Fab: I'll stop Matt

DEFIANT Fabian Wilnis today promised Ipswich fans: “I'll stop Matthew Etherington.”Etherington emerged as the biggest threat to the Blues' Premiership hopes in Saturday's 2-2 draw with West Ham in the play-off first leg.

DEFIANT Fabian Wilnis today promised Ipswich fans: “I'll stop Matthew Etherington.”

Etherington emerged as the biggest threat to the Blues' Premiership hopes in Saturday's 2-2 draw with West Ham in the play-off first leg.

But Wilnis is confident he can snuff out the threat of the Hammers danger man at Portman Road on Wednesday.

The Blues hold the upper hand after storming back from a 2-0 deficit at Upton Park.

And Etherington, who broke Town's hearts with a stunning equaliser in last season's play-off semi-final, second leg, was the architect of both goals on Saturday.

He led Drissa Diallo a merry dance, but once Wilnis moved to right back Ipswich took over to show their superiority over a team that finished 12 points below them in the Coca-Cola Championship.

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If Wilnis can contain the left-sided play-maker in midweek, Ipswich will be well on their way to Cardiff and a play-off final that could lead to the treasures of the Premiership.

A buoyant Wilnis said: “I will use all the tricks I am allowed to. I have played against Matthew a number of times, and know he doesn't like playing against me.

“Things went much better for us after his influence went from the game, and this is how I intend it to be on Wednesday.

“He is a good player, but I am confident I can handle him.”

Wilnis, who twisted his knee when making a desperate block on Marlon Harewood in the first period at Upton Park, added: “We are all in a positive mood after Saturday.

“If we can carry on in the same way on Wednesday in front of our own fans we will get the result we want.

“Our supporters can make it a night to remember and if they get behind us and make it a hostile atmosphere like West Ham fans did in the semi-final, second leg last year I cannot see any other result than a win for us.”

Town fans filled 6,382 seats on Saturday and watched in despair as Marlon Harewood and Bobby Zamora scored early goals for the hosts.

But an own goal by keeper James Walker just before the interval, and Shefki Kuqi's 20th goal of the campaign in the 74th minute have put Ipswich in the driving seat.

“We know what is at stake,” added Wilnis. “I have never been to the Millennium Stadium and so want to now. We would have taken a draw before the start of Saturday's match.

“We conceded two sloppy goals and I could not believe we were two goals down.

“But we did not panic, kept passing and in the end showed what a good side we can be.”

Town, who picked up no injuries, resumed training this afternoon, with the winners of Wednesday's game meeting either Derby County or Preston North End in Cardiff for a place in the Premiership.

Kuqi, who grabbed his fourth goal in the last four games for Town, said: “My goal was for our fans.

“They have been unbelievable and we hope to give them a great night on Wednesday and then a great afternoon in Cardiff.

“After half and hour we began knocking the ball around and when 2-0 down we knew we could score goals.

“We did well to come back and control the game.”

Matt Richards, came on for the second half, and said: “I hope I have done enough to keep my place for Wednesday.

“It has been disappointing not to figure on the bench in recent games, but this time I was given my chance and was up for the challenge.

“Things did not go according to plan early on and West Ham overran us.

“But even then I was not despondent and confident we would get our act together.

“There is a long way to go but we have a great chance of reaching Cardiff now.”