Brilliant Brentford earned their right to host Chelsea in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup after producing an outstanding display under the Griffin Park floodlights – and on another night would have run up a cricket score. If it wasn’t for an inspired goalkeeping display by former Bees ‘keeper Paul Smith, who literally prevented his side from being pummeled into submission by producing a dozen or so first-class saves, including Harry Forrester’s second-half penalty, the Shripmers would have been absolutely thrashed.
After a slow start to the game, where both sides looked edgy, Brentford started to impose their game, and it soon became clear that the Reds were in no mood for an upset or to miss out at the chance of scalping Chelsea.
Wave after wave of attacks had led save after save by Smith, meaning those around me were clearly starting to ask if it was ‘going to be one of those nights’, but the pressure finally told when Hodson’s deep cross from the right was met by Paul Hayes at the far post, and Griffin Park erupted.
Southend had the chance to level shortly afterwards, but a point-blank save from Moore, then a glaring miss by Straker, let us off the hook. The scare didn’t rattle the Reds one little bit; Harry Forrester was enjoying one of his best games, causing all kinds of problems. One run on particular was outstanding, collecting the ball on the half-way line, taking on all-comers, then forcing a world-class save from Smith. Stunning.
The second period saw more of the same… The Bees on the attack and the Shrimpers holding on for dear life, with Smith to thank. Clayton Donaldson drew a foul in the area, which presented the perfect chance to double the lead, but Forrester’s spot-kick was tipped to safety (http://youtu.be/dwiWdEE_4kE).
United equalized with 20 minutes to go, Corr (again) finding himself unmarked in the area and able to head home, and although there were a few sharp intakes of breath, Brentford were not to be denied.
It was clear that it was going to take a deflection to beat Smith, anything other than an unexpected deviation was getting saved, and it was Donaldson who produced the killer goal. Lurking unmarked on the half-way line he sprung the off-side trap and, latching onto the perfect through-ball, let rip from 12 yards, the ball taking a critical touch off a defender and flying past Smith, who could do nothing.
Five minutes of injury time meant some edgy moments as Southend upped the pressure, but the referee’s whistle finally sounded and Brentford had secured one of the most one-sided narrow wins I can remember.
The Bees were outstanding.