I think if we had survived, it would have been more of the same - and a relegation battle next season. Relegation could be a blessing in disguise to try and rebuild and make our club great once again. Sad day but we will be back stronger than ever!"


    Alfie Jones on Twitter: "Where you draw the line between bravery and idiocy? Maybe it's time Steve Kean admits he wasn't good enough and bow out."

  4. 2240: 

    Oh yes, West Ham. Interesting and perhaps ironic to see Sam Allardyce, the man that Steve Kean replaced as Rovers boss in December 2010, today take the Hammers into the Championship play-off final earlier today. Can anyone see Kean being the man to do something similar with Blackburn next season?

  5. 2238: 

    More from Steve Kean, speaking about Blackburn's future: "If we can keep the majority of the squad together and add a little bit of experience then I am confident we can bounce back. What have to do is regroup as West Ham have done. We will be back to fight another day."

  6. 2237: 

    Steve Kean was also speaking about his plans for next season, which will no doubt please those Blackburn fans who are waiting for him outside the ground...

  7. 2236: 

    Blackburn boss Steve Kean, speaking after the home defeat by Wigan which sends Rovers down: "We are devastated. The players are numb. To not take this to the last game of the season is massively disappointing."

    Why have Rovers been relegated? "We always score goals, create chances and make a fist of it in the final third. On the other side of it we have not had enough clean sheets. Against Tottenham we felt as if the effort from the lads was being doubted but I think you could see right up until the final second tonight why I can never fault the players effort."

  8. 2230: 

    The Blackburn fans are still protesting by the way, with a group of them waiting in the rain outside Ewood Park. The Venky's were not at the game so that means Steve Kean is going to get all the abuse. Speaking of which, Kean has just faced the TV cameras.


    Ed, a Liverpool fan: "After watching Wigan completely outclass us at Anfield in March I hoped they'd stay up. To beat Liverpool, Arsenal, Man Utd and Newcastle in a relegation fight is an extraordinary achievement."


    Thomas Watson on Twitter: "This chatter about Wigan about how this narrow escape is the basis to build is ludicrous. Last season, anyone?"


    Matt Blazey on Twitter: "Know how Blackburn feel right now after seeing Newcastle relegated three seasons ago, but it turned us into a top five team!"

  12. 2225: 

    Wigan owner Dave Whelan, speaking about seeing his side stay up and relegating Blackburn: "I am really sorry we put Rovers down. I have mixed feelings a little tonight because I had 11 years at Blackburn [as a player]. We had a tough start to the season but Roberto Martinez always believed and I believed in him. As the season has gone along we have played better and better and Roberto has proved he is a top-quality manager."


    From Fred in Rugby, a passionate Latic: "Wigan deserve nothing less than this, ever since the game at Arsenal they've been nothing but sensational. They can look to the likes of Victor Moses and Al Habsi for their survival this season. Happy times at the DW to come!"

  14. 2219: 

    Wigan captain Gary Caldwell on his side's Premier League survival: "We put ourselves in a precarious position, and as a club we have to be better. We're proved we're good enough to play at this level, but the start of the season wasn't good enough. All credit to everyone at the club for digging in and getting us out of that situation."


    OptaJoe on Twitter: "35 - Blackburn will end the season with under 35 points for the first time since 1978/79 (30). Paltry."

  16. 2216: 

    Blackburn Rovers defender Bradley Orr on boss Steve Kean after Rovers' relegation from the top flight: "He is very down, devastated, but behind the scenes, what people don't see, he has been different class and I am gutted for him. We feel short as a group of players. It is hard to take."

  17. 2214: 

    So, Wolves and now Blackburn have gone. But who will be the third team dropping down to the Championship next season. Realistically, it's between Bolton and QPR because, with one game left, Aston Villa's goal difference is far superior to the two sides below them.

    Bolton need to win at Stoke on Sunday to have any chance of staying up but, if QPR draw at Manchester City, Owen Coyle's side are down. If QPR lose, a Bolton win of any kind will keep them up.

  18. 2210: 

    Wigan boss Roberto Martinez, speaking after his side's win at Blackburn which secures the Latics' status as a Premier League club: "It doesn't seem real yet. Is a great feeling. It was a difficult game, you could feel the tension and it was a cagey affair. But staying up is an incredible achievement."


    From Tom in Blackpool: "Some of the Blackburn fans need to realise that Kean and Venky's aren't solely to blame. It's obvious the off field drama didn't help but too many players in the Blackburn team didn't pull their weight and their lack of commitment has lost them a place in the Premier League."


    Ryan Leister on Twitter: "Well done to Wigan, a team that all season stuck to playing football & eventually played good football to achieve safety."


    From Al, a pretty happy Wigan fan: "Little Wigan, we have no fans, no-one likes us, but we are here to stay, like or lump it! 8 seasons on top here we come!!"


    Paul Bennion on Twitter: "Well done Wigan. Championship footy for Blackburn and major changes to come."


    Reshad Sergeant "Lot of respect for Paul Robinson. Seems to be the only Blackburn player who cares... "

  24. 2157: 

    There are now Blackburn fans on the pitch and heading towards the dug-outs. Steve Kean, wisely, makes a swift exit. Most of the Rovers players have already headed for the dressing room too but Paul Robinson slowly trudges off in the pouring rain, talking to some supporters on his way.

  25. 2154: 
  26. 2154: 
    FULL-TIME- Blackburn 0-1 Wigan
  27. 2153: 

    Wigan, on the other hand, are within 90 seconds or so of sealing their Premier League survival. What an achievement that is by Latics boss Roberto Martinez.

  28. 2151: 

    There will be three minutes of stoppage time at Ewood Park. Blackburn are 1-0 down and almost out of the top flight.

  29. 2150: 

    Blackburn's 11-year stay in the Premier League is almost over and their fans are far from happy. There are objects being thrown on to the pitch and those loud chants of "Kean out" have started again.

  30. 2148: 
    GOAL- Blackburn 0-1 Wigan (Antolin Alcaraz, 87 mins)

    The goal that sends Blackburn down and keeps Wigan up? It looks that way. Antolin Alcaraz rises at the far post to meet a corner and powers his header past Paul Robinson, who got his hand to it but could not keep the ball out.

  31. 2148: 

    Connor Sammon almost gets a chance to make an instant impression too. Victor Moses sends in a bouncing cross from the right but the ball skids off the wet surface and away from the Latics substitute.

  32. 2147: 

    Five minutes of the 90 to go. Time to find out what Blackburn have got in the tank. Before we do, Wigan replace Franco di Santo with Connor Sammon.

  33. 2145: 

    This time it is poor finishing that saves Blackburn. Emmerson Boyce has time and space down the right to pick out a man in the middle and his cross finds Shaun Maloney arriving unmarked in front of goal... but he fails to make proper contact with his header and loops it harmlessly over.

  34. 2144: 

    Paul Robinson has just kept Blackburn in the Premier League, well for another 10 minutes at least. The Rovers keeper does brilliantly to deny Victor Moses after he fires in a snap-shot from the edge of the area after good work down the right by Wigan... and recovers to block follow-ups from James McCarthy and Moses too. A Wigan goal now would finish Blackburn off for good.

  35. 2142: 

    Time for a Blackburn change. It's an attacking one too, and I guess it has to be. David Goodwillie is on for Bradley Orr.

  36. 2142: 

    This is decent pressure by Blackburn but Wigan are getting bodies in the way of every shot and cross. Martin Olsson does manage to whip a low ball in from the left but Ali Al Habsi is down to gather at his near post and Wigan hold out.


    Dunfermline are relegated from the SPL after a heavy 4-0 defeat at Hibs. However, the result guarantees that Hibs will be playing top-flight football in Scotland next season. Paul Hanlon was credited with a late fourth for Hibs but the ball did not cross the line after it had cannoned off the crossbar. It was that kind of night for the Pars, who lost first-half goals to Matt Doherty, Eoin Doyle and Garry O'Connor (penalty).

