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npower League 1 Play-Off Final preview

17 May 2013


A place in the npower Championship is the prize for either Brentford or Yeovil Town when the two sides meet in Sunday's npower League 1 Play-Off Final at Wembley Stadium.

The Glovers were arguably this season's surprise-package, they have gone  from a 17th-placed finish last term to being just one match away from the Championship. And it's the form they found in the latter half of the campaign that positioned them amongst the division's front-runners.

Gary Johnson's men lost just four league games since the turn of the year but had to come from behind to overcome Sheffield United in their Play-Off semi-final. The Blades won the first leg 1-0 at Bramall Lane but the Glovers turned the tie on its head with a 2-0 victory at Huish Park to secure a place in Sunday's Final.

Manager Johnson has been keen to stress his team must stay united and keep one step ahead of Brentford, not only at the national stadium but in the build-up to the big day.

"The preparation is good," the former Bristol City boss told the Western Daily. "We worked hard on our preparation up to the Sheffield United game and we made sure that we left no stone unturned for this one.

"We know Brentford will do the same because that's their strength as well, so we have got to respect the opposition and make sure that if they train for an hour, we train for an hour and a half.

"If they train once a day, we train twice a day. It's about making sure we stay ahead of them when we can but at the end of the day it will be down to the mentality of the players on Sunday, showing the commitment that's needed at Wembley to go and win a Final.

"We do a lot of psychological things in the build-up to the games, it's pretty heavy stuff at times but so far, so good."

The Bees were in and around the top of the division since the early stages of the season and were just a penalty away from securing an automatic promotion spot.

On the final day of the season, Uwe Rosler's side met Doncaster Rovers with a place in the top two up for grabs. They had the chance to take the three points which would have secured Championship status with a 90th-minute spot-kick but Marcello Trotta smashed the ball against the bar from 12 yards. Rovers then went down the other end and scored to win promotion, and the League 1 title.

The Bees came back from that gut-wrenching defeat, securing a place in Sunday's Final, by overcoming Swindon Town on penalties following a 1-1 stalemate at the County Ground and a thrilling 3-3 draw at Griffin Park.

The Doncaster heartbreak may have derailed other teams' promotion push, but Brentford midfielder Sam Saunders insisted the experience has made the team stronger ahead of the Wembley Final, and that was there for all to see in the semis.

The 29-year-old told the Hounslow Chronicle: "Every time you get knocked back it makes you stronger, as a team and individuals.

"The Doncaster game was a massive disappointment for us, but we've bounced back from it and showed real spirit against Swindon to get through.

"There's a real positivity around the club and in the area at the moment. We're on the crest of a wave, so hopefully that continues."

The Bees' fortunes in the Play-Offs will not fill their fans with confidence - they were beaten by Crewe Alexandra at Wembley in 1997 before suffering the same fate five years later against Stoke City in Cardiff.

The current squad aren't too worried about past experiences though, and Kevin O'Connor believes this could be the year to end their hoodoo.

The Brentford captain told the Hounslow Chronicle: "We've got to break the run some time, why not this time?

"We've got as good a chance as any and we've got a top quality squad so hopefully we can do it.

"I think the last Final was 2002, under Steve Coppell, so it's a different team and a different manager. We'll be going there full of confidence."


Yeovil Town will approach the Wembley showdown with a spring in their step having done the double over Brentford this season.

The two sides met in the second league fixture of the campaign, and the Glovers ran out 3-1 winners at Griffin Park courtesy of a James Hayter brace.

The reverse fixture at Huish Park in early February saw Yeovil pick up another three points with goals from Paddy Madden, Ed Upson and Dan Burn condemning the Bees to their biggest league defeat of the season.

With Yeovil not entering The Football League until 2003, the first three meetings between the sides before then came in the FA Cup. Brentford won a 1966 clash 2-1 and the Glovers won by the same margin seven years later, while their 1990 encounter saw the biggest margin of victory in the fixture, with Brentford drumming the Somerset outfit 5-0.

The two clubs have faced each other on a regular basis since 2005 with most being tight affairs - the sides have only been separated by more than a single goal in a league fixture on three occasions prior to this season.

Overall, the Glovers have recorded nine wins, whilst the Bees have picked up five. Only two games between the sides have ended level.

For all the latest news on Brentford please click here

For all the latest news on Yeovil Town please click here

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