Ahead of tomorrow’s game, we rewound to 1997 to take a look at a classic meeting as The Bees booked a place at Wembley for the Division Two Play-Off final.
After finishing fourth in the regular season, David Webb’s side took a narrow advantage into the Wednesday night showdown at Griffin Park thanks to goals from Paul Smith and Robert Taylor in the West Country four days earlier. That win at Ashton Gate had been The Bees first in five games and Brentford fans' nerves were tested back on home soli as Darren Barnard levelled the tie four minutes after the break with a fine finish.
However, in front of an expectant, bumper crowd of nearly 10,000, The Bees hit back. Taylor restored the advantage midway through the second-half with an unstoppable finish into the top corner and Marcus Bent made the game safe inside the final quarter of an hour with a clinical, low strike.
11 days later The Bees walked out at Wembley to face Crewe Alexandra in front of a crowd of more than 34,000. The Railwaymen had done the double over Webb’s side in the regular season and they were again the ones celebrating thanks to a single first-half goal from Shaun Smith.
As so often with near-misses, the Brentford side was picked apart in the wake of a Wembley defeat with Carl Asaba, Brian Statham, and Brian Ashby all departing swiftly after. The two goalscorers that night at Griffin Park, Taylor and Bent, had also both left by the time The Bees were relegated to Division Three 12 months later.
As for those two Bees heroes that night, Taylor was back at Wembley in 1999 with Gillingham as they lost out to Manchester City in the Division Two Play-Off final. Six months later he signed for City and also had spells at Wolverhampton Wanderers, QPR, Grimsby Town, and Scunthorpe United before retiring in 2004. After moving into non-league management, Taylor formed his own Football Agency in 2016.
Still aged just 19, Bent left Griffin Park in January 1998 to join Crystal Palace under Steve Coppell. Financial troubles saw Palace sell him to Port Vale a year later but it wasn’t until he left for Sheffield United that he began to fulfil his talent. He was The Blades top scorer during the 1999-2000 season and hit 11 goals as Blackburn Rovers were promoted to the Premier League in 2001. Spells in the top flight with Ipswich Town, Leicester City, Everton, Charlton Athletic, and Wigan Athletic followed before retirement in 2012 with 574 professional appearances and 113 goals to his name.