  38. 2139: 

    Blackburn keeper Paul Robinson hoofs the ball into the Wigan box and Scott Dann is up to meet it. He grapples with Antolin Alcaraz as he does so, though, and referee Mark Clattenburg blows for the foul. Rovers have got 13 minutes to find a goal, and counting.


    Ewood Chicken on Twitter: "Such a fowl! Mark Clattenburg will get fried tomorrow after that scramble in the box. Penalty."

    The Victor Moses one just now? Never. Emmerson Boyce's challenge on Junior Hoilett at 2121 looks worse with every viewing though.

  40. 2133: 
    YELLOW CARD- Wigan's Victor Moses

    Wigan want a penalty when Victor Moses cuts in from the left and goes to ground inside the box under a challenge from Bradley Orr. Is it a spot-kick? Referee Mark Clattenburg says no, and books Moses for diving. Replays suggest the Wigan winger went to ground very easily.

    BBC Radio 5 live's Robbie Savage at Blackburn v Wigan:

    "For me, whether Blackburn stay up or go down, Steve Kean's position is untenable. I do not see how he can carry on. These are not nice scenes at Ewood Park, with the hatred towards him from the crowd."

  42. 2132: 

    Franco di Santo fires in the free-kick but Morten Gamst Pedersen leaps in the wall to block it and deflect it behind. Again, just to remind you, Wigan will effectively make sure of their Premier League survival with a point.

  43. 2130: 

    From Rob in Sussex: This is game is awful, bring back the chicken."


    It's a fourth goal for Hibernian but it's not without controversy. Isaiah Osbourne's cross is met by Paul Hanlon as his thunderous shot rattles the underside of the crossbar but bounces the wrong side of the line. However, the linesman - assistant referee if you prefer - indicates it's a goal. It is now 4-0 to Hibs and Dunfermline are on their way down. You can follow live text commentary of that game, here.

  45. 2129: 
    YELLOW CARD- Blackburn's Morten Gamst Pedersen

    We have got 23 minutes of the 90 to play at Ewood Park, where it is still 0-0. Just to remind you: Blackburn need a win, or they are down.

    It is Wigan who are on the attack at present, though. Morten Gamst Pedersen slides in to stop Shaun Maloney in his tracks right on the edge of the Rovers box and that is a yellow card to the Norwegian and a free-kick to Wigan in a very dangerous area.

  46. 2126: 

    An update on Blackburn defender Gael Givet now, and it is more good news. It turns out he came off at half-time because of a hamstring injury, when there were concerns that it was something far more serious.

  47. 2125: 

    There is action on the pitch too. Blackburn launch the ball forward and Antolin Alcaraz has to stick out a leg to stop Yakubu running through on goal. Good defending by Wigan, in the end.

  48. 2123: 

    Another protest from the Blackburn fans, this time against their owners. All four stands at Ewood Park started singing "we want Venky's out" just after the hour mark.

    BBC Radio 5 live's Robbie Savage at Blackburn v Wigan:

    "That had to be a penalty, I cannot see any other outcome. How has the referee not given a penalty? Emmerson Boyce has booted Junior Hoilett when the striker is about to shoot with his right foot."

  50. 2121: 

    Still no goals but there has been a lot more excitement in the second half. We have just seen a huge goalmouth scramble in the Wigan area and a big appeal for a penalty too. Junior Hoilett tries to burst on to a knock down near the edge of the six-yard box but Emmerson Boyce tangled with him and stopped him getting a shot away. Referee Mark Clattenburg has a good look, but decides not to point to the spot.

  51. 2120: 

    As Sky Sports reported earlier, there were concerns over Gael Givet's health at half-time so it is a good sign that the Blackburn defender has just emerged to take his place on the Rovers bench.

  52. 2118: 

    The chances keep coming, and this time it is Wigan who see a decent opening go to waste. Franco di Santo does well to bring down a looping cross from the left but his shot from near the penalty spot is a disappointing one, soaring high over the bar.

    BBC Radio 5 live's Robbie Savage at Blackburn v Wigan:

    "Blackburn have started the second half better, but it has been a bit scrappy from both teams. Wigan look a little bit frustrated. Having said that, there is still a lack of conviction from Rovers."

  54. 2118: 

    Blackburn's best effort of the night follows soon afterwards. Scott Dann leaps to meet a corner at the far post and nod the ball back across goal for Yakubu to throw himself at it and power a volley goalwards. Wigan survive, though, because Jean Beausejour is in the right place on the line to clear. I'm not sure Ali Al Habsi would have kept that out, either.

    That was Rovers' first shot on target for two hours and 22 minutes, which sort of sums up what they have been like in front of goal in their last few games, not just tonight.

  55. 2114: 

    Another sight of goal for Wigan, as the ball drops for James McCarthy inside the Blackburn area but he skews his first-time shot well wide of goal.

  56. 2114: 

    It's still raining at Ewood Park as Wigan come forward for the first time since the change of ends. Shaun Maloney tries to slide James McCarthy clear down the right, but over-hits his pass and McCarthy does very well to reach the ball and send over a cross. Blackburn clear it easily.


    Under 25 minutes to go until full-time and Dunfermline have been unable to make a dent in Hibs' 3-0 lead. Scottish Cup finalists Hibs are spraying the ball around with confidence, First Division-bound Dunfermline look dejected. You can follow live text commentary of that game, here.

  58. 2111: 

    Blackburn have started this half with a lot more intent than they managed in most of the first 45 minutes but Morten Gamst Pedersen's deliveries tonight have been very disappointing and he does not improve on them here, sending over a poor corner.

  59. 2108: 

    We have just had another pitch invader. A human this time, rather than a chicken. He tried to get to the Rovers dug-out but was quickly whisked away.

  60. 2106: 

    Blackburn are making a change at the break. Radosav Petrovic is on for Gael Givet. Sky Sports are reporting there was some concern over Givet's health at half-time but they have also reported that they have heard from the Ewood Park medical room and that he is OK.

  61. 2105: 

    The players are coming out now, and I will let you know the reason for that delay when I get it.

  62. 2104: 

    Some confusion in the tunnel as the players get ready to go out for the second half, and there is going to be a delay before we resume.

    Blackburn defender Bradley Orr stayed out on the pitch during the break to warm up, and he is the only player out there at present.

  63. 2058: 

    So, what are we expecting in the second half? Goals? Chances? ... or more chickens?


    From Mike, already grieving Rovers fan: "Re 2022. We will always support our club. However the team have been terrible this season, largely due to bad judgement from the Venky's and a clueless manager. No football fan would cheer players who consistently underperformed. We have to attempt to make the owners take notice, but they don't care."


    From unhappy Blackburn fan: "Re 2022. To the 'neutrals': is your club run by people who know nothing about football? Does your manager have the worst Premier League record ever and is unsackable? No? When you do, let us know how it feels."


    From Ruth at Ewood: "Re 2022. How would non-Blackburn fans react to being lied to and seeing their club being turned into a joke. Am personally not one of the chanters but it's soul destroying to see what has happened to us. Put yourselves in our shoes before judging."


    Atlanta Gunner on Twitter: "Do Blackburn know they have to win this game?"

    HALF-TIME- Blackburn 0-0 Wigan

    Phil Dawkes reports: "Blackburn's Premier League status remains in the balance. If Rovers are to get the win they need they will need to show more up front. As it stands, Wigan are looking good for claiming at least the point they need to secure their top-flight status at the home side's expense."

    BBC Radio 5 live's Robbie Savage at Blackburn v Wigan:

    "Wigan have been totally dominant and created lots of chances but their final ball has been poor. Blackburn are struggling to cope with Jean Beausejour and Emmerson Boyce. Wigan will feel aggrieved they are not ahead."

