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Brentford produced a performance to be proud of against Chelsea on Sunday, running the Champions of Europe close and rightfully earning a replay at Stamford Bridge. The Bees twice took the lead, and it needed world class finishing by Osca and Torres to keep the Blues in the Cup.

If there were fears among Bees fans that the occasion would overwhelm the home players they needn’t have worried – the Reds stepped up to the plate and refused to let the magnitude of the opposition affect their game plan.

There were manful performances all over the pitch, with Jonathan Douglas standing out as he covered every blade of Griffin Park grass. Chances were few and far between early on, but as it became clear that Chelsea weren’t going to wipe the floor with Brentford, confidence started to build – with Harry Forrester becoming more and more of a threat.

And it was from one of Forrester’s shots that Brentford took the lead – the Bees won the ball back in midfield from Lampard before Harry curled a shot that Turnbull could only parry into the path of Trotta… The Fulham loanee making no mistake as he lashed the awkward re-bound into the net… Griffin Park erupted and the Bees were one up at the break.

Chelsea started the second period brighter, and duly equalized with five minutes played – the Bees lost the ball out wide as the tried to play themselves out of trouble allowing Osca to produced a moment of class as he found the top corner with the outside of his boot.

But Brentford fought back once again and home fans were in dreamland once more with a little over a quarter of an hour to go – Donaldson slipped a lovely ball through to Tom Adeyemi, who had come on for Trotta, but as he was about to round Turnbull, the Chelsea ‘keeper wiped him out – the ref having no hesitation in pointing straight to the spot.

Harry Forrester, who’d had a penalty saved in the previous round against Southend United, stepped up, and while fans all around me buried heads in hands, unable to look, the composed youngster made no mistake this time and Brentford could taste victory. Never have I wanted a clock to move so quickly – Chelsea were struggling at that stage and an upset looked on the cards as Bertrand headed wide when it looked odds-on he’d score, but it was the introduction of Demba Ba that helped save the Blues from humiliation.

The former Newcastle striker somehow found Fernando Torres with an outstretched leg as he fell under a challenge and the World Cup winner curled a stunner into the Ealing road end net, then preceded to ‘shush’ the home fans. “He scores once a year, Fernando Torres, he scores once a year…” was he witty response from the Bees faithful!

Brentford then had the referee to thank for finishing on equal terms, the official ignoring what most fans will acknowledge was a clear hand-ball in the area by Harlee Dean – Mata’s cross deflecting off the Bees defender’s arm. It would have been a harsh decision, but we’ve seen them given, so there was relief all around as the final whistle blew.

Brentford had gone close and produced a fantastic display, while Chelsea had just enough quality on the day to earn them a chance to put things right on their own patch in a fortnight’s time. Almost, but not quite, but a superb afternoon none-the-less.

Stamford Bridge here we come.


Dave Lane