West Ham v Blackpool Championship play-off final odds and free bets

The younger generation of Blackpool supporters won’t remember Sam Allardyce being manager of the Tangerines, although the 57-year-old enjoyed a two-year spell in charge at Bloomfield Road between 1994 and 1996

Since then, Allardyce has taken charge of Notts County, Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United, Blackburn Rovers and he is now briefed with steering West Ham United back to the Premier League.

The Hammers looked set to claim a top two spot in the Championship for much of the campaign, although they were pipped by Reading and Southampton and now have to overcome Blackpool at Wembley to reach the Premier League.

The London side are understandable favourites at even money (Sportingbet) to claim victory in ninety minutes and return to the top flight after one season out of the Premier League and they easily brushed aside Cardiff City after winning 2-0 in Wales before a 3-0 win at Upton Park to cement a 5-0 aggregate victory.

West Ham are therefore carrying lots of momentum into this play-off final, especially as they are unbeaten in their last eight and scoring lots of goals. Kevin Nolan continues to be a driving force for his team and odds of 9/1 (Ladbrokes free bets) look too big about the Hammers captain.

Ricardo Vaz Te has been a superstar since arriving from Barnsley and he will lead the line at Wembley, with the Portuguese forward on offer at 6/1 (Stan James) to break the deadlock, while Carlton Cole was lining up for England not so long ago and desperately wants to be back in the Premier League shop window.

Nevertheless, we shouldn’t write off a Blackpool side who saw off Birmingham City over two legs, winning 1-0 at Bloomfield Road before securing a 2-2 draw at St Andrews. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that the Tangerines are back at Wembley considering they came up through the play-offs last time.

Ian Holloway’s tactics seem to be spot on for these encounters, namely to shake the nerves out of your system by adopting an all-out attacking approach and Blackpool are surely overpriced at 3/1 (BetVictor bookmaker) to claim victory against a Hammers side that might be feeling the pressure.

Perhaps the bookies have priced this match accordingly because West Ham have thrashed their opponents home and away this term, although it has been nine games since the seaside club tasted defeat and those odds about them winning really are too big.

Matt Phillips arrived from Aylesbury for £325,000 in August 2012 and the striker has scored 18 for the season, with Blue Square going 10/1 about him scoring the first goal of the game, while namesake Kevin Phillips still has the killer instinct in front of goal.

It is hard to see anything other than a high-scoring contest between the two teams and it could be worth plumping for a 4-2 winning scoreline on offer at 66/1 or even a 4-3 (150/1).

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