  70. 2048: 
    HALF-TIME- Blackburn 0-0 Wigan

    Boos greet the half-time whistle at Ewood Park as Blackburn boss Steve Kean strides down the tunnel towards the dressing room. But will it be the last time he makes that particular trip?

  71. 2048: 

    Another promsing Wigan attack sees James McArthur round off a neat move by sending in a low cross for Victor Moses, who shapes to shoot but is blocked off by Gael Givet at the crucial moment. Chance gone.

  72. 2046: 

    Blackburn midfielder David Dunn has picked up a knock and cannot continue. Marcus Olsson is coming on instead, to join his twin brother Martin. There will be two minutes of stoppage time at Ewood Park, which is about as long as it took to catch that chicken earlier.

  73. 2044: 

    About two minutes to go until half-time at Ewood Park. Not much goalmouth action to speak of so far, apart from that chicken of course.

  74. 2043: 

    News now from elsewhere in sport. Ronnie O'Sullivan has clinched his fourth snooker world title at the Crucible in Sheffield, defeating Ali Carter 18-11. I once played football against O'Sullivan at Leyton Orient's Brisbane Road ground - he was bloomin' good at that too, without even trying.

  75. 2040: 

    Blackburn have another free-kick, after Junior Hoilett is fouled while crossing from the right byline. Can Morten Gamst Pedersen do any better with this one? Erm, how big a 'no' do you want? Pedersen blasts the ball high across the face of goal and straight out of play.


    Dunfermline are on their way down and out of the SPL after a disastrous first half at Easter Road. Needing to win to stand any chance of staying up, the Pars were three down within 15 minutes as headers from Matt Doherty and Eoin Doyle and a penalty from Garry O'Connor put Hibernian on easy street. The Scottish Cup finalists are well on their way to securing survival. You can follow live text commentary of that game, here.

    BBC Radio 5 live's Robbie Savage at Blackburn v Wigan:

    "You can see how much this match matters to David Dunn, who is a Blackburn lad. His desire and attitude is fantastic and a few of his team-mates could take a leaf out of his book."

  78. 2036: 

    Oh so close to an opener for Wigan. Franco di Santo delivers a peach of a cross from the right that finds Victor Moses running in at the far post but Moses, under pressure from Paul Robinson, cannot convert - and in fact nods away from goal. A real waste of a delicious delivery.


    From Sid: "Re 2022. You have to feel sorry for the Blackburn fans because they aren't happy with the way the club is being run but they haven't exactly helped matters at home games with the hostile atmosphere."


    Liam from Ipswich: "Re. 2022. In a situation like this you must support your team, through thick and thin."

  81. 2034: 

    A big sniff for Wigan, but the chance goes begging. A deep Shaun Maloney free-kick is headed back across goal by Franco di Santo and the ball is bouncing straight towards Victor Moses, six yards out and unmarked, until his team-mate Gary Caldwell sticks out a toe and diverts it to safety.


    From Chris at Ewood Park: "Re 2022. Question to non Blackburn fans. If what has happened to our club had happened to yours, would you remain quiet?"

  83. 2030: 

    It is tipping down at Ewood Park but it definitely isn't raining chances for Blackburn. Morten Gamst Pedersen steps up to fire in a free-kick from 30 yards but he lifts his shot horribly high and into Row Z. Half an hour gone, and it remains 0-0.


    Blackburn Rooster on Twitter: "Cluck cluck come on Blackburn if I can get in their area for more than 5 seconds I'm sure you can!"

    Anfield Cat and Loftus Road Squirrel have a new member of their gang, I think.


    Darren H on Twitter: "Re 2022. Get behind your team - chant against any player/manager once the game is over or unlikely to be won."

  86. 2024: 

    The Blackburn fans almost have something else to complain about. It looks like Scott Dann is going to usher Victor Moses into touch down by the corner flag but the Wigan winger drops a shoulder and dances past him, before smashing his shot straight at Paul Robinson from a tight angle.

  87. 2022: 

    Here's a question for non-Blackburn fans. If your side were playing in a game they had to win to stay in the Premier League, would you spend your time chanting for your unpopular manager to be sacked, or would you be yelling support for your players?

  88. 2021: 

    The Rovers fans have been making a right racket all game - shouting 'Kean Out' for most of it. I think he gets the message by now, surely?

  89. 2020: 

    Just over 20 minutes gone at Ewood Park. This is a must-win game for Blackburn but they are not looking much like winning it. David Dunn has just had another shot from distance for Rovers, but he blasted it about 10 miles over.

  90. 2019: 

    Junior Hoilett cuts inside from the left... and we know he likes to have a pop from outside the area. Not this time, though, because he runs into trouble and is crowded out before he can let fly.


    From Max: "The question is... did the chicken cross the line? Do we need to go to a video replay or did the linesman have a clear view? Controversy!"

  92. 2016: 

    Wigan's pretty passing patterns are causing Blackburn plenty of problems. Their latest move ends with a cross that finds Franco di Santo in space at the back post but, under pressure, he blasts his first-time shot over.


    Matt Flynn on Twitter: "'Cracking' save from Al-Habsi, kept hold of that chicken. Could have had egg on his face there!"


    Richard J Moir on Twitter: "A chicken causing more problems in Wigan's penalty area than Blackburn probably will."

  95. 2012: 

    Rovers respond with their first shot of the night. After a near build-up, Anthony Modeste lets fly with a rasping effort from 25 yards that fizzes over the Wigan bar.

  96. 2011: 

    The chicken departs the pitch and Wigan launch their best attack yet, with Franco di Santo running through on goal. He tries to place his shot past Paul Robinson but doesn't get it quite right and the Rovers keeper claws it behind.

    BBC Radio 5 live's Robbie Savage at Blackburn v Wigan:

    "To be fair I used to be a headless chicken when I played for Blackburn, running around everywhere. Chicken stopped play - hilarious."

  98. 2008: 

    Yes, I know there will be cries of fowl play but this match is back under way. The chicken was cornered by Ali Al Habsi and Yakubu and the Wigan keeper eventually caught it in his goal net before it was carried off by a steward... hopefully it won't end up as his tea.

  99. 2007: 

    No, I'm not making this up. The chicken is running around Ali Al Habsi's penalty area, evading Yakubu's attempts to catch it. I don't think our feathered friend is a fan of the Venky's, do you?

  100. 2006: 

    There is a chicken, draped in a Blackburn Rovers flag, on the Ewood Park pitch.

    BBC Radio 5 live's Robbie Savage at Blackburn v Wigan:

    "Looking at Blackburn's back four, it is going to be a tremendously hard night for them. I do not think Rovers' 4-4-2 formation will work against Wigan's 3-4-3. All Wigan have to do is keep working the ball out wide."

  102. 2006: 

    Action at both ends, without any end product. First, Morten Gamst Pedersen tries to clip a ball over the Wigan defence for Junior Hoilett but the ball runs straight through to Ali Al Habsi.

    The Latics break forward and, after David Dunn cleans out Shaun Maloney, referee Mark Clattenburg plays an advantage to allow Victor Moses a shot on goal. Sadly for Wigan, he blazes it a long way off target.


    It just gets worse for Dunfermline as Austin MCann is penalised for grappling with Paul Hanlon in the box and Garry O'Connor converts the spot-kick to put Hibernian 3-0 ahead. You can follow live text commentary of that game, here.

  104. 2002: 

    It was Anthony Modeste who picked up the loose pass for Blackburn but he could not make the most of it. Neither side can keep possession at the moment, let alone fashion a chance.

  105. 2001: 
    KICK-OFF- Blackburn v Wigan (2000 BST)

    Wigan get us under way, and give the ball away straight from kick-off.


    It just gets better for Hibernian and worse for the Pars as Eoin Doyle heads home from Matt Doherty's cross. Dunfermline now need to score at least three times in less than 80 minutes to stay up. You can follow live text commentary of that game, here.


