Late penalty leaves tie all square
Kevin O’Connor converted a stoppage time penalty to leave Brentford’s npower League One Play-Off Semi-Final against Swindon Town all square after the First Leg.
Massimo Luongo, who scored the opening goal of the tie, curling in a shot from the edge of the penalty area, conceded the penalty that Club Captain O’Connor struck home in the 94th minute.
The home side might have just about deserved the win on the balance of play but Brentford ended the game well and found a leveller.
The 1-1 First Leg score leaves all to play for in the Second Leg at Griffin Park on Monday.
Swindon had their first sight of goal within the opening 30 seconds – Adam Rooney went away on the left as Jonathan Douglas was taken out off the ball by Andy Williams and fired in a shot that was blocked.
The ball didn’t get far and Nathan Byrne delivered a cross-cum-shot that Simon Moore held on to.
But the start was a little misleading in terms of the pattern of the game.
The first 20 minutes were extremely scrappy, the wind making it difficult to play the ball any distance with control and with both teams pressing high up the pitch, a midfield battle ensued.
The home side probably had slightly the better of it but Moore was not overworked.
A Luongo volley was blocked and a deflected Gary Roberts shot curled narrowly wide before Joe Devera’s effort was blocked.
Brentford had not had an effort of note in the first quarter but when they created one, it was gilt-edged.
Clayton Donaldson won the ball in midfield and Bradley Wright-Phillips set Adam Forshaw clear, the midfield man had only Wes Foderingham to beat but pulled his shot wide of the far post.
There was an equally good opening at the other end when Williams’ flick set Adam Rooney away but Moore rushed out and the striker’s shot was saved.
Moore gathered a Williams header soon after and Douglas fired over at the other end before a Lee Hodson shot was blocked.
The game continued to be tight in to the second half and there were few decent chances.
Moore saved a bouncing Luongo shot and Adam Rooney flicked a header wide before Wes Foderingham saved at the feet of Shaleum Logan at the other end.,
Alan McCormack shot wide for the hosts, who were still slightly on top.
The first goal of the tie came 70 minutes in – Simon Ferry worked the ball inside and Luongo curled a shot from the edge of the penalty area out of the reach of Moore and in to the bottom corner.
That gave the hosts a boost and O’Connor had to make a vital tackle to deny Adam Rooney before blocking another effort from the Swindon striker.
Luongo fired over for the home side but The Bees, who brought on Farid El Alagui, Harry Forrester and Sam Saunders late on, ended well.
El Alagui almost equalised when he danced through, only for McCormack to come back and make a vital tackle and a Forrester shot deflected wide soon after.
Harlee Dean headed over as Brentford pressed and Swindon started to look rattled.
The penalty came when they couldn’t clear their lines, Douglas fed Forrester and he was chopped down by Luongo.
O’Connor stepped up and beat Foderingham all ends up to level the tie.
Swindon almost stole it when Williams got in behind straight from kick off but he lifted the ball over.
Referee Geoff Eltringham brought proceedings to a close seconds later to leave the tie intriguingly poised at the midway point.
Swindon Town: Foderingham; Devera, Flint, Ward, Byrne; Ferry (sub Collins 82 mins), McCormack, Luongo, Roberts; Williams, A. Rooney
Subs (not used): Bedwell, Navarro, L. Rooney, Miller, Storey, Devita
Bookings: Roberts (45 mins)
Brentford: Moore; Logan, Dean, O’Connor, Bidwell; Hodson (sub Forrester 77 mins), Douglas, Adeyemi, Forshaw (sub Saunders 82 mins); Wright-Phillips (sub El Alagui 68 mins), Donaldson
Subs (not used): Gounet, Reeves, Diagouraga, Trotta
Attendance: 10,595 (1,592 Bees fans)
By Chris Wickham