Hammers set up final-day decider
West Ham took their npower Championship automatic promotion challenge to the final day of the season as they came from behind to beat Leicester 2-1 at the King Power Stadium.
Anything but victory would have handed Southampton their return to the Barclays Premier League behind champions Reading and left the Hammers in the play-offs.
Jermaine Beckford headed Leicester in front, but But West Ham responded quickly through Winston Reid before Jack Collison smashed home the winning goal in the second half.
Joint-leading scorer Carlton Cole looked a handful on his return from a knee problem and it was his presence that forced a mistake from Sol Bamba inside his own penalty area after six minutes.
The Leicester centre-half dwelled on the ball, Cole dispossessed him and teed-up Gary O'Neil whose low shot was well held by Kasper Schmeichel getting down to his right at full stretch. Cole went close himself with 15 minutes gone, glancing a header wide from Mark Noble's whipped free-kick.
West Ham threatened again when Kevin Nolan volleyed a dropping ball narrowly wide from the left-hand side of the area.
It was against the run of play when Beckford put the hosts in front after 34 minutes. Ben Marshall evaded Matt Taylor down the right and crossed for Beckford to plant a header past Robert Green.
But it was a terrific response from the promotion chasers, who were level within five minutes. Taylor whipped in a brilliant low cross and Reid poked home from inside the six yard box.
West Ham should have gone ahead after 57 minutes but Nolan miscued horribly from a useful Noble pass. A minute later though it was 2-1 as Collison thumped a powerful 18-yard effort beyond an unsighted Schmeichel after St Ledger had initially blocked a shot from O'Neil.
West Ham came within inches of a third goal late on as Taylor's low cross from the left was turned inches past his own post by St Ledger while Nolan then spurned a one-on-one in injury-time, tamely shooting straight at Schmeichel.