BATTLING SPITFIRES STUNG BY BUSY BEES
MARTIN ALLEN’S Eastleigh may have been outclassed by his former club, but he insists returning to Brentford is one of the highlights of his career.
Eastleigh, who were knocked out by Bolton Wanderers at this stage a year ago, were always struggling – as Yoann Barbet’s penalty was followed by goals from Tom Field and Lasse Vibe in the opening 23 minutes for the Championship side.
Midfielder Ayo Obileye pulled one back for the visitors, but the Bees stretched their lead before the break courtesy of Field’s second and Romaine Sawyers.
And Allen, who managed Brentford between 2004-06, was gracious in defeat by admitting his old team got the better of his new charges.
“It was very special. It has got to go down as one of the highlights of my career,” he said.
“I wasn’t sure if that was a penalty. But they were better than us, let’s not kid ourselves. This was going to be a hard game for us whatever the weather. I thought the players gave a great account of themselves.”
Brentford were given a head start when keeper Graham Stack brought down Vibe, after he met Sawyers’ neat pass, with Barbet calmly slotting home on nine minutes.
Sawyers was provider again on 17 minutes with a fantastic cross to Field, who netted his first senior goal.
Eastleigh spurned a chance minutes later as Obileye was unable to turn in a free-kick, and Brentford punished them immediately.
Midfielder Josh McEachran selflessly passed to Vibe, who curled past Stack, to seemingly end the contest.
Eastleigh clawed one back on 29 minutes, as Daniel Bentley’s miscued punch fell to Obileye, who scored from four yards out. But the Bees restored their three-goal cushion shortly after as Field ran onto McEachran’s pass and fired into the corner. Sawyers then netted one himself – Vibe providing a perfect lay-off for his strike partner to score from 25 yards. The second half was played at a more sedate pace, but Obileye should have scored on 64 minutes, heading Michael Green’s corner over. Substitute Jota went close for Brentford late on, but the game was won long beforehand. “I asked for three things from the players: work rate, attitude and application – and they gave me all three,’ said Bees boss Dean Smith. “I think I made my intentions clear when I named the team to the players yesterday. They knew we wanted to get through to the next round. Obviously, it was a potential banana skin, but we needed to be professional. “We could have scored more, but they probably could have scored a few as well.”
IT’S BEHIND YOU! Ayo Obileye scores a consolation goal for Eastleigh TOO STRONG: Rochdale’s Harrison McGahey tussles for the ball