Football: Brentford set sights on title

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The Independent Online
Brentford 4 Swansea 1

HAVING made sure of promotion on Saturday, Brentford's final home game of the season turned into quite a party at poor Swansea's expense last night. After the local folk hero Lloyd Owusu had given Brentford the lead midway through the first half with an audacious overhead kick, a game that arguably held more meaning for the Welshmen gradually became a rout as Brentford surged to the top of the Third Division.

They meet Cambridge United on Saturday in a potential title decider, but whatever happens there Ron Noades can look back on his first season in club management with justifiable pride. Ron Atkinson may believe 60 is the right age to pack it all in, but for Noades a remarkable new chapter may be only just beginning.

The former Crystal Palace chairman keeps a low profile, deflecting any credit on to his coaches, Ray Lewington and Terry Bullivant, but it matters little as long as the goals continue.

And they were in abundance last night. Swansea had arrived in west London looking for the first of five points from their remaining three fixtures that would give John Hollins a play-off place to show for his first season in charge as well as a memorable defeat of Premiership West Ham United.

Swansea's mascot, Cyril the Swan, was conspicuous by his absence from the touchline, from where he is officially banned these days, but Swansea were not lacking insupport thanks to a boisterous entourage from South Wales.

It was enough to sustain them despite Owusu's 24th goal of the season, artfully executed after Danny Boxall's long throw had skimmed off the head of defender Kris O'Leary.

Within a minute of the second half's resumption Brentford's captain, Paul Evans, doubled their lead with a thunderous drive from 25 yards.

As the game opened up gaps appeared in the Swansea defence and were exploited first by Hermann Hreidarsson, heading home from Andy Scott's free-kick, and a minute from time by Scott Partridge, breaking away from Owusu's long through ball. Tony Bird did pull one back for Swansea in injury time, but the silence that greeted it was merely a prelude to the festivities that were about to begin.

Brentford (4-4-2): Woodman; Boxall, Powell, Hreidarsson, Anderson; Mahon, Quinn, Evans, Scott (Bryan, 79); Owusu, Partridge. Substitutes not used: Oatway, Rowlands.

Swansea City (4-4-2): Freestone; Jones, Smith, Bound, Coates; Price (Howard, 37), O'Leary (Roberts, h-t), Cusack, Appleby; Alsop (Watkin, 57), Bird.

Referee: M Messias (Acomb).