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Match Report


Posted Sat 10 Dec 11 at 16:56 PM


Brentford picked up a vital home win as they scored twice in the last ten minutes to beat Hartlepool United.

After 80 goalless minutes, Niall McGinn opened the scoring with a lob that Hartlepool goalkeeper Scott Flinders should probably have kept out, only for the visitors to hit back immediately.

But Brentford were awarded a late penalty and Gary Alexander, who led the line superbly all afternoon, scored at the second attempt after Flinders had kept his spot kick out.

The Bees probably deserved the points - they showed more attacking instinct than their visitors - but looked as if they would miss out before the late, late show.

The first quarter of the match was pretty even - Hartlepool, with their five man midfield, were happy to sit in for long periods, but got men in to the box when they could.

Brentford had a lot of possession but only really looked like opening the visitors up when they got crosses, and men, in to the penalty area.

There were chances in the first 25 minutes but neither goalkeeper was unduly tested.

Richard Lee held on to an Antony Sweeney header before the same man nodded well wide.

At the other end, Clayton Donaldson narrowly missed the target with a fierce left footed drive that left Flinders stranded, Alexander headed over and Leon Legge watched a looping header drift in to the arms of the visitors' stopper.

Legge made a vital tackle to stop Andy Monkhouse finishing off a good breakaway and Toumani Diagouraga did likewise when the same man looked as if he would pick up a loose ball ten yards out.

Lee held a weak James Brown header but as the game approached the half hour, Brentford started to take control.

Donaldson headed wide and Sam Saunders missed the target with a curling shot, but Brentford were getting closer.

McGinn fired in a shot that flew inches wide, with referee Carl Berry signalling for a goal kick even though it appeared to deflect off a defender, and Alexander headed powerfully straight at Flinders when an inch either side would have seen the net bulge.

McGinn could have given Brentford the lead when he picked up a loose past and sped in to the penalty area, but he fired a left foot shot in to the side netting from an increasingly tight angle.

Hartlepool seemed to have weathered the storm as half time approached - Lee held on to a weak Monkhouse chip and James Brown, looking suspiciously offside, fired across the face of goal when a free kick was half cleared.

Shaleum Logan and Legge almost presented the visitors with a goal when they lost the ball on the edge of their own penalty area - Monkhouse fed James Poole but Logan recovered to make a block.

Sweeney made an important tackle to prevent Diagouraga bursting through at the end of the first half and Flinders held a Saunders free kick early in the second as Brentford continued to hold the upper hand.

The Bees almost opened Hartlepool up when Donaldson sped down the right, his cross was just too high for Diagouraga and Alexander, who had played the initial pass, volleyed over.

McGinn had a shot blocked, with Diagouraga blazing the loose ball over, and Peter Hartley made a vital headed clearance to stop Alexander nodding in Donaldson's flick.

Alexander diverted a Jake Bidwell cross wide on the stretch as Brentford continued to knock at the door while a poor Poole lob was all the visitors offered in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

But they improved as the second period wore on and had chances to take the lead.

Monkhouse shot wide before Harlee Dean made a superb tackle to stop Poole going clean through.

Substitute Adam Boyd had two excellent chances with 20 minutes remaining - first Logan made a superb far post tackle to stop him converting a cross from the offside looking Gary Liddle, then he nodded over the resulting corner from inside the six yard box.

Saunders curled a free kick into a defensive wall as time started to run out for Brentford and Diagouraga was tackled as he attempted to fire home the loose ball.

Finally, the goal Brentford craved, and deserved, came with ten minutes left - Donaldson flicked on a Lee goal kick and McGinn raced on to it, his lob shouldn't have had enough elevation to beat Flinders but the goalkeeper let it through his grasp and it rolled in.

And all of a sudden, the game went crazy.

Hartlepool were level within two minutes when a Brentford failed to clear a free kick and Sam Collins curled in a shot from 25 yards that bounced past Lee and in to the net.

Brentford, however, roared straight back - Logan played a ball forward from the kick off, Alexander nodded down and Sweeney brought down Diagouraga just inside the penalty area.

Flinders appeared as if he had redeemed himself when he pushed away Alexander's penalty but the striker reacted quickest when the ball bounced loose to lash home.

Donaldson had a shot deflected wide but the visitors applied late pressure.

Evan Horwood missed the target from distance and Legge made an exceptional block to deny Monkhouse.

And that proved to be enough for Brentford to take the points.

Brentford: Lee; Logan, Legge, Dean, Bidwell; McGinn, Douglas, Diagouraga, Saunders (sub Bean 86 mins); Donaldson, Alexander

Subs (not used): Eger, Oyeleke, Weston, Grella

Bookings: Donaldson (86 mins)

Hartlepool United: Flinders; Austin, Collins, Hartley, Horwood; Brown (sub Boyd 62 mins), Sweeney, Liddle (sub Luscombe 87 mins), Murray (sub Solano 82 mins), Monkhouse; Poole

Subs (not used): Rafferty, Haslam

Bookings: Liddle (13 mins), Hartley (86 mins)

Attendance: 6,352 (266 away fans)

By Chris Wickham

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