    From Wigan fan Ben Rigby on Twitter: "Another big performance from the big Scot Gary Caldwell needed tonight. Been incredible second half of the season."


    Xav Labat on Twitter: Huge Rovers fan but this season has been a joke, and am prepared to go down. Need to keep the key players and rebuild now.

  109. 1957: 

    Five minutes to go until we get started at Ewood Park. The players are in the tunnel... and, courtesy of Andy on Twitter, I have pictorial evidence of the Burnley plane and banner. It reads "In Venkys we trust - Burnley SU".


    Hibernian get off to the perfect start at Easter Road as a Tom Soares free-kick is helped on by the head of James McPake and Matt Doherty dives in to nod the ball in off the post. Dunfermline have it all to do now if they are to avoid relegation. You can follow live text commentary of that game, here.

  111. 1951: 

    Some news just in from Bolton, and it's not good at all from David Wheater's point of view. The club have announced that the 25-year-old defender is expected to be out for nine months after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during Sunday's 2-2 draw with West Brom.


    Jarislief on Twitter: "Plane just gone over Ewood, "In Venky's we trust" Burnley fans praying for Wigan win!"

    Hmmmm. How many planes/banners have these Burnley fans got!? Again, I've still not seen any actual visual evidence of any... yet!


    From Andy: "Re 1938. I live in Preston and have just looked out the window to see a plane flying over with a big banner behind it saying 'in Keane we trust - Burnley FC'. My missus is a Burnley fan and is ecstatic!!!! Come on Wigan!"

    I hasten to add that this is an unconfirmed report. Has anyone else in Preston spotted this plane?


    Robert Woods on Twitter: "As a Blackburn fan I am not nervous. I've known for a few weeks now that we're going down, nothing can stop that now."

  115. 1942: 

    Blackburn boss Steve Kean, asked how his team was approaching tonight's game:

    "We're approaching it in a manner where it is very clear what we have to do. Starting with tonight, it is two games we have to win. We have to get out the blocks and get at Wigan who are in good form. We need improved service to what we gave the front men at Tottenham. We've been working on that all week.

    "I think we've got experience in this now. We look back to last year when we took it the last day and came through it. We've had a long week, which has helped us to prepare. The players look sharp and confident.

    "We've looked back to the Norwich game when I thought it was our responsibility to give the fans something to cheer about. We were very good then and we need to do the same tonight."

  116. 1938: 

    In 1991, Blackburn fans arranged for a plane to fly over Turf Moor carrying the message "staying down forever" to taunt Burnley fans whose side were losing a play-off in the old Fourth Division.

    I'm hearing lots of rumours that the Clarets are planning to get their revenge tonight... so, if you are in the Ewood Park area, please keep an eye out for any low-flying aircraft carrying a nasty banner - and tell me what is written on it!

  117. 1937: 

    Kick-off at Ewood Park is about 25 minutes away. Are you Rovers fans feeling nervous yet? Blackburn might know by the end of the night whether they are playing Championship football next season. I bet a few of their supporters looked at the fixture list a couple of months ago and were quite pleased they still had to play Wigan at home. But a lot has changed in the last few weeks, especially the Latics' form.

  118. 1932: 

    Wigan boss Roberto Martinez, speaking before kick-off at Ewood Park: "It is another important game. We've been in really good form but it will be a difficult game. You can imagine every point will be fought for. We know Blackburn will throw everything at us.

    "We can't play any other way than going for the win. We don't look at the result, we look at the game and we need to be as good as we can. Blackburn can create good opportunities from different ways and our concentration needs to be good. We need to be ourselves and reproduce the performances from the last few weeks."


    Dom Diego Stirling on Twitter: "Since the moment Sam Allardyce was sacked and Steve Kean appointed, this night has been coming #VenkysOut #BRFC #KeanOut "


    Tom Castle on Twitter: "Based on form, Wigan cruise easily. But this season hasn't followed the script. Rovers to win and keep their slim hope alive."


    OptaJoe on Twitter: "15 - Only Man City and Fulham (16) have picked up more points from their last seven PL games than Wigan (Blackburn fewest - 3). Survivalism."

  122. 1927: 
    Blackburn v Wigan (2000 BST)

    Blackburn make two changes from the side which lost 2-0 at Tottenham last time out as they go in search of the win they need. Anthony Modeste comes in for Mauro Formica, while Martin Olsson replaces his brother Marcus.

    Wigan are unchanged from the side which hammered Newcastle 4-0 at the DW Stadium nine days ago.

    BBC Radio 5 live's Robbie Savage at Blackburn v Wigan:

    "I think Wigan have been fantastic recently. The performances with their 4-3-3 formation have been a breath of fresh air. Their performance at Arsenal, the way they passed the ball, was a joy to watch. I think Roberto Martinez has done an exceptional job."

    LINE-UPS- Blackburn v Wigan (2000 BST)

    Blackburn: Robinson, Orr, Dann, Givet, Martin Olsson, Hoilett, Dunn, Lowe, Pedersen, Modeste, Yakubu. Subs: Kean, Formica, Petrovic, Nzonzi, Rochina, Marcus Olsson, Goodwillie.

    Wigan: Al Habsi, Alcaraz, Caldwell, Figueroa, Boyce, McArthur, McCarthy, Beausejour, Moses, Di Santo, Maloney. Subs: Pollitt, Crusat, Ben Watson, Gomez, Sammon, Rodallega, Diame.

    Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

  125. 1917: 

    There is a big relegation battle in the Scottish Premier League tonight too. There is a crunch encounter between hosts Hibernian and Dunfermline at Easter Road (1945 BST KO) with the latter having to win to avoid relegation from the SPL.

    A five-point gap exists between the bottom club and Hibs, and a draw or win for the Edinburgh side will guarantee their safety before next weekend's final league fixtures take place.

    There is hope for Dunfermline as they won at this ground earlier in the season and Hibs have only one once in their own backyard on league duty this term. You can follow live text commentary of that game, here.

    Blackburn v Wigan (2000 BST)

    Phil Dawkes reports: Wigan manager Roberto Martinez says that his side's points tally, not their position in the table was always his barometer for success this season, despite the Latics spending long periods of the campaign in the relegation zone.

    "I never looked at the position in the table. I always believed that the points tally was what we had to fight for," Martinez said. "Thirty-seven points for us at this stage of the season is an incredible achievement and a fantastic position to be in, but we haven't done anything yet. We need to be in a position to achieve our aim and then we can look back."


    Barney in Twickenham: "Blackburn & Bolton both came up with us to the Premiership in 2001 Being a Fulham fan seeing us all stay up there for so long has been great. I so hope Blackburn and indeed Bolton can pull it off."


    Benny Moies on Twitter: "So Blackburn's owners won't be in tonight.. I'm not blaming them... "


    Ed Hewings on Twitter: "Apparently Blackburn's owners won't be at Ewood Park tonight. Battling relegation and final home game, its shocking ownership."

  130. 1910: 

    Ian Dennis, who is at Ewood Park for BBC Radio 5 live, has been told that Blackburn's owners, the Venky's, will not be at tonight's game. I'm not sure why they have decided to stay away, but could it be they are a bit chicken?

    Blackburn v Wigan (2000 BST)

    Phil Dawkes reports: The situation is simple for Blackburn Rovers: win or they will be relegated. It is clear to see why Rovers are in such dire straits. Six defeats in their last seven matches, during a period when some of their rivals were picking up points has eroded what was once a six-point gap between them and the drop zone.

    The most impressive of those rivals can put the final nail in Rovers top-flight coffin tonight. Five wins in seven make Wigan one of the top flight's form teams. Another win here will secure their safety and allow them a rare opportunity to enjoy a pressure-free game next Sunday.

