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Considering that Brentford (1889) and Portsmouth (1898) have been around since the turn of the last century, it is probably a little surprising that the two teams have not met more often on the field of play. However, from Brentford’s viewpoint, the encounters that have been played have produced some memorable occasions – a Wembley Cup Final (1942), two record attendances at Griffin Park and two seven-goal victories!

With Portsmouth currently well and truly meriting the tag of a ‘club-in-crisis’ and, with their next stop almost certainly the basement division, who knows when the two teams will meet again? However, a look back to the last time that swords were crossed – 20 years ago – reveals another memorable match beneath the Griffin Park lights. This week Mark Croxford looks back to…

Brentford 4, Portsmouth 1  –Tuesday 1st September 1992

“Titter ye not – Up Pompey!”

That was the witty headline from the Middlesex Chronicle after Brentford’s emphatic thumping of Portsmouth in the third home game in Division One after the 1992 promotion success.

The south-coast team arrived for the match firmly ensconced as one of the favourites for promotion, having been denied a trip to Wembley for an FA Cup Final just six months earlier when they were beaten by Liverpool at the semi-final stage after losing out on penalties in a replay. Big-names Darren Anderton and John Berresford had departed for almost £3 million in the summer but they still boasted an attacking trio of Paul Walsh, Guy Whittingham and Mark Chamberlain. However, on the night Jim Smith’s team proved no match for the rampant Bees.

In the early stages it was the visitors who looked sharper and after Guy Whittingham had struck the ball against the crossbar when clean through on goal, a-la-Ronnie-Rosenthal, they took a 25th minute lead with a scrappy goal following a corner.

Brentford’s response came in the 37th minute when, following a sustained spell of pressure, a corner from Neil Smillie was met by the head of a stooping Mickey Bennett and the ball looped up and into the top right-hand corner of the net.

After the break it was all Brentford and with Billy Manuel and Simon Ratcliffe snapping and snarling in midfield and Jamie Bates at his bone-crunching-best behind them, the Bees took control.

A bizarre goal secured the lead. Neil Smillie flung himself at a cross and made contact, partly with his head and partly with his shoulder. Keeper Alan Knight stood and watched as the ball bounced, but spun almost 90 degrees and ended up in the net to the bewilderment of the bemused goalie.

Phil Holder described the goal as a ‘googly’ whilst Smillie himself was equally as surprised.

…”I don’t think I’ve ever scored a weirder one than that. I caught it with my head and shoulder, fell over and didn’t think any more of it. When I got up and saw the ball in the net I couldn’t believe it. Still, they all count and it’s not often I score with my head – or even my shoulder come to that!”

The victory was sealed with two further top quality goals. The first came from Marcus Gayle who flicked the ball into the net off the top of his head directly from Smillie’s corner and within two minutes Chris Hughton whipped over a superb cross, Mickey Bennett dummied and Gary Blissett slid in to steer home the fourth goal of the evening.

 Mark Croxford