Sam Allardyce's West Ham United are all but through to the Championship playoff final at Wembley Stadium after pulling off an impressive 2-0 road win over Cardiff City on Thursday evening. The Bluebirds look to be missing out on promotion yet again unless they can pull off an absolute miracle at Upton Park in the return leg next week.
Jack Collison scored both goals for West Ham, with the first coming early in the match and the second coming on a set piece near the end of the first half. He opened the scoring in the 9th minute, getting on the end of a great counter-attack. Ricardo Vaz Te created the chance with a cross and Collison hit a shot on target, but David Marshall was able to make a very impressive save. Unfortunately, the save deflected right into Collison's path and he headed the ball into the back of the net with his second chance.
With a one-goal lead in the early going on the road, West Ham were able to get a little more conservative and they defended the lead extremely well while looking dangerous on the counter, in true Allardyce fashion. Collison's second came in the 41st minute on a 20-yard strike that took a big deflection off of a Cardiff defender, following a corner kick.
Cardiff had chances to get back into the tie in the second half, but failed to take them. Veteran strikers Kenny Miller and the man that replaced him in the 74th minute, Robert Earnshaw, both had scoring chances but did not look sharp with their finishing by any stretch. The Bluebirds got the ball around the West Ham box plenty, but Robert Green was rarely called into action.
Kevin Nolan had the best chance of the second half with a clear header on a cross by Matty Taylor, but failed to direct the ball into the net with the goal at his mercy. In the end, his team didn't really need the extra goal, and shouldn't have too much of a problem advancing to Wembley after the second leg.