  132. 1905: 

    Right then, We've had play-off wins for West Ham, Luton and York so far today, but now it is time to switch our attention to the bottom of the Premier League.

    The Hammers are happy, and so are the Hatters (although not with me). The Minstermen are made up too but Blackburn fans could be feeling a lot less cheerful later on this evening.

    Anything less than a win against Wigan and they are out of the top flight for the first time since 2001. If the Latics get a point, they are effectively safe - so all to play for.

  133. 1900: 

    West Ham boss Sam Allardyce on his side's win over Cardiff to reach the Championship play-off final: "The response at Cardiff and this performance were terrific. I'm pleased for everybody concerned with West Ham United.

    "We have a huge opportunity to get into the golden league, not for the money from my point of view but because that is where it all happens.

    And on the final itself: "It is big pressure for us. Whoever we get, whether it is Birmingham or Blackpool, we are probably going to be favourites and we have to live with that. Hopefully the players can look forward to it and deliver another outstanding performance."

  134. 1856: 

    Oh dear. If Twitter was 'real' there would be hordes of angry Luton fans outside my window shouting "2009 Football League Trophy!" at me. And probably throwing rotten fruit in my direction too.


    Luton fan with a much better knowledge of the Hatters' Wembley wins than me: "Re 1842. The last time Luton won at Wembley was not 1988. Wrong - we beat Scunthorpe in the Football League Trophy!"

    Apologies to all you Luton fans out there... I've done you an injustice. Luton did indeed win the Football League Trophy in 2009. I don't remember that game as well as the '88 League Cup final, though. Sorry.


    From Alex in Stratford: "I'm going to be the grumpiest Welshman in east London today as I'm just starting my shift at a big West Ham pub. Think we're even open late for the 'celebration'. Hmph."

  137. 1842: 

    That Blue Square Bet Conference Premier play-off final between York and Luton is at Wembley on Sunday 20 May.

    By the way, the last time (that I remember!) Luton winning at Wembley was in April 1988, when Brian Stein grabbed a couple of goals, Andy Dibble saved a penalty and the Hatters shocked Arsenal to beat them 3-2 and win the League Cup final.

    Heady days indeed, and I seem to recall Luton had a great kit back then too? White shirt, black shorts, 'Bedford Trucks' written on the front (other trucks are available) and with a flash of orange too... I can picture Ricky Hill wearing it now.

  138. 1839: 

    West Ham midfielder Mark Noble, speaking after his side easily saw off Cardiff to set up a Championship play-off final clash with Birmingham or Blackpool:

    "We showed how much it means to us today.

    "We've kept two clean sheets, scored goals and dominated the games. The support here today was fantastic and we need to carry our form into Wembley. We deserve to be going to Wembley after these two games."


    Rory Millar on Twitter: "West Ham's superiority shining through in these last two games. Birmingham or Blackpool will have their work cut out at Wembley."


    Paul from Warrington: "The guy who turns on the bubble machine should get Rob Green's wages today!! He worked harder!!!"

  141. 1835: 

    It's all over at the Racecourse. Luton have held on and they are going to Wembley, where they will meet York in the Blue Square Bet Conference Premier play-off final. Wrexham, who finished 17 points above them with a total of 98 points, miss out on a return to the Football League. FT: Wrexham 2-1 Luton (2-3 agg)

  142. 1832: 

    Handbags on the pitch, and on the touchline at the Racecourse as Luton's Amari Morgan-Smith lashes out after being accused of feigning injury to waste time. We are into the 97th minute, and there was only meant to be five minutes of stoppage time. It is still Wrexham 2-1 Luton (2-3 Agg).


    OptaJoe on Twitter: "4 - Cardiff are only the second side to fail to score in four consecutive 2nd tier play-off matches (after Reading last year). Blanks."

  145. 1827: 

    West Ham captain Kevin Nolan, speaking after his side's 5-0 aggregate win over Cardiff to reach the Championship play-off final: "Winning 2-0 away was always a good platform but we knew we needed to do the business here. The goal settled us. Cardiff can't complain with the result over the two legs.

    "Over the last six or seven weeks we've been great. What we've managed to do over the last few weeks is score goals."


    Cardiff fan Huw, on the way back from Aberystwyth town v Airbus UK Broughton: "Despite yet another play-off failure, I'm still immensely proud of to be a Bluebird this season. No manager, no squad, in the summer and I was expecting mid table at best. So, so proud of this team."


    Jordan on Twitter: "As a Cardiff fan, well done to West Ham, outplayed us in both legs, and cannot see anyone but them winning the play-off final."

    BBC Sport's Mark Bright at West Ham v Cardiff:

    "I think West Ham have got a strong belief in themselves. They have proven players in most positions and promotion remains their goal. They are looking good at the moment."

  149. 1822: 

    Smiles and high-fives aplenty on the Upton Park pitch and, yes, the bubbles are out in force again.

    After a completely one-sided Championship play-off semi-final win, West Ham are going to Wembley for the first time since they played Liverpool 1981 League Cup final. They will face Birmingham or Blackpool on 19 May.

  150. 1821: 
    FULL-TIME- West Ham 3-0 Cardiff (5-0 agg)
  151. 1819: 
    GOAL- West Ham 3-0 Cardiff - Nicky Maynard (90 mins, 5-0 agg)

    The bloke who has to turn on the bubble machine at Upton Park is working overtime today. There will be more celebrations at the final whistle but, before then, Nicky Maynard has got in on the goal action, running on to Henri Lansbury's precise pass and smashing an unstoppable shot past David Marshall. Cue more bubbles.


    From Lee Smith: "Claridge was rubbish when I played against him for Bishops Cleeve v Gosport Borough in a league game a few months back, but has obviously rose to the big occasion. Class is permanent. Claridge for England."

  153. 1818: 

    Another goal at the Racecourse to tell you about and, with about eight minutes left, Wrexham have set things up for a grandstand finish. Player-manager Andy Morrell has pulled another goal back for the Dragons against Luton, scoring with his second attempt. Wrexham 2-1 Luton (2-3 Agg)

  154. 1815: 

    West Ham are making their third and final change. Carlton Cole is going off and Nicky Maynard is on for the last five minutes. The Hammers lead 2-0 on the day, 4-0 on aggregate... and they are heading for the Championship play-off final at Wembley.

  155. 1815: 

    No, still no joy for Cardiff. After Darcy Blake comes on for Kevin McNaughton, the visitors work the ball forward and tee Liam Lawrence up for a shot which he drags wide of Rob Green's goal.

  156. 1811: 

    Hammers legend Sir Trevor Brooking has been sat next to comedian, actor, and West Ham fan Russell Brand at Upton Park today. If he is superstitious, he will want Brand next to him at Wembley too because their team have been completely dominant.

    In the space of a few seconds, the Hammers went close to a third goal three times, with Matthew Taylor, Winston Reid and Carlton Cole all going close. Cardiff? They are no closer to that consolation, I'm afraid.

  157. 1804: 

    Another painful blow for a West Ham player, following Jack Collison's popping shoulder from earlier. This time Gary O'Neil's nose seems to explode when he gets a ball full into his face, but he is able to smile after being patched up, and is also able to continue.

    While he was receiving treatment, Cardiff made a double change. Filip Kiss and Don Cowie are on for Stephen McPhail and Kenny Miller.

  158. 1804: 

    At last, some good news for a Welsh side today, although Wrexham will need a lot more of it if they are going to turn around their Blue Square Bet Conference Premier play-off semi-final with Luton.

    The Dragons have pulled a goal back at the Racecourse to set up an exciting final half hour. There's some confusion as to who scored but the goal has been credited to Dragons forward Adrian Cieslewicz. That makes it 1-1 on the day and Luton lead 3-1 on aggregate. Andy Morrell's side need two further goals to force extra-time.

