Jack Collison scored twice to give West Ham a 2-0 at Cardiff in Thursday night’s Championship play-off semi-final first leg.
The 23 year old Welsh International opened the scoring on nine minutes with a close range effort before his deflected volley made it two nil four minutes before half time.
Cardiff could have been three nil down at half but for a fine save from David Marshall, the former Celtic keeper diving to his left to keep a goal bound header from Carlton Cole.
Malkay MacKay side, playing their 56th game of a demanding season, struggled to find their rhythm, although they could have gone ahead inside the second minute when Peter Whittingham’s deflected effort fell the wrong side of the crossbar.
The Welsh side improved in the second half and could have halved the deficit when Kenny Miller got on the end of Liam Lawrence’s ball over the top, however his touch was poor and West Ham got back to clear.
West Ham struggled to get into the game in the second half as Cardiff closed them down however they failed to create genuine scoring chances.
Mark Hudson went close with a header and Robert Earnshaw volleyed wide when in a good position while at the other end Kevin Nolan’s weak header caused Marshall no trouble.
In the end West Ham held on and while confident of securing a place at Wembley ahead of the second leg in Upton Park on Monday.