Brentford spurn chances

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The Independent Online
BY PHIL ANDREWS

Huddersfield Town 1

Brentford 1

In any other season, Brentford, as Second Division runners-up, would have won promotion by right, rather than a ticket for the play-off lottery. But they have only themselves to blame for failing to secure the bonus prize of a visit to Wembley.

After nullifying Huddersfield's early goal with an almost identical one of their own, their offside trap closed with a satisfying snap on their opponents' predictable long-ball game. Their own more considered approach, illuminated by Nick Forster's vision and control, produced enough chances to make Wednesday's second leg at Griffin Park a formality.

But they all went begging, with Robert Taylor the main culprit. He hoisted the ball over an open goal from six yards, shot wide with only the goalkeeper, Steve Francis, to beat, and missed from point-blank range after a miskick by Gary Crosby. Francis also made a fine diving save from Denny Mundee after a typically flowing Brentford move.

They should have been made to pay for their profligacy. Huddersfield belatedly found some of the form that saw them lead the division for much of the season. Andrew Booth's shot was kicked off the line, and Kevin Dearden saved one-handed from Tom Cowan's 20-yard drive.

Fast and direct is the tactful way to describe Huddersfield's style, but it paid early dividends with Booth crossing from the right for Chris Billy to poke a left-foot shot past Dearden after only 10 minutes. Half an hour later, Paul Smith crossed from the right for Forster to equalise in similar fashion.

The Huddersfield manager, Neil Warnock, said: "It was one of the best play-off games I have seen. There was no caution on either side and it will be just as hard on Wednesday, although Brentford will start favourites."

Huddersfield Town (4-3-3): Francis; Trevitt, Sinnott, Scully, Cowan; Duxbury, Bullock, Crosby (Dunn, 77); Billy, Jepson, Booth. Substitutes not used: Dyson, Blackwell (gk).

Brentford (4-4-2): Dearden; Statham (Hutchings, 90), Bates, Ashby, Grainger; Mundee, Smith, Ratcliffe, Stephenson; Forster, Taylor. Substitutes not used: McGhee, Fernandes (gk).

Referee: S Dunn (Bristol).

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