  159. 1802: 

    We have less than 20 minutes left now and this has turned into a stroll in the park for the Hammers. Cardiff have run out of steam, and ideas. They probably want this game - and season - to be over with as quickly as possible.

    BBC Sport's Mark Bright at West Ham v Cardiff:

    "Cardiff have not applied enough pressure to the West Ham back four, there has been no consistency in their passing and it has been a poor overall performance from the Bluebirds. A letdown really."

  161. 1759: 

    Kevin Nolan has got a big ice pack on his left knee as he sits in the dug-out after coming off. He has got just under two weeks to get ready for the final, against Birmingham or Blackpool, at Wembley on Saturday 19 May.

  162. 1757: 

    Another change for the Hammers, with Kevin Nolan - who got the show started with the opening goal of the game - coming off to a standing ovation to be replaced by George McCartney.

    Just before then, Hammers defender Winston Reid was booked for a foul on Liam Lawrence. That was his side's first yellow card of the day.


    Alec Johnson on Twitter: "Is Rob Green expecting to get paid for today?"

  164. 1754: 

    Kenny Miller has a pop from distance. That's Cardiff's first effort on goal in this half, and it isn't exactly a good one.

  165. 1752: 

    Less than half an hour left at Upton Park but this game is effectively done and dusted. West Ham look supremely comfortable and Cardiff are getting no reward for their industry.

    The one consolation for the travelling Bluebirds fans is that it has turned into a sunny afternoon in the capital. There has been no other reason for them to enjoy themselves.

  166. 1751: 

    Time for us to venture into non-league again, and go a bit further down the pyramid than the Blue Square Bet Conference Premier too. As a regular pundit on The Football League Show, Steve Claridge would usually be a spectator at Upton Park today but instead he has dusted off those boots of his again at the ripe old age of 46.

    Claridge played today for Gosport Borough against Poole Town in the Southern League Division One South & West play-off final - Poole were 1-0 up at half-time but Claridge equalised in the 91st minute and scored again in extra time.

    Gosport went on to win 3-1. Claridge for England? Maybe it's not too late for him to make the Euro 2012 squad with contributions like that.

  167. 1748: 

    Cardiff are enjoying plenty of possession at present but they are still not creating chances. Hammers keeper Rob Green has hardly touched the ball all afternoon.

    BBC Sport's Mark Bright at West Ham v Cardiff:

    "Cardiff have been a lot better in this half. Maybe if they had started the game like they have been playing since the break it would have been a different story."

  169. 1746: 

    Some news on Jack Collison, courtesy of Sky Sport's touchline reporter - and it sounds promising in terms of his hopes of making the play-off final (should the Hammers make it of course). The Wales midfielder had dislocated his shoulder, which is why he came off, but it popped back into place by itself.

    He is on his way to hospital, but only as a precaution. Still worthy of an 'ouch' graphic, though, surely?

  170. 1742: 

    A consolation for Cardiff? Not this time. They earn a free-kick out on the right when Kevin McNaughton is fouled. Peter Whittingham whips it in - and it is a decent delivery too - but the Hammers have men back to stop Kenny Miller getting on the end of it, and the resulting corner is hacked clear too.

  171. 1741: 
    YELLOW CARD- Cardiff's Mark Hudson

    Another injury for West Ham to worry about, when Mark Hudson lunges in on Ricardo Vaz Te far out on the left and near the halfway line. Vaz Te is rolling around so much, he is almost in the stands by the time referee Mike Dean gets over to see how he is - and book Hudson too. Vaz Te is fine to carry on by the way.


    Garreth Hawkins on Twitter: "I think there's only one team going to be scoring 4 goals in this game and it isn't Cardiff..."


    From Paula in Cardiff: "Just a step too far this year for the Bluebirds. Considering where we were at the beginning of the season - no manager, hardly any players - Malky and the boys have done well to be in the Play-offs at all. Roll the sleeves up ready for next season!"

  174. 1737: 

    Nope, Jack Collison cannot carry on. The Welsh international midfielder has had more than his fair share of injuries in recent years so hopefully this not a serious one. Henri Lansbury is on instead.

  175. 1736: 

    A bit of concern for West Ham, as Jack Collison has injured his shoulder in a challenge by the corner flag. I'm not sure whether he can continue.

  176. 1734: 

    West Ham get us back under way, and they are 45 minutes away from Wembley. Cardiff fans will be hoping that Bluebirds Malky Mackay gave his side one heck of a team-talk - he needs to have said something pretty epic as inspiration to turn this tie round.


    From Bluebirds fan Jon Fitzpatrick: "Cardiff have been running on empty, with a small, tired squad, since their heroics at Wembley in the Carling Cup final. The Hammers are too physical & streetwise for them at this stage of their development as a young team. We need Filip Kiss in midfield to add some bite & to counter West Ham's strength in that area of the field."


    Thomas Cairns on Twitter: "Cardiff fans, never say never. Remember Arsenal and Newcastle?"

    I think Thomas is referring to Newcastle's fightback from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 with Arsenal last year.The Magpies scored four second-half goals in that game, which is exactly what the Bluebirds need here. Does anyone honestly think that is going to happen again here, though?

  179. 1727: 

    I'm just watching that early Cardiff penalty appeal again. You can see why Kenny Miller felt he was fouled, because he was. Winston Reid sticks out a leg to try and shield the ball and he definitely clips the Bluebirds striker. Let's be honest, though, there has not been too much else for the visitors to get excited about.


    From Simon: "Congratulations to Cardiff on another successful campaign in their annual battle against promotion."


    Matthew Day on Twitter: "Forget the Championship playoff, York City are going to Wembley twice for the FA Trophy and the Conference play-off final!!!!!!"

    HALF-TIME- West Ham 2-0 Cardiff (4-0 agg)

    Phil Dawkes reports: "West Ham are home and dry. Two goals to add to the two from the first leg means they can start thinking about Wembley. The Hammers can enjoy the next half. For Cardiff it could be a torturous 45 minutes."

    BBC Sport's Mark Bright at West Ham v Cardiff:

    "The opening half could not have gone any worse for Cardiff and their manager Malky Mackay. I do not think I can make a case for them getting back into the game."


    Luke Russell on Twitter: "West Ham kept a lot of their key players when they went down and secured a good manager. Their experience could get them back up."

  185. 1719: 
    HALF-TIME- West Ham 2-0 Cardiff (4-0 agg)
  186. 1718: 

    There will be two minutes of stoppage time at the end of the first half, and we have had about 30 seconds of it. Cardiff are still trying, to give them credit, but every time they push men forward they are going to leave themselves awfully vulnerable at the back.


    Jad Hamizan on Twitter: "Considering the exodus of last summer, Cardiff has done quite well this season. Overachieved, in fact."

    BBC Sport's Mark Bright at West Ham v Cardiff:

    "It is really poor play from Cardiff but that was a fantastic strike from Ricardo Vaz Te. Cardiff are now looking for leaders on the pitch, something to come from within, but they have not kept the ball or been tight enough at the back."

  189. 1716: 

    That was Ricardo Vaz Te's 11th goal since joining from Barnsley in January, and his 23rd in total this season. He wants more too, recovering from a painful-looking injury (in a very tender place) to get up and run at the Cardiff defence again. The attack ends when Carlton Cole meets a cross at the far post but he cannot trouble David Marshall with his header.

  190. 1711: 
    GOAL- West Ham 2-0 Cardiff - Ricardo Vaz Te (40 mins, 4-0 agg)

    Er, in answer to my last question - no, it's not too early at all. Ricardo Vaz Te runs on to a bouncing ball near the right-hand corner of the box, makes the most of some poor defending and rifles a shot past the helpless David Marshall. The Hammers fans are singing "we're going to Wembley" and it looks very much like they are right.

  191. 1709: 

    Curse or no curse, Cardiff are being hustled and harried out of this game. West Ham are giving them no time on the ball whatsoever and are dominating in midfield right now. The Hammers are spraying the ball around too, and the home fans have already started on the "ole's" with every successful pass. Might it be a little bit early for that?


