Thursday, Cardiff City Stadium, 7.45, live on Sky Sports 1
WEST HAM are favourites to win the Championship play-offs and can move a step closer to a Premier League return by avoiding defeat at Cardiff.
Semi-final first legs are usually cagey affairs and for me the draw looks the most likely result with the Hammers then going on to win the second leg at home.
The Hammers deserve their place having finished 10 points ahead of fourth-placed Birmingham and 11 clear of Cardiff who only sealed their place with a battling win against Crystal Palace last week. The Bluebirds were beaten 2-0 in Wales a couple of months ago but earlier in the season won 1-0 at Upton Park.
But those results won't mean too much in what promises to be a tense occasion. I can see another unders game – eight of Cardiff's last 10 have been – and under 2.5 goals pays 3-4 at BetVictor while the time of the first goal after 31 minutes is my call at 23-10 at William Hill.
There are plenty of contenders for first goal with Kenny Miller favourite for Cardiff but I'd prefer to take Joe Mason at 9-4 with bet365 to net at any time after hitting three in five matches.
Under 2.5 goals
First goal time over 31 mins
(23-20, William Hill)
Cole to score