SPOT ON TO PROVE POINT
Captain Kev hits target
KEVIN O’CONNOR netted a stoppage-time penalty at Swindon to ensure Brentford will begin tomorrow’s second leg on level terms and make last weekend’s spot-kick woes look even more farcical.
Only seven days have passed but already last Saturday’s defeat to Doncaster has gone down in infamy after captain O’Connor was shoved off the ball by Marcello Trotta who proceeded to smash it against the bar from 12 yards.
To rub salt in the wound Donny dashed down the other end, scored, sealed the title and condemned the Bees to the play-offs – where they now face a winner-takes-all clash at Griffin Park tomorrow night.
The Robins were ahead on 70 minutes through Massimo Luongo but the on-loan Spurs man undid his good work when he brought down Harry Forrester in the box in the 90th minute.
With Trotta damned to bench duty throughout there was no danger of O’Connor being denied his duty and the 31-year-old duly stepped up to send the Bees home on level terms.
“Kevin is excellent. He had not played for a long time but stepped up to the plate,” said Brentford manager Uwe Rosler.
“It was a difficult situation for him as he was not playing many matches, but in all the games he looks very solid and does a great job.
“Obviously, in the end, he used all his experience and skills to convert the penalty and I’m very happy for him.
“Of course we have things put in place for certain jobs on the field.We do that for all set-pieces and penalties are included in that.”
Swindon – who are aiming for a return to the second tier for the first time in 13 years – fired the early warning shot as Gary Roberts fizzed over the bar on 21 minutes.
Brentford’s big opportunity arrived moments later as Bradley WrightPhillips threaded through Adam Forshaw, but the midfielder badly miscued with the goal gaping.
And Adam Rooney had a mirror-image chance on the half-hour to get the Robins off the mark – only to be denied by an onrushing Simon Moore.
Bees defender Harlee Dean escaped an early bath on the 35th minute when he appeared to bring down Rooney as the last man back.
Almost immediately, Jonathan Douglas ballooned over with acres of space on the edge of the box after being teed-up by tricky Charlton loanee Wright-Phillips.
Swindon came out with intent in the second-half as Andy Williams carved out space to find Rooney in the box, who failed to get enough purchase on his header.
The home side’s pressure eventually paid off with 20 minutes to go as Luongo showed his Premier League class to calmly slot the ball past Moore from 20 yards out.
Five minutes later, Bees skipper O’Connor flung himself at a Rooney effort to prevent the Irishman from doubling up the score.
Brentford nearly performed a smash-and-grab late on as Tom Adeyemi jinked through the Swindon defence, but more brave defending – this time from Alan McCormack – denied the 21-year-old.
But in the dying moments O’Connor secured a draw to take back to Griffin Park, powering home a penalty after hero Luongo turned villain with a foul on Harry Forrester but Swindon manager Kevin McDonald was staying positive.
“It happens in football and it is now a one-off tie. Conditions didn’t help both teams, it was a bit windy,” he said.
“There were two bits of brilliance that changed the game, Massimo with his goal and then Forrester bagged the penalty for them.
“We are reasonably happy with how the game has gone, we’re still in the game, we’re still in the tie and it is now a one-off.
“We’re decent away from home and they’re decent at home so there is not much between the two sides.”
GOAL HERO: Massimo Luongo, hidden, celebrates with team mates after scoring Swindon’s goal