McDonald hails clinical Collison
West Ham assistant manager Neil McDonald paid tribute to Jack Collison after the midfielder scored both goals in his side's 2-0 win at Cardiff.
Collison, who has fought off a persistent knee injury to play a key role in the Hammers' battle for promotion to the Premier League this season, netted twice in the opening period at the Cardiff City Stadium to help West Ham take a giant stride towards a Wembley final in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final.
And McDonald recognised his performance in south Wales as pivotal, as the Hammers set themselves up nicely for the return fixture at Upton Park on Monday.
"He's done fantastically well and he's taken his goals really, really well," he said.
"He's a goalscoring midfield player, very comfortable on the ball and that's another two to his tally which is great.
"We've asked everybody to contribute with the goals and he's certainly done that today and he's done very, very well."
McDonald revealed Collison's continuing recovery from the cartilage problems that have plagued his career means the Wales international does not participate in all the Hammers' training sessions.
But his strengthening and conditioning programmes are obviously paying dividends, and McDonald is hopeful the successful procedures continue to pay off.
"He's got through it very well and the amount of hard work that goes into it has paid off as well and it's all about just trying to get him onto the pitch," he said.
"He does rehab work a less than what the rest of the squad do so we try to strengthen his injury.
"It seems to be working very well at the moment. He's looking very strong."
Cardiff boss Malky Mackay bemoaned his side's misfortune after the defeat.
Mackay paid special attention to Collison's second goal - a volley from the edge of the area which deflected off Liam Lawrence's head, completely wrong-footing Bluebirds keeper David Marshall.
"The second one, it's one of these things that happen in the game - it's luck," he said. "The ball hits somebody and it goes in the opposite corner.
"In the second half we came out and we were much more on the front foot and that's probably why we created the chances we did.
"On another day they drop in.
"We had a couple in the first half and four or five in the second half that, on another day, something different happens."
Mackay was pleased with the way his players reacted to finding themselves two goals down at half-time.
The Welsh outfit fought their way back into the contest after the break, without landing the blow that would have narrowed the deficit ahead of Monday's rematch.
Ben Turner saw his header cleared off the line and Peter Whittingham, Kenny Miller and Mark Hudson all wasted gilt-edged chances on a frustrating evening for Mackay and his charges.
But the Bluebirds manager refused to be too downbeat, saying: "Once half-time came we had a chat and grouped together and we were much more on the front foot in the second half.
"Coming off the pitch there's obviously that immediate disappointment because of the effort they did give - especially second half when we did have those chances.
"It would really change momentum if one of them goes in. Nervousness kicks in like it did in the first half with us."