Cap­tain Kev hits tar­get

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE PLAY-OFFS 1ST LEG - By Chris Bai­ley

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

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