Football: Brentford seize the initiative

Bristol City 1 Brentford 2
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Bristol City have been left with a mountain to climb after Brentford won the first leg of a niggly Second Division play-off semi-final at Ashton Gate yesterday which saw Brentford's leading scorer, Carl Asaba, sent off five minutes from time for a second bookable offence.

Paul Smith gave Brentford the lead in the 13th minute after a header from City's Rob Edwards had landed at his feet. Gary Owers equalised for City after 28 minutes, rising at the far post to head Paul Allen's deep cross into the net. However, within two minutes, a header from Bob Taylor restored the Bees' lead, which could prove crucial in Wednesday's second leg.

In the second half Brentford set out to defend their lead on a wet, skiddy surface. City sent on all three substitutes in a powerful but ultimately unsuccessful bid to draw level, Allen coming closest to an equaliser.

The result may go some way towards restoring the smile to the face of David Webb, the Brentford manager. Webb has publicly stated his hatred of the play-off system ever since Brentford failed two seasons ago after leading the Second Division for much of the season. Webb also threatened to resign earlier this season, following criticism from supporters.

Goals: Smith (13) 0-1; Owers (28) 1-1; Taylor (30) 2-1.

Bristol City: Welch; Owers, Barnard, Shail, Paterson, Edwards, Hewlett (Tinnion, 56), Allen, Nugent (Agostino, 68), Goater, Kuhl (Carey, 75).

Brentford: Dearden; Hurdle, Anderson, Hutchings, Bates, McGhee, Asaba, Smith, Bent, Statham, Taylor. Substitutes not used: Canham, Fernandes, Dennis.

Referee: U Rennie (Sheffield).

Booked: Bristol City: Owers, Shail. Brentford: Hurdle. Sent off: Asaba.

Attendance: 15,581.