The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Gra­ham Ot­way

IAN Hol­loway re­fused to hide be­hind ex­cuses af­ter Rangers com­pleted their sec­ond run of six straight de­feats this sea­son and recorded their first los­ing dou­ble against lo­cal ri­vals Brent­ford since 1965.

In the sec­ond half at Grif­fin Park Brent­ford were handed a de­bat­able penalty and only a few min­utes ear­lier ref­eree James Ad­cock had re­fused to ac­cept that a header from Conor Wash­ing­ton had crossed the line be­fore be­ing cleared by Yoann Bar­bet.

“There was a lot of com­ment in the dress­ing room about the penalty and that we should have had a goal,” said Hol­loway.

“But that’s not the way I feel. If the ref gives the penalty it’s a penalty and if he doesn’t give the goal it’s not a goal. That’s it.

“We had more than enough chances to take some­thing from the match and we didn’t take them. And that’s what dis­ap­pointed me.”

And the end re­sult left Rangers need­ing to take at least a point from their fi­nal two matches against Not­ting­ham For­est and Nor­wich to en­sure safety. And that wor­ries Hol­loway more than his play­ers.

“They are not play­ing for their fu­tures be­cause they are all on con­tracts,” he said.

“But I am play­ing for my fu­ture. I have got a twoand-a-half-year con­tract and I am only six months into it. But if we don’t stay up I can­not imag­ine that I will be stay­ing at the club.”

There can­not be many matches in any sea­son that could pro­vide the swift change of for­tunes that this one did to hit both teams on the hour.

Hav­ing taken the lead through Bar­bet in the 31st minute when, while fall­ing off bal­ance, he stabbed home a Jota cor­ner, Brent­ford had never taken con­trol of the game.

Keeper Daniel Bent­ley had made sev­eral saves to deny Rangers and looked for­tu­nate that Ad­cock didn’t give the ‘goal’.

Brent­ford sur­vived the scares, how­ever, and in the 60th minute Jota dou­bled their ad­van­tage by step­ping up to con­vert a penalty af­ter Ranger’s Joel Lynch had brought down Maxime Colin.

Rangers’ re­sponse was in­stant. From the kick-off they forced a free-kick and Luke Freeman’s cross was pow­er­fully met by Lynch to atone for his costly mis­take barely sec­onds ear­lier.

Yet just as quickly in the 64th minute Brent­ford re­stored their two-goal lead with by far the most flu­ent move of the match.

Nico Yen­naris stretched the Rangers de­fence with a long pass which found Jota out wide on the right.

And af­ter skil­fully con­trol­ling the ball with one touch, he cut in from the right past both Lynch and for­mer Brent­ford boy Jake Bid­well be­fore slid­ing the ball un­der the ad­vanc­ing Alex Smithies.

Rangers threat­ened reg­u­larly through the fi­nal half-hour but Bent­ley did well to clutch a Matt Smith header and al­though he was beaten by sub­sti­tute Idrissa Sylla, the shot ran ag­o­nis­ingly wide.

Brent­ford head coach Dean Smith sug­gested the score­line flat­tered his team. “We were nowhere near the level we have been per­form­ing at. We have played bet­ter in a lot more games,” he said.

“We al­ways knew that with the height of Matt Smith up front they would al­ways be dan­ger­ous. But the re­sult was al­ways go­ing to be im­por­tant and we had to work hard to grind it out.”

PIC­TURE: ProS­ports/ Andy Wal­ter

OPENER: Brent­ford de­fender Yoann Bar­bet scores the first goal

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