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Match Report


Posted Sun 06 Apr 03 at 16:02 PM


Brentford fought back from two goals down to level with struggling Cheltenham Town at a sunny Griffin Park. End of season games always spring a surprise, and whilst both teams could not match the high-scoring feats seen elsewhere, they certainly dished up their fair share in drama.

The real talking point however was the double dismissal of Leo Roget and Robins' substitute Julian Alsop for fighting. Alsop - who scored a last minute winner against The Bees in November - was aided from the field amongst frenzied scenes to the dressing rooms by his manager Bobby Gould and The Police, after initially refusing to leave the field of play.

Cheltenham struck first blood in the 23rd minute after Referee Frazer Stretton adjudged Ibrahima Sonko's nudge on makeshift striker John Brough to be a penalty kick. Mr Stretton will have been hard pushed to have awarded a softer decision all season. Goalkeeper Paul Smith guessed correctly and dived to his left but Grant McCann shot evaded him and went into the net. Six minutes later, the visitors doubled their lead. Leo Roget's poor first touch near the touchline led him to be robbed of the ball by Marvin Brown, and with Sonko and Paul Smith caught out of position, Brown's square ball fell for Devaney, whose scuffed shot hit the target.

Eleven minutes after the break, Jamie Fullarton and Kevin O'Connor were brought on and this proved to be the catalyst for a Brentford recovery. Fullarton's animated style of play seemed to give the rest of the team new purpose, The Scot cajoling his colleagues to up the tempo. With O'Connor looking sharp up front, things were slowly swinging back to The Bees. On 63 minutes, the comeback was on the way, Michael Dobson heading Martin Rowlands corner for a true captain's finish.

In a match that had not threatened to boil over, exploded into life with sixteen minutes remaining. Roget and Alsop, who had been involved in a shoving match sixty seconds earlier, suddenly were entangled again with more serious consequences. After the majority of the twenty-two homed into the area to have their say, both the instigators were dismissed. Alsop was furious at the decision, and remonstrated with in turn: the referee, his assistant, Roget and members of the Brentford coaching staff. The two players were kept apart by referee and police, both having to walk the full length of the pitch to the dressing rooms, before play could restart.

It was the worse possible scenario for Cheltenham. Bees' heads rose and in the 78th minute, got their just reward. Yates was too casual in shepherding the ball out for a goal kick, Stephen Hunt nipped in to supply a pin-point cross - and the resulting diving header from Kevin O'Connor sent the Brook Road terrace into ecstasy.

An amazing eight minutes of stoppage time were played out before the Referee signalled the end of a match that will be talked about for some time.

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