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“The play-offs provide a fantastic opportunity for the fans to potentially enjoy a day out at Wembley.”

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It has been a real period of mixed emotions for West Ham fans over the Easter break. Firstly we had the joy of comprehensively winning at Barnsley, scoring four goals and setting a new club record.

However, this was short-lived as on Monday evening at half time, the Hammers found themselves 3-1 down, having been punished by Birmingham City.

That disappointment was overcome by an inspirational second-half display from Sam Allardyce’s side as West Ham managed to claw two goals back and were unlucky not to actually win the game.

Fast forward 24 hours, and the picture doesn’t look so bright for Hammers fans, as Reading’s lucky win at Brighton means that the Royals, along with Southampton, are now six points clear of West Ham at the top of the league.

With only four games to go, our chances of automatic promotion look to be slipping away.

Of course, Reading do still have to go to Southampton and then Birmingham on the last day of the season, but in a way the Hammers’ fate could well now be out of their own hands.

All West Ham can do now is focus on their remaining four games of the season and go all out to win them all.

There is no point worrying about what the other teams will be getting up to as we can only affect what we do on the pitch.

If the Hammers do end up in the play-offs then it isn’t the end of the world.

Sometimes it is more fun to get promoted via the play-offs, and they provide a fantastic opportunity for the fans and their families to potentially enjoy a day out at Wembley.

What will be important if we do end up finishing in third place is that we build up momentum between now and the end of the season.

The second half of the Birmingham game will hopefully kick-start things and the lads should be buzzing ahead of this weekend’s game against Brighton.

Let’s face it, it is about time that West Ham managed to get a win at Upton Park and I believe that we will end our home hoodoo on Saturday.

Gus Poyet has created a Brighton side that like to play good football, but the Seagulls haven’t had the best results of late away from home, so we have to hit the ground running and have a real go at them from the first whistle.

I actually think that Brighton’s style of play will suit the Hammers better than a side that comes to Upton Park looking to put 10 men behind the ball and play on the counter attack.

We only have to look back to when Blackpool came to east London, tried to play good football and ended up getting beaten 4-0.

Another performance like that would certainly set the Hammers up nicely for the season run-in.

Before that though, I imagine all eyes will be on St Mary’s tomorrow night (Friday) when Reading visit the Saints and I hope that the game lives up to its expectations.

I don’t think that there can really be a bad outcome for West Ham as one, if not both, of the two sides will drop some points.

With only four games to go, I’m sure that there could be one last twist in the race for automatic promotion from the Championship.

Watch this space.

Tony Cottee was talking to Nathaniel John

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