Greg Dyke, Brentford's chairman, had a feeling that, this season, his team would end their unhappy sequence of five failures, to progress from the League One play-offs. Within a quarter of an hour of yesterday's semi-final second leg it was clear that the former BBC director general's confidence was misplaced, as Swansea established a two-goal lead that ultimately saw them through to the final on 27 May, when they will meet the winner of today's tie between Huddersfield and Barnsley.
Two sweetly taken goals from Leon Knight, signed from Brighton in January in what looks a huge bargain at £125,000, reduced Brentford to a collection of hopeful huffers and puffers for the rest of the game. The home side were not helped by the absence through injury of their leading scorer, Lloyd Owusu and fellow forward, Marcus Gayle, but Swansea looked the slicker, smarter team throughout.
It is one of the game's ironies that the play-offs were thought up by a predecessor of Dyke's at Griffin Park, Martin Lange. Since beginning 20 years ago, they have been nothing but a torment to Brentford.
Brentford's manager, Martin Allen, the former West Ham and Queen's Park Rangers midfielder, grew increasingly frantic, as his men laboured in vain, being reduced eventually to simply waving them forwards. Afterwards, hoarse and shattered, Allen confessed he had no plans in place for the next few days, so convinced was he his side would win. "When we got to the play-offs last season I think we were just glad to be there," he said. "But this time there was a very different feeling. I thought we would win. I expected we would win."
Having drawn 1-1 at Swansea, Brentford appeared to have done the hard part of their job, but they soon succumbed to the pattern of this season's play-offs, which has so far seen no home side victorious.
Brentford's hopes began to falter after just seven minutes when a free-kick, taken by the visiting goalkeeper Willy Gueret, bounced over Swansea's Rory Fallon and his marker, Sam Sodje, and was lobbed over the Brentford keeper, Stuart Nelson, by Knight, who reached the ball just before the home centre-half Michael Turner.
Seven minutes later the lead doubled, after Brentford's left-back, Andy Frampton, gave the ball away to Leon Britton, and the Swansea midfielder's swift pass behind the Brentford defence was deftly controlled by Knight, who drove the ball high into the corner of the net.
Goals: Knight (0-1) 8; Knight (0-2) 15.
Brentford (4-4-2): Nelson; O'Connor, Sodje, Turner, Frampton (Tillen, h-t); Smith (Brooker, h-t), Pratley, Newman (Willock, 23), Tabb; Rankin, Rhodes. Substitutes not used: Hutchinson, Bankole.
Swansea City (4-4-2): Gueret; Tate, Monk, Austin, Ricketts; Britton, O'Leary, Jones, Robinson (Williams, 73); Fallon (Trundle, 84), Knight (Forbes, 67). Substitutes not used: Akinfenwa, Murphy.
Referee: G Laws (Tyne & Wear).
Booked: Swansea Robinson, Fallon; Brentford Rankin 45.
Man of the match: Knight.
Progress of the play-offs
* CHAMPIONSHIP Final Leeds v Watford
(Millennium Stadium, 21 May, 15.00)
* LEAGUE ONE Semi-final, second leg Huddersfield v Barnsley
Final Swansea v Huddersfield or Barnsley
(Millennium Stadium, 27 May, 15.00)
* LEAGUE TWO Semi-finals, second legs
Grimsby v Lincoln
Cheltenham v Wycombe
Final Grimsby or Lincoln v Cheltenham or Wycombe
(Millennium Stadium, 28 May, 15.00)Reuse content