Brentford are set for another historic evening on Tuesday when we play the first major semi-final in the club’s 131-year history.
Recent years have seen semis in the Freight Rover Trophy/Leyland DAF Trophy/Johnstone’s Paint Trophy – but they pale into comparison with reaching the last four of the FA Cup or League Cup.
The Bees have reached the FA Cup quarter-finals four times – the most recent of those being in 1988/89 – but our previous best run in the League Cup was to the fourth round twice, in 1982/83 and 2010/11, when we were in the third tier and our opponents each time in the top flight.
BRENTFORD’S BIG LEAGUE CUP MATCHES
Brentford’s League Cup record over the years is quite frankly miserable.
We have only passed the second round on seven occasions in the whole of the competition’s 60-year history before this season – going out in round one 28 times and the second round 25 times.
We have reached the third round five times, including twice in the past three seasons, but this season’s run has, to say the least, been a very pleasant surprise.
The two fourth round appearances mentioned above have both been away from home.
In 1982/83, the fourth round tie at Nottingham Forest was our seventh game in the competition, following two-legged wins over Wimbledon and Blackburn, and the famous third round replay victory over then First Division Swansea.
This set up the tie at the City Ground against a club which had won the European Cup (now Champions League) only two years previously. A young Matthew Benham reportedly bunked off school to be among a healthy away support, but the tie proved a step too far for the Bees as we went down to a 2-0 defeat.
The second time was much more recently – in 2010/11 at Birmingham.
Again Brentford reached round four after pulling off a giant-killing – beating Everton 4-3 on penalties following a 1-1 draw, after single-game wins over Cheltenham and Hull in the first two rounds.
We were so close to reaching the fifth round for the first time after Sam Wood put us ahead midway through the second half at St Andrews. But Kevin Phillips equalised deep into stoppage-time and, after extra-time, we faced another penalty shoot-out. However, this time the 4-3 scoreline on spot-kicks went against us and we lost to a Blues side which ended up winning the trophy.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
Brentford and Spurs have not met many times over the years – and more of the games where we have played each other have been in cup competitions, especially the League Cup, than in the league.
We were drawn together three times in this competition in nine seasons from the early 90s in two-legged second round ties, with Spurs winning five of the legs and the other one being drawn.
The first of those ties, in September 1992, came just after we had won promotion to the second tier. Teddy Sheringham put Spurs ahead at White Hart Lane, but Gary Blissett memorably equalised before Kevin Watson and Gordon Durie wrapped up a 3-1 win for the hosts.
The second leg appeared a formality and so it proved, as Spurs won 4-2 at Griffin Park for a 7-3 aggregate success.
Early goals from Darren Anderton, with a penalty, and Teddy Sheringham, killed off any chance of a shock. Gary Blissett replied before Andy Turner and Sheringham, with his second, made it 4-1 on the night. Keith Millen scored a late consolation for the Bees.
Things were much closer when we met seven years later, despite Brentford being a fourth tier club, with each match finishing 3-2 to Spurs – even though we took the lead in each leg.
This time the first leg was at Griffin Park, and Andy Scott put us ahead in the 28th minute, only for Stephen Carr to level in the 44th minute. Substitute Jose Dominguez gave Spurs the lead for the first time early in the second half, before Darren Freeman equalised, only for Ramon Vega to snatch a priceless third away goal late on.
In the return just over a week later, Andy Scott levelled the tie on aggregate after giving us a first-minute lead at White Hart Lane. But Allan Nielsen, Sol Campbell and Chris Armstrong all scored to put Spurs in control, before substitute Lloyd Owusu made the scoreline more respectable in the 74th minute. However, Spurs went through 6-4 on aggregate.
First leg highlights at 9:35 in this video, with second leg highlights at 12:38.
Spurs went on to win the competition – beating Leicester 1-0 in the final with a last-gasp goal from Allan Nielsen.
Our most recent meeting saw Spurs survive a first leg at Griffin Park which they finished with 10 men, before sealing victory back in north London.
In TW8, goalkeeper Neil Sullivan was sent off on the hour mark for bringing down Paul Evans, who was clean through, while centre-half Sol Campbell was forced off in the 35th minute with a shoulder injury.
Even though Spurs fielded new £11m signing Sergei Rebrov up front, Oli Gottskalksson kept him at bay as we earned a 0-0 draw.
In the return leg a week later, Scott Partridge missed a great chance to put us ahead early in the second half before Oyvind Leonhardsen and Steffen Iversen scored to take Spurs through 2-0 on the night and also on aggregate.
“Although we have an in-built humility that easily translates to inferiority, this side are more than capable of winning it.”
Read Jim Levack’s view on Brentford’s big night at Spurs
BRENTFORD’S FA CUP BEST
Before this season’s Carabao Cup run, the best cup run in the living memory of most Bees fans, was the one to the FA Cup quarter-finals in 1989 – the fourth time we had reached that stage.
Here are some brief highlights:
SPURS IN THE LEAGUE CUP
Spurs have won the League Cup four times.
As well as in 1998/99 – mentioned above – they lifted the trophy in 1970/71, 1972/73 and 2007/08.
In the 1971 final, they beat Aston Villa 2-0 with two late goals from Martin Chivers, and two years later, Ralph Coates hit the only goal in the 72nd minute as they beat Norwich 1-0.
