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16 March 2013

Saunders scores late winner

Sam Saunders smashed home a stoppage time penalty to give Brentford a 1-0 win over Preston North End.

It looked as if The Bees would be frustrated by a well-organised Preston side and their goalkeeper Declan Rudd, the busiest man on the pitch for long periods.

But referee Gavin Ward pointed to the spot with 93 minutes on the clock and Saunders did the rest.

Preston started with attacking intent – Simon Moore made an early save from Jack King and a Joe Garner effort was blocked – but they were pushed back for long stages by Brentford.

The Bees started with three central midfield players and Saunders in behind the strikers and dominated proceedings.

They did not give Preston any time in possession, won the second ball and got men in to the box when attacking.

They created a number of good openings and Rudd was overworked in the early stages.

He saved a Saunders effort and then tipped a deflected Clayton Donaldson shot over the top.

Harlee Dean headed wide and then had a stinging volley saved by Rudd before the goalkeeper denied Saunders again.

He made a fine low stop at his near post from a fierce Donaldson effort before Toumani Diagouraga shot wide.

Dean headed a corner over and Rudd scrambled a Saunders shot just wide as Brentford took charge.

Nicky Wroe had a shot blocked on a rare Preston attack, and Lee Holmes shot in to the side netting after a quick break, but it was almost all Brentford by the midway point of the first half.

Rudd had to be alert to tackle Tom Adeyemi after the midfield man bundled his way in to the box and Dean miss-hit a shot on the edge of the penalty area before Saunders missed the target with a volley.

Dean came within a whisker of putting Brentford ahead with a corner from a Saunders corner that beat Rudd but Garner cleared off the line.

Saunders curled a shot inches wide moments later while Preston reminded Brentford they could be a threat when Jack King shot wide after good work by Stuart Beavon.

The visitors would have been happier to hear the half time whistle but, if anything, the pressure intensified after the break.

Rudd just about managed to save a low cross-cum-shot from Bradley Wright-Phillips and a Diagouraga shot looked set to nestle in the top corner before Keith Keane headed it clear.

Wright-Phillips shot over after Adeyemi burst from midfield and Jonathan Douglas missed a golden chance when Dean challenged Rudd for a high ball, it dropped loose and the midfield player fired over from ten yards with the Preston goalkeeper on the floor.

The introduction of Keane at half time for Preston gave them more of a presence in midfield and once they weathered Brentford’s early second half storm, the game was more even.

John Mousinho had a long range effort for the visitors but lashed it well over

The Bees introduced Jake Bidwell and Adam Forshaw to try to spread the play to the flanks and they took control of the game once more.

They dominated possession and territory but Preston’s defence held firm and chances were limited.

Rudd tipped a curling Saunders free kick over the bar and Douglas headed wide at the far post before a Shaleum Logan cross just eluded Marcello Trotta.

Chances came late on for The Bees – Saunders shot wide from 30 yards and then curled a free kick over the top – but time was running out.

Saunders shot wide from the edge of the box after great work by Logan before the late drama.

Logan played the ball deep in to Preston territory, Dean nodded down and Saunders darted between two defenders.

Mousinho put his leg across Saunders' chest, Beavon barged him from behind, leaving Mr Ward no choice but to award the penalty.

Saunders took the responsibility and smashed it past Rudd to give The Bees the points.

Brentford: S. Moore; Logan, L. Moore, Dean, Craig (sub Bidwell 55 mins); Adeyemi (sub Forshaw 65 mins), Douglas, Diagouraga; Saunders; Donaldson, Wright-Phillips (sub Trotta 71 mins)

Subs (not used): Gounet, Reeves, Dallas, Forrester

Bookings: Diagouraga (20 mins) (fifth of season), Trotta (80 mins) (third of season), Logan (90 mins) (sixth of season), Saunders (90 mins) (fifth of season)

Preston North End: Rudd; Connolly, Huntington, Robertson, Buchanan; Holmes (sub Keane h/t), Welsh (sub Mousinho 34 mins), Wroe, Garner; King (sub Cummins 87 mins), Beavon

Subs (not used): Stuckmann, Monakana, Procter, Foster

Bookings: Buchanan (55 mins)

Attendance: 6,512 (818 away fans)

By Chris Wickham

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