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Match Report


Posted Wed 19 Mar 03 at 11:31 AM


Bees manager Wally Downes pointed the finger squarely at his side's failure to defend set-pieces adequately as the reason why Brentford returned home from The Potteries without anything to show for it.

Paul Smith was a virtual spectator at times, but The Bees shortcomings in front of goal allowed Vale to take all three points. Downes made three changes from the defeat at home to Stockport. He dropped Martin Rowlands and Lee Fieldwick, with Rowan Vine positioned wide on the right and Kevin O'Connor in the centre of midfield.

Brentford made the most of Vale Park's open space in the early stages, and should made that count in the thirteenth minute. Stephen Hunt - restored to the starting eleven after a knee injury - traded in one his now famous step-overs to provide an inch-perfect cross for Mickael Antoine-Curier. The Frenchman's shot however, was wide of the goal.

As the half progressed, Port Vale had begun to expose the lack of pace on The Bees left, basing most of their attacks down that flank.

However it was a measure of Brentford's recent luck that the first thing of note Bees goalkeeper Paul Smith did was to pick the ball out of his own net, as Vale edged ahead in the 36th minute. Adrian Littlejohn's corner was met unchallenged by the towering figure of Sam Collins, who headed home.

A hamstring injury to Eddie Hutchinson meant Martin Rowlands was returned to action for the second-half. Nine minutes after the break, ex-Sheffield United striker Adrian Littlejohn sped down the left-wing to feed Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, but he blazed over the bar. Mid-way through the half Rowlands took a speculative shot that cannoned off Lee Brisco's back. Fortunately for the Vale defender, it landed on the roof of the net. Sixty seconds later, Mark McCammon's header from a Dobson cross went inches past the post.

With fifteen minutes left, a rare Vale attack saw Billy Paynter's header pushed onto the post by Paul Smith. The final stages of the contest belonged to Brentford, as they were camped in the Vale penalty area. However, all they had to show for it was a shot by Stephen Hunt in stoppage time that was too little, too late.

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