The 2008 final was the first one to be played at the new rebuilt Wembley Stadium and saw Spurs take on Chelsea. Didier Drogba gave the Blues a first-half lead, but a Dimitar Berbatov penalty in the 70th minute took the game to extra-time where a Jonathan Woodgate goal earned Spurs a 2-1 victory.
That was also the last time that Spurs won a trophy.
They have also been runners-up four times in the competition – in 1981/82, 2001/02, 2008/09 and 2014/15.
BBC London commentator and presenter Phil Parry looks at how Spurs have done this season, how important it would be for them to win the trophy, and analyses Brentford’s chances of causing another cup shock.
Q – How would you assess Spurs’ season so far?
A – On the whole I would suggest that Spurs will be more than satisfied with the start to the season that they have made. A recent run without a win, including back-to-back defeats, and a couple of games where they let leads slip will have been frustrating. But in the mix at the top of the table, their front two scoring goals and a spot in a cup semi-final is a good return.
The new signings have made a positive difference to the squad and despite the fact that the head coach says that they are a pony in a race with thoroughbreds for the title, they are certainly in the mix for honours this season and serious contenders to qualify for the Champions League. They are also still in three knock-out competitions and with the fans desperate for some silverware, that goes down well too.
Q – There has been recent criticism of Spurs’ playing style – how fair has this been?
A – There have been a couple of games recently where it appeared that the side were prepared to sit on a single goal lead and as a consequence saw points lost. Jose Mourinho has joked with those asking about a conservative approach and insisted that was not the case. In six of the last 11 games, Spurs have scored more than once and they have picked up plenty of wins.
They are certainly more difficult to break down this season and have the adaptability to counter-attack. It may frustrate some when they wait to pounce and break forward, but style often only gets really questioned when the results are not positive.
Q – How important would it be for Spurs to win the Carabao Cup?
A – Jose Mourinho has always seen the League Cup as an important, it was the first trophy that he lifted in English football and he’s won it since at Manchester United. The Spurs supporters haven’t been able to celebrate silverware in over a decade, although they went mighty close in the Champions League a couple of years ago, and the last cup they celebrated winning was this one.
There are many members of the squad who have achieved great personal milestones and won accolades, but a medal on the mantelpiece to show the grandkids is priceless. For the club, the fans, the players and the coach, winning a trophy is very important, and as this one is theoretically just two wins away it will be seen as the best chance at the moment.
Q – What has Jose Mourinho done to revive Spurs since taking charge?
A – In the little over 12 months that Jose has been at Spurs, he has instilled a steeliness into the squad, giving them a real desire not to be beaten or give away goals. He has made some very astute acquisitions in the shape of Sergio Reguilon and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to plug gaps in the side that needed filling and give them added strength in depth.
He also appears to have given belief to some of the players who appeared to be on the fringes, Serge Aurier and Tanguy Ndombele have seen improvement in form over the months. Of course there is the ongoing situation with Dele Alli which is puzzling and is one to keep an eye on. He has also an inherent winning mentality and it appears that Spurs have bought into that.
Q – What do you think Brentford need to do to have a chance of adding a fifth Premier League scalp of the season?
A – The Bees have already seen off four teams from the Premier League and while this is a step up in class, with all due respect to the others, they should not play with fear. I recently saw Leicester win in north London with a disciplined and structured approach and of course getting the all-important first goal.
Thomas Frank’s side has real weaponry to ask questions of the Spurs defence and a back line which is comfortable with each other, having developed a relationship over the last season-and-a-half.
Of course Tottenham have potency up top but Harry Kane and Son-Heung Min can be kept quiet. Chelsea did if effectively at the Bridge and others have been able to keep them out. It sounds obvious, but taking the chances presented and gaining as much control of the game and its tempo would be key elements to a history-making place in the final.
Q – What do you think was the pick of the Bees’ Carabao Cup performances this season?
A – I really liked the approach at Southampton and against Fulham, where the Bees looked to impose themselves on the opponents, but the stand-out for me was the impressive way that they saw off Newcastle. Already at a stage of the competition never visited, the team were not daunted by what was on offer and actually dominated so that it appeared that they were the top-flight side.
It was a fantastic team performance, especially coming in such a busy schedule, and had all the required elements, control, energy, confidence and bravery. More of the same in the semi-final will make for a very interesting night.
Q – Judging by their line-up at Stoke, Spurs are taking this competition very seriously. Do you expect a similarly strong team against Brentford and what do you think it will be?
A – I think the importance of the game and the respect with which Jose Mourinho holds Brentford, coupled with his desire to win, will mean he will field a strong side. Next up of course for Spurs is an FA Cup tie at Marine, where some of the big hitters will be given a rest.
So I expect the likes of Kane, Lloris and Dier to be involved and while there’s a chance that some changes may be made, the addition of Alli and Moura hardly weakens them. Up front, Carlos Vinicius is itching for more football while there are defensive options at his disposal.
This is just a guess at the line-up:
Tangana Sanchez Dier Reguilon
Moura Alli Vinicius
HOW TO FOLLOW THE GAME
The match is being played behind closed doors at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at 7.45pm on Tuesday, but is being shown live on Sky Sports.
Live audio commentary is available on iFollow with Mark Burridge and Marcus Gayle with a match pass available to buy for £2.50, and there is also live commentary on BBC London Digital with Phil Parry, on BBC Radio 5 live, and on talkSPORT.