Tomkins was excellent. Reid was good. Noble was calmness personified. Vaz Te set up the first goal excellently and covered back surprisingly well. Taylor was fine. Collison scored twice, was caught offside four times and was generally ordinary. Demel was ok. Cole was dozy but very nearly scored at the end of the first half. O'Neil was neat and tidy. And Nolan missed a sitter but otherwise played his part. Only Green was poor but he had so little to do, that didn't really matter.
Collison took his first goal well, getting on the end of a superb Vaz Te pass and following up with determination when Marshall made a good save. And I think his second was heading for the top corner before the deflection took it in the opposite direction but into the goal regardless. Cole forced an excellent save from Marshall with a lovely header and Nolan headed wide inside the six yard box when it was easier to score.
The most impressive aspect of our game was the way we closed and harried and the way we retained possession. The Noble knockers should watch the tape back and note just how well he controlled the game. He was again available to receive the ball all over the pitch and took the sting out of the contest with calm, sensible, mature passing to team mates. Where Parker was all hustle and bustle in the role, invariably losing possession and throwing himself into a challenge to make amends, Noble simply keeps the ball. He and Tomkins were again the stand out players for me.
So, half time it is so far so good. It is hard to imagine Cardiff can play that badly in the second leg but if we can't progress from this platform then we really must be crap - and we're not! Credit to Allardyce, the tactics were spot on and our football was not hoof ball by any stretch of the imagination. All in all, it was a professional, calm and slick performance, typified by our superb ball retention during the added five minutes. Cardiff weren't allowed a sniff!
Player ratings: Green 3 (Good save in the first minute but made a cash of one punch, dropped an easy catch and was rooted in no man's land when Cole cleared off the line); Demel 6, Tomkins 9, Reid 7, Taylor 6; Noble 8, O'Neil 7, Vaz Te 6, Collison 6, Nolan 6; Cole 6 Subs McCartney 6, Faubert 5, Maynard (Not on long enough to rate)