West Ham United took another step towards returning to English football's Premier League at the first attempt when Jack Collison scored twice in a 2-0 win at Cardiff City in their Championship playoff semi-final first leg.
Welsh midfielder Collison headed in after his first effort was saved on nine minutes and his deflected effort from outside the box made it 2-0 four minutes before the break.
Blackpool and Birmingham City, who like West Ham both went down from the Premier League last season, meet in their semi-final first leg on Saturday.
West Ham missed out to Reading and Southampton on automatic promotion but will be confident of making the May 19th final at Wembley when they welcome Cardiff to London for the second leg on Tuesday.
Cardiff, who started Friday's game brightly before fading and then enjoying a late period of pressure, have a poor record in the playoffs.