    Philippa Sims on Twitter: "I don't know how Cardiff manage it. They are cursed."


    James Hunter on Twitter: "Come on Allardyce and West Ham! I'm a Swindon fan who's praying that Di Canio isn't poached in the summer."

  194. 1706: 

    There are 10 minutes left until the break and Cardiff have a corner, their first of the game. Can they make it count? Erm, no. As soon as it is played in, referee Mike Dean blows his whistle for a foul in the middle and West Ham have a free-kick.

  195. 1706: 

    Another Hammers goal would finish Cardiff off and the home side almost get it here.

    Ricardo Vaz Te tees up Gary O'Neil on the edge of the box, and he lets fly with a curling shot that is heading for the top corner until David Marshall gets across to claw it to safety. A great save.

  196. 1704: 

    That second Blue Square Bet Conference Premier is now under way, with Wrexham and Luton bidding to joing York in the Wembley final, with a Football League place the ultimate prize.

    At the moment it is looking like it will be the Hatters who reach the final - following Mark Creighton's clumsy challenge on Alex Lawless, George Pilkington scores from the spot to give Luton the lead against the run of play at the Racecourse. Town now lead 3-0 on aggregate.

  197. 1659: 
    YELLOW CARD- Cardiff's Kenny Miller

    Kenny Miller becomes the first player into referee's Mike Dean's book, for dissent I think. Meanwhile, West Ham are still pouring forward and have forced another corner after quick-fire attack down the right.

    Matty Taylor takes this one too, but his delivery is a big disappointment compared to the one which led to his side's goal. Cardiff can clear, and think about putting Rob Green under pressure at the other end. There hasn't been anywhere near enough of that so far from the Welsh side's point of view.


    Big RobT on Twitter: How many chances do Cardiff want to get promotion?

  199. 1654: 

    Not quite so close this time by West Ham. Ricardo Vaz Te looks up about 30 yards from goal but his snap-shot is about 10 miles wide and the same distance over.

  200. 1652: 

    West Ham are definitely causing Cardiff some problems with their passes up to Carlton Cole. At the other end, the Bluebirds' attempts to find Kenny Miller are currently nowhere near as effective.

    Just over 20 minutes gone, and West Ham will be very happy with the way things have gone so far.


    The Coin Toss on Twitter: "The amount West Ham have spent, they simply cannot afford to not get promoted. Risky strategy, high reward?"


    From Al: "Cardiff are the Championship version of Arsenal - always bottle it when it matters."

  203. 1648: 

    Almost a spectacular second goal for the Hammers. Jack Collison lofts the ball into the Cardiff box and Gary O'Neil swivels to clip a delicious volley goalwards. It beats David Marshall but bounces back off the top of the Bluebirds bar.

    BBC Sport's Mark Bright at West Ham v Cardiff:

    "The ball was not dealt with at the near post. There was confusion in the penalty area. It is probably the easiest goal that Kevin Nolan has scored all season. Now Cardiff will really have to take chances."

  205. 1646: 
    GOAL- West Ham 1-0 Cardiff - Kevin Nolan (15 mins, 3-0 agg)

    Cardiff have had plenty of encouragement in the opening 15 minutes but it is West Ham who have scored the - potentially vital - first goal. The Bluebirds fail to deal with Matty Taylor's whipped corner and the ball bounces up for Kevin Nolan to nod home from point-blank range.

  206. 1645: 

    York are into the final of the Blue Square Bet Premier Conference play-offs, after Matty Blair's extra-time goal gave the Minstermen a 1-0 win on the day and a 2-1 aggregate success.

  207. 1643: 

    Cardiff break dangerously, and Winston Reid has to time his tackle to perfection when he comes across to challenge Kenny Miller inside the Hammers box. I'm not sure he does, though.

    Miller goes down after Reid gets more of man than ball, and the Bluebirds striker is convinced he should have a penalty. Referee Mike Dean thinks otherwise and West Ham's fans breathe again.

  208. 1638:  
    BBC Sport's Mark Bright at West Ham v Cardiff:

    "Cardiff need to try to drive West Ham back and enjoy a positive start to the game. There is a great atmosphere and expectations are high. The home team have made a composed start."

  209. 1636: 

    A bit better from Cardiff, with Kenny Miller almost latching on to a clipped ball over the top from Stephen McPhail (I think). The pass has a bit too much pace on it, though, and bounces out of play.

  210. 1636: 

    The Hammers are putting Cardiff under a bit of pressure down the flanks and all the Bluebirds have managed in response are some hopeful balls hoofed forward.

  211. 1634: 

    Cardiff have started at 100mph but they are not keeping hold of the ball long enough to do anything constructive with it. It is West Ham who are building more effectively from the back, and Carlton Cole has just drilled a shot over the bar from about 25 yards out.


    Zach Kingsbury on Twitter: "If push comes to shove, and Cardiff perform like they did against #LFC in that Carling Cup Final, then they'll take this one."

  213. 1631: 
    KICK-OFF- West Ham v Cardiff (1630 BST, 2-0 agg)

    Cardiff get the game under way.

  214. 1630: 

    Kenny Miller scored the winner when Cardiff won 1-0 in east London on the opening day of the Championship season (on 7 August). Could the Bluebirds begin and end their campaign at the same venue? They have a lot of work to do to book a trip to Wembley instead.

  215. 1628: 

    The Hammers' anthem "I'm forever blowing bubbles" is blasted out as the teams take their place on the pitch. Will they blow a 2-0 first leg lead, though?

  216. 1626: 

    The players emerge from the tunnel at Upton Park. A few smiles in the West Ham camp, but some very serious faces among the Cardiff contingent.


    From Ned, Cardiff fan: "Optimistic for today, we have nothing to lose... gutted to miss this through work!"

  218. 1624: 

    West Ham boss Sam Allardyce, who lost in the the semi-finals of the old Second Division play-offs as Blackpool boss in 1996, having beaten Bradford 2-0 at Valley Parade in the first leg, has been speaking before kick-off on avoiding a similar fate today:

    "All we have got to do is be confident in our own ability and handle the pressure that games like this bring. Plenty of people think it is a foregone conclusion but there are twists and turns in play-off games as people know from down the years. We have to make sure there is not a twist against us this afternoon."

  219. 1617: 

    By the way, the fact that the Mansfield and York Blue Square Bet Conference Premier play-off game has gone to extra-time means that the Wrexham-Luton match will start later than billed.

    They are supposed to kick-off at 1630 BST at the Racecourse but, because both games are being televised on the same TV channel, the second game will not start until the first one is finished.

  220. 1614: 

    More from Malky Mackay now, this time speaking just before kick-off at Upton Park: "West Ham are everyone's favourites, but we have to make sure we are competitive and see where it takes us.

    "How do we make them nervous? By scoring a goal! If we can take our chances, because we failed to do that in the first leg, then there will be a game."

  221. 1613: 
    West Ham v Cardiff (1630 BST, 2-0 agg)

    Phil Dawkes reports:Malky Mackay is drawing strength from the fact nobody expects his side to beat West Ham and reach Wembley. "Most people don't expect anything," acknowledged Mackay.

    "They expect West Ham to go through, that's a natural reaction, but myself and my team don't go in with that attitude - we have 90 minutes to score two and win the game. We have a fighter's chance. Two-nil can be a dangerous score if they are put under pressure."


    Stephen Griffiths on Twitter: "Seen enough bizarre football this year to believe Cardiff can get a result and for WHU to blow it."


    Robert Eggleton on text: "West Ham have had too many home draws this season but today a draw will do just fine. Our last two home games were both wins, including 6-0 against Brighton. COYI."

