‘We prac­tised that – we knew the keeper comes off his line’

Bryan says cru­cial free-kick was a care­fully re­hearsed move Brent­ford man­ager Frank vows team will re­turn stronger

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport | Football - By Sam Dean

Joe Bryan, Ful­ham’s play-off fi­nal hero, re­vealed that his sen­sa­tional free-kick goal against Brent­ford was the re­sult of a de­lib­er­ate strat­egy to ex­pose op­po­si­tion goal­keeper David Raya.

Bryan scored two won­der­ful goals in ex­tra time to send Ful­ham back to the Premier League, with his first a free-kick from 40 yards.

The Ful­ham left-back shaped to cross the ball, even look­ing to­wards the back post, be­fore flash­ing it be­yond Raya in the Brent­ford goal.

Mo­ments ear­lier he had spo­ken with Scott Parker, his man­ager, on the touch­line.

“He [Parker] said to whip it in the near post be­cause the goal­keeper comes ridicu­lously far off his line,” said Bryan. “That is some­thing we prac­tised this week.”

Asked about his use of the eyes to di­vert the at­ten­tion of the Brent­ford de­fence, Bryan added: “That is from my dad. He used to give me the eyes when he made me go in goal.”

Parker said he had brought up the tac­tic in a meet­ing ear­lier in the day. “We had done our due dili

gence on their keeper and he has a very ag­gres­sive start­ing po­si­tion from free-kicks,” he said.

“I called Joe over but I did not want to let on to Brent­ford’s bench and play­ers, so we tried to bluff it a bit. I said to Joe: ‘Lis­ten, I want you to go for it. I want you to com­mit to it.’ ”

Bryan later fin­ished off a fine team move to score his sec­ond of the night, be­fore Hen­rik Dals­gaard pulled a goal back for Brent­ford.

“We have been writ­ten off five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 times,” said Bryan. “I even read some­where we were sup­posed to be scared of them. But we took it to them.”

Bryan’s hero­ics meant that Ful­ham have re­turned to the top flight at the first time of ask­ing af­ter their dis­as­trous rel­e­ga­tion in the pre­vi­ous cam­paign. It also pro­vided Parker with a mem­o­rable end to his first full sea­son as a man­ager.

“This was a team that 15 months ago lost most weeks,” said Parker. “Ev­ery­one could see that from the out­side and judge that.

“What peo­ple did not see and did not un­der­stand was a deep-rooted is­sue at a club that had some wounds and is­sues. We have tried to change the men­tal­ity. I am proud be­cause I see a team that has trans­formed.

“Some clear er­rors were made [when Ful­ham were pro­moted] last time and we will learn from that.”

Thomas Frank, the Brent­ford head coach, did not at­tempt to hide his dis­ap­point­ment at the re­sult, which pre­vented his side from re­turn­ing to the top flight for the first time in 73 years.

“I think it is im­por­tant that ev­ery­one re­laxes for a few days and finds out that the sun will rise again to­mor­row, that it is not the end of the world,” said Frank, who is likely to lose at least one star player, such as Said Ben­rahma or Ollie Watkins, to a big­ger club this sum­mer.

“I know we are com­ing back even stronger next sea­son, I am 100 per cent sure of that,” Frank said.

“I think we are very fine mar­gins away from the Premier League which is an in­cred­i­ble achieve­ment for us. No­body knows what will hap­pen to­mor­row but I know we will have a very strong squad next sea­son.”

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