It is one thing for a Premier League club to be given a Carling Cup chasing by a team two divisions below them when they have sent the reserves out, it is another entirely when the bulk of the first team are on duty. That was Everton's fate last night as their stuttering season plunged towards crisis at Griffin Park.
David Moyes admitted his anxiety after Brentford, 19th in League One, had despatched his team on penalties. Everton are in the Premier League's relegation zone with two points from five matches and the Scot said: "I have a job on now to lift the players. This is where I have to manage."
Moyes, who was dragged away after the final whistle by Mikael Arteta from a confrontation with an supporter who he had seen throw a bottle, said he was happy with the performance, but finishing, Everton's weakness this season, had let them down again. "We had the opportunities to put the game to bed in the first 20 minutes," he said. "I can't count how many we had."
That was true, but the remaining 100 minutes was too evenly matched for Evertonian comfort. Jermaine Beckford and Phil Jagielka were the unfortunates who failed in the spot-kick lottery but so ordinary were Everton they could have been beaten in normal time had Brentford's Charlie MacDonald been as deadly from 12 yards then as he was in the shoot-out.
MacDonald had a penalty saved shortly before the hour mark after Myles Weston, who troubled Seamus Coleman all night, had been felled by the young Irishman. Everton failed to take advantage of the reprieve, just as they failed to kick on after going ahead through Coleman after just four minutes. Brentford were able to level through Gary Alexander just before the break. From then on, though Everton did create the better chances, there was little between the teams.
If it was another bad night for Moyes it was a memorable one for Andy Scott, Brentford's young manager, and, in particular, Richard Lee. The latter was signed from Watford in the summer but his pre-season was so poor Scott signed Ben Hamer on loan from Reading. Hamer, however, was cup-tied, so Lee was given his Brentford debut.
He responded magnificently. During normal time he made a series of saves, notably from Aiyegbeni Yakubu. In extra-time he brilliantly denied Arteta. Then in the shoot-out he saved from Beckford before Jagielka hit the post.
"Richard showed what a good goalkeeper he is and why we brought him to the club," said Scott. "He's had a bit of a stop-start time of it, but he's not sulked, he's worked very hard in training. I'm delighted for him. Before the shoot-out I told him 'you've been outstanding, now go and finish it off."
The one goal that beat him followed a Brentford corner, Leon Osman led a counter-attack and though Yakubu shot poorly, the ball ran, via Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, to Coleman whose finish was that of a striker.
Over the next 20 minutes Everton, and Yakubu in particular, should have made the tie safe but either their finishing was poor or Lee denied them. When he was beaten, by Marouane Fellaini at the near post after 36 minutes, the post intervened. Brentford had by then begun to believe with Myles Weston confirming the suspicion that Coleman, like many a modern full-back, is better going forward than he is defending. After being denied a penalty when he beat Coleman before tangling with Bilyaletdinov he supplied the cross which Alexander headed in.
Weston continued to be a menace and did win a penalty when Coleman pulled him down after 58 minutes. MacDonald's kick was saved by Jan Mucha and, from the resulting corner, he hit the post.
Moyes reluctantly summoned the heavy artillery, calling Arteta and Francois Pienaar from the bench. They added craft, and twice combined to stretch Lee, but could not make the difference. Lee denied Yakubu at close range and Weston cleared a Distin header off the line but extra-time, then penalties, ensued.
"I had eight people wanting to take the penalties," said Scott. "That shows the character of the boys. We've not received the credit we deserve over the last couple of years, I hope we do now."
Brentford (4-4-2): Lee; Spillane, Osborne, Balkestein, Woodman, Adams (Saunders, 68), O'Connor, Diagouraga, Weston, MacDonald, Alexander (Forster, 73). Substitutes not used Royce (gk), Bean, Cort, Wood, Legge.
Everton (4-2-3-1): Mucha, Coleman, Distin, Jagielka, Baines, Bilyaletdinov (Arteta, 68), Neville, Fellaini, Gueye (Pienaar, 67), Osman, Yakubu (Beckford, 98). Substitutes not used Howard, Silva, Mustafi, Barkley.
Man of the match Weston
Referee M Oliver (Northumberland)
Match rating 8/10.Reuse content