  224. 1605: 
    West Ham v Cardiff (1630 BST, 2-0 agg)

    West Ham are unchanged from their first-leg win, while Cardiff bring in fit-again defender Kevin McNaughton, who missed that game with a calf strain, and Stephen McPhail in for Don Cowie and Darcy Blake.

  225. 1603: 

    More on that Republic of Ireland squad announcement for Euro 2012 now:

    Wigan midfielder James McCarthy asked to be withdrawn from consideration for selection for the squad after his father was diagnosed with cancer.

    McCarthy, 21, who was born in Scotland but chose to play for the Republic, released a statement saying: "I have made the very difficult decision to withdraw my name from selection from the Euro 2012 squad following the diagnosis of my father with cancer and an ongoing requirement for treatment.

    "I have discussed this with the manager. He was very understanding and I thank him sincerely for that.

    "I take this opportunity to re-affirm my complete commitment to playing for the Republic of Ireland.

    "It is a huge honour and source of great pride for me and my family. Despite not being present, I would like to wish the mannager and my team-mates every success at the tournament and hope that Irish fans can understand the reason for my decision at this difficult time."

  226. 1601: 
    West Ham v Cardiff (1630 BST, 2-0 agg)

    West Ham: Green, Demel, Tomkins, Reid, Taylor, O'Neil, Noble, Nolan, Collison, Cole, Vaz Te. Subs: Henderson, McCartney, Maynard, Faubert, Lansbury.

    Cardiff: Marshall, McNaughton, Hudson, Turner, Taylor, Lawrence, Gunnarsson, Whittingham, McPhail, Mason, Miller. Subs: Heaton, Kiss, Cowie, Earnshaw, Blake.

    Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

  227. 1600: 
    West Ham v Cardiff (1630 BST, 2-0 agg)

    Phil Dawkes reports: West Ham boss Sam Allardyce is playing it cool ahead of his side's play-off second leg against Cardiff, despite their two-goal advantage. "We're not going to get carried away," he said. "Two goals is a margin that's difficult for them but they'll be thinking about getting the first goal and whether we'll be nervous and edgy and trying to protect what we've got."

    Hammers assistant boss Neil McDonald is looking further ahead, though. "The inspiration is Norwich and Swansea to a certain extent. They have gone up and done fantastically well," McDonald said, when asked how his side might fare in the top flight next season.

  228. 1559: 

    That first Blue Square Bet Conference Premier play-off second leg has finished 0-0, so Mansfield and York are heading into extra-time.

    With a 2-0 first-leg lead, it's fair to say Luton hold the advantage in the other tie, but Wrexham finished 17 points ahead of the Hatters in the table and Dragons boss Andy Morrell insists the tie is not over yet.


    From Al in Norwich: "Wigan only need a point to stay up, surely? Bolton's goal difference is atrocious, and I really can't see Blackburn getting out of trouble, regardless of this result."

    Bolton's goal difference is -31, while Wigan's is -22 and the Latics would go three points clear of third-bottom Wanderers with a draw (and also relegate Rovers) so, yes, a point would probably be enough to keep Roberto Martinez's side up. Only a win will make absolutely sure, though.


    Paul Holden on Twitter: "Come on you Irons! Let's finish the job and go to Wembley for the first time in 32 years!"


    Andrew Baldwin on Twitter: "Steve Kean surprised by being in relegation situation? Proves how deluded he has been all season."

  232. 1550: 

    You can read more of that Steve Kean interview elsewhere on the BBC website and I'd be interested to know what Rovers fans make of it - seeing as Rovers only narrowly stayed up last season, and have been near the bottom of the table for most of the current campaign, are they as surprised as Kean is that their team's survival hopes have come to this?

    Kean still thinks Rovers are staying up by the way, which probably won't shock Blackburn supporters...

  233. 1548: 
    Blackburn v Wigan (2000 BST)

    Blackburn boss Steve Kean says he is surprised to see his side deeply embroiled in a relegation battle this season but believes they can still escape, even though two wins out two may not be enough.

    "I didn't expect it to come to this," said Kean. "We have to make sure we stay up. I'm still convinced we can do it. Sometimes you can look at the lads and think they are a little bit nervous and there is a negative energy, but they have looked bright and sharp on the training ground."


    From Chris, a worried Hammers fan: "Really hoping the team can shake off the dodgy home form for today's game. COYI."


    Joshua Wood on Twitter: "I can see a Blackburn win today, but unfortunately it's too little, too late for Kean and Blackburn."

  236. 1544: 
    West Ham v Cardiff (1630 BST, 2-0 agg)

    Phil Dawkes reports: "In theory, West Ham have done the hard bit in this tie, having beaten Cardiff 2-0 in Wales last week's first leg, and are firm favourites courtesy of the strength of their first XI and a current seven-match unbeaten streak. However, this is the play-offs and all too often logic is thrown out of the window.

    "If Cardiff can overturn the two-goal first-leg deficit they will become the first side to do so at this level. They can take hope from the fact that Upton Park has hardly been a fortress this season, with the Hammers drawing eight and losing four of their 23 home league games.

  237. 1543: 
    Republic of Ireland squad for Euro 2012

    BREAKING: Sunderland's James McClean has been named in the Republic of Ireland squad for Euro 2012, but James McCarthy has been left out. More to follow on that one.

  238. 1541: 

    So, that's what's happening. Now I want to know what you will think will happen. Are West Ham heading for Wembley or can Cardiff come back? Are Blackburn Championship-bound or will they drag Wigan back into the scrap to stay up?

    Questions, questions. Tweet me the answers using the hashtag #bbcfootball or text us on 81111 (UK). Make sure YOU PUT YOUR NAME on those texts though.

  239. 1540: 

    There are a couple of Blue Square Bet Conference Premier play-offs to keep across too, with Mansfield taking on York and Wrexham taking on Luton in the second legs of those ties.

    The Stags and the Minstermen are currently drawing 0-0 with about 10 minutes left, having drawn the first leg 1-1. Wrexham, who trail 2-0 from the first leg, get under way against the Hatters at 1630 BST.

  240. 1536: 

    Then we switch our attention to the big basement battle at the bottom of the top flight, which starts at 2000 BST.

    Blackburn's survival hopes are hanging by a thread and they need a win, and by a few goals too, to have any chance of beating the drop. Wigan are not out of the woods yet, either, although they can make sure of their survival with three points today.

  241. 1533: 

    We start with a Championship play-off semi-final, second leg, with West Ham holding a 2-0 lead from their win in Wales last week. Can Big Sam's boys finish the job on their own patch, and set up a Wembley clash with Birmingham or Blackpool? We will find out from 1630 BST onwards.

  242. 1531: 

    Hello. Just two games today, but lots riding on both of them. The first one concerns two sides trying to get into the Premier League and the second one is all about two teams hoping to stay in it.

    I hope you've got a hanky handy, because there might be a few tears later...

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As It Stands Table

Barclays Premier League summary table; it charts each team by position, team name, games played, total goal difference and points
Position Team Played Goal Difference Points
No movement 1 Chelsea 26 34 60
No movement 2 Man City 27 30 55
No movement 3 Arsenal 27 22 51
No movement 4 Man Utd 27 20 50
No movement 5 Liverpool 27 10 48
No movement 6 Southampton 27 18 46
No movement 7 Tottenham 26 5 44
No movement 8 Swansea 27 -3 40
No movement 9 West Ham 27 6 39
No movement 10 Stoke 27 -3 39
No movement 11 Newcastle 27 -10 35
No movement 12 Crystal Palace 27 -7 30
No movement 13 West Brom 27 -9 30
No movement 14 Everton 27 -6 28
No movement 15 Hull 27 -11 26
No movement 16 Sunderland 27 -16 25
No movement 17 QPR 26 -18 22
No movement 18 Burnley 27 -20 22
No movement 19 Aston Villa 27 -24 22
No movement 20 Leicester 26 -18 18