Who is tough?

NOW let's see who the tough guys are.After the strengths and weaknesses of both teams were exposed on Saturday, how each take advantage of those will be key on Wednesday.

NOW let's see who the tough guys are.

After the strengths and weaknesses of both teams were exposed on Saturday, how each take advantage of those will be key on Wednesday.

The second leg will now be down to the team that is mentally toughest, has the players who want it most and the men with enough character to step forward and make their mark.

There will be no room for shirkers, the faint-hearted will be found out and the weak will be exposed.

That there will be goals is almost certain. That someone will make a mistake, virtually inevitable. That passions will bubble over, there is no doubt.

The team that goes to Cardiff at the end of the month will be the one that handles the pressure, has the players who want it most but keep their cool and their shots on target.

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While the draw at West Ham means the semi-final now boils down to 90, or 120 minutes, the lessons learnt will be crucial

At least Ipswich can take heart that they sorted their main problem out at half time when Fabian Wilnis was switched back to the right to deal with Matthew Etherington, as he has done so often in the past.

Drissa Diallo was hopelessly exposed by the winger but was not helped by the lack of a genuine right-sided midfielder to give him cover.

Etherington skipped past Diallo after a Jimmy walker long clearance was nodded on to him by skipper Nigel Reo-Coker, who was celebrating his 21st birthday.

There was a suspicion that Marlon Harewood, who arrived unmarked to poke the ball in after just seven minutes, fouled Richard Naylor in the build-up.

That Etherington has the ability to beat players was no surprise and that he would have got the better of Diallo no shock, but still the Guinea international was used instead of Matt Richards, or even more obviously a different system which would have offered more protection against West Ham's wide men.

While Richards bounded up and down the sidelines warming up Etherington got past Diallo again, and even though his cross was cleared by Jason De Vos it only went as far as an unmarked Bobby Zamora who steered the ball home.

Diallo was not alone in blame. The midfield were struggling to pick up runners and caught by the movement of Reo-Coker and Hayden Mullins.

Kevin Horlock, who was also replaced at half time, stood his ground but was being swamped.

Ian Westlake ran around energetically but never got near man or ball and was simply by-passed, even when he moved into the middle with Darren Currie looking more effective in the second half.

It is certainly a characteristic of the Blues that they have now come back from behind 13 times to get a result of some sort. What is worrying though is how Town manage to get themselves in such a mess so often in the first place.

How long they continue to get away with it remains to be seen – two more games would be enough, but even their luck is going to run out soon.

They used up a huge slice of it at Upton park by getting a goal back moments before the break.

Shefki Kuqi drew a foul from Tomas Repka, whose stupid reaction was to prove dear.

The kick was moved to the edge of the area, the wall pushed back to almost the six-yard line by Uriah Rennie, much to the Hammers' disgust.

When the kick was eventually taken, Tommy Miller showed acute awareness to hit a low ball past the poorly-placed wall. Kuqi cleverly ran in front of Walker, obscuring his view as the ball hit a post, and then smacked against the hapless keeper's foot and into the net.

The goal had a double effect, positive for Ipswich and bewildering for the Hammers.

The half-time reshuffle helped Ipswich feel secure and they had much the better of the second half.

Even so, they could easily have been 3-1 down when Anton Ferdinand got a superb connection with a downward header on a Shaun Newton cross but Kelvin Davis somehow contorted his body to push the ball away as it bounced up.

A stunning save to add to the Players' Player of the Year's already amazing collection.

That just added to the Hammers' feeling of despair, and stuck between going for another or defending what they had, they ended up doing neither.

Ipswich took full advantage of the confusion, and of a terrible mix-up between Walker and Ferdinand after the keeper had initially saved a thunderous Darren Bent volley. The pair got in each other's way; the ball dropped invitingly for Kuqi and the Finn finished from three yards.

Etherington had been dealt with in an uncompromising fashion with Fabian Wilnis and Richard Naylor going into the book for fouls on him, while Tommy Miller somehow escaped censure.

The winger must have been beside himself when he was booked for a nothing challenge on Westlake, his first of the afternoon.

Naylor cleared a dangerous low ball by Harewood while Walker clawed away a fabulous Currie free kick as the game finished even.

It won't on Wednesday – it can't – but which team will be tough enough to find the edge?

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

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