Football: Allon lifts Brentford out of the mud

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The Independent Online
VS Rugby . . .0

Brentford. . .3

THE romance of the Cup has many guises and for VS Rugby merely to be putting out a team in the first round represented a fairy-tale of sorts, irrespective of the opposition.

The club went into voluntary liquidation last summer, was rescued four days before the new season began and could honour its first-day fixture only after the manager had stopped to sign three players on the way to the game.

VS won the FA Vase in 1983 and in their present circumstances a giant-killing yesterday would have sparked celebrations on a similar scale. But Brentford, unbeaten in their last seven Second Division games, were sufficiently organised to negotiate their descent into Beazer Homes League territory and overcome dreadful conditions. Two goals from Joe Allon and another from one-time England under-19 winger Marcus Gayle gave them a comfortable margin.

The pitch was passed fit - generously - after home supporters spent the morning sponging up surface water, but it was scarcely playable and most attempts to build moves along the ground ended amid flailing legs in ankle-deep puddles. It was a day for mistakes of the kind that have paved the way for many an upset but the home side found conditions working against them when full-back Tom McGinty's uncontrollable sliding tackle on Denny Mundee brought Brentford a penalty six minutes from half-time.

Allon, the pounds 275,000 former Chelsea forward, converted the kick and when Gayle glanced home Paul Stephenson's corner nine minutes after the interval, Rugby's challenge looked metaphorically washed up too.

After three failed attempts to add to his tally, Allon ran on to Martin Grainger's through pass to score Brentford's third with 11 minutes remaining. Brentford have won their last 10 encounters with non-League opponents.

Having reached a deal with the liquidator to prolong their 38-year existence, Rugby have revised their definition of survival, and 12 points ahead in their own league currently equals contentment.