Bees’ spot of bother with pushy teenager
By now, we all know what happened at Brentford last weekend. As one of the privileged few to nab a seat at Griffin Park, I can honestly say it was the most dramatic 17 seconds of sport I’ve ever witnessed.
One moment, Doncaster were staring at the play-offs. One missed penalty and a breakaway goal later, they were champions of League One.
For Donny, it was joy unbounded. For Brentford, only gut-wrenching despair. I’ve watched clubs get relegated and never seen desolation like it.
The concourses were filled with men, women and kids either shocked into ashenfaced silence or slumped against the chipped red railings, wracked with sobs.
And in the aftermath, the finger of blame was pointed squarely at Marcello Trotta, the 19-year-old Fulham loanee who blasted that fateful penalty off the crossbar. The Italian has come in for some fearsome stick after snatching the ball from Kevin O’Connor, the Bees regular penalty taker. That is as it should be. But if you ask me, the fault is collective – starting with O’Connor. As the skipper, he should have laid down the law. As a senior player, he should not have been pushed around by a teenager. And as Uwe Rosler’s mouthpiece on the pitch, it was incumbent on the 31-year-old to ensure the game plan was followed through. On all three counts, he came up short.
“I should have taken the penalty,” he said this week.“I was trying to take it but all credit to Trotts, he wanted it and had the ball so I couldn’t physically get it off him.”
Sorry, but this doesn’t wash. Back in 1999, Newcastle were beating Sheffield Wednesday 7-0 when young striker Paul Robinson tumbled to win a penalty.
Clearly desperate for a goal, the teenager grabbed the ball and trotted to the spot. But Alan Shearer – who already had four goals that day – was having none of it. The England captain informed Robinson in blunt terms that:‘I take the penaties here, son’.
Crucially, several other senior players bundled the kid away, just like at Wembley this season when Swansea’s Nathan Dyer – on a hat-trick in the League Cup final – was talked out of usurping Jonathan De Guzman by a phalanx of teammates. Obviously the situations are poles apart, but that is how it’s done. To give O’Connor his due, maybe he didn’t want to make a scene by getting into a wrestling match, thus heaping extra pressure on either himself or Trotta.
But when that much is riding on it, nothing else matters. O’Connor should have done everything in his power to wrest that ball away – and his mates should have helped him. One thing is certain: they won’t make the same mistake again.
DOWN AND OUT: Marcello Trotta smashes his penalty against the bar. Inset: Trotta and the Brentford players at the final whistle
UP FOR IT: Doncaster celebrate unexpected promotion to the Championship