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Match Report


Posted Sun 28 Mar 04 at 13:36 PM


Brentford recorded their first away win in four months with a deserved victory over promotion-chasing Hartlepool United.

Bees Manager Martin Allen spoke prior to the match of heading North to raid some gold, and he got exactly that; three precious points in the fight to avoid the drop. He was helped by the fact all fourteen Bees that took part chased for every ball, tackled like men possessed and put their foot in where it mattered. The backline of Dobson, Fitzgerald, Sonko and Bull were superb, giving rookie goalkeeper Alan Julian valuable protection.

From the moment Jay Tabb's strike put The Bees in front, it was obvious Brentford were not there to make up the numbers. Martin Allen favoured Kevin O'Connor to Matt Harrold in attack, and his faith in the 22-year-old striker paid off after just two minutes play, as it was his through ball that gave Jay Tabb the opportunity to waltz past the home defence and fire home from ten yards out.

Following Tabb's opener, a nervous home team were pinned back by a confident Brentford outfit keen to forge further ahead. In the eleventh minute, Kevin O'Connor's thought he had extended The Bees lead, but the goal was ruled out for a push by Ben May on Hartlepool goalkeeper Jim Provett. With Brentford so dominant, it was criminal they nearly threw the lead away with twenty minutes on the clock when Hugh Robertson's twenty-five yard thunderbolt cracked the crossbar. Three minutes later, O'Connor seized on a gaffe between Provett and 'Pool left-back Scott Walker to aim for goal but his shot trickled wide of the right-hand post.

Goalscorer Tabb then turned provider in the 34th minute as Brentford doubled their lead with a routine fresh from the training ground. From Tabb's corner, Michael Dobson lurked round the back of the defence to head past Provett from twelve yards. Not to be out-done, the home side fought back with a goal of their own four minutes later, Adam Boyd's superb curling shot giving Alan Julian no chance.

O'Connor again went agonisingly close in the 40th minute with an attempted cross that defected off a defender and went just past the post. 'Pool had the chance to go into the break level but Julian blocked Eifion Williams' goalbound shot.

In stoppage time, Jay Tabb was injured in an accidental clash of heads with Kevin O'Connor. Tabb lay motionless for a couple of minutes, and although he bravely carried on until half-time, did not re-appear for second forty-five. This meant tactical changes; substitute Andy Frampton patrolling the left channel with Stephen Hunt swapping over to the right.

Two minutes into the second half, Hartlepool stormed forward. Joel Porter's pass to Williams gave the Welsh forward a great opportunity but his shot was off-target. Matt Somner and Matt Harrold were brought on for Stephen Hunt and Kevin O'Connor just past the half-hour mark. The latter almost opened his League account in the 70th minute when the ball fell to his feet with the goal at his mercy, Provett having palmed away Michael Dobson's direct free-kick. However, the teenager's shot from five yards was well saved. A minute later, Julian earned the plaudits for a fine stop from Hugh Robertson.

As the game reached its climax, The Bees stood firm to everything that was thrown at them; Michael Dobson's overhead kick in the 85th minute to clear his lines just one example of a defence that would not give in. At the final whistle, the whole Brentford entourage of players' and staff headed over to the travelling support that had made the long journey north.

Attendance: 5206 (235 Bees).

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