Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

11 Years on, O'Connor Is Ready to Bury Bitter Memory of Final-Day Shoot-Out

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

11 Years on, O'Connor Is Ready to Bury Bitter Memory of Final-Day Shoot-Out

Article excerpt

Byline: Giuseppe Muro Football Correspondent

BRENTFORD have been here before. Victory on the final day of the season will win them promotion but a draw or a defeat will consign them to the play-offs.

A place in English football's second tier is the prize against Doncaster tomorrow, just as it was when Reading came to Griffin Park on the last day of the 2001-02 season.

"It was exactly the same scenario," said Brentford captain Kevin O'Connor, who was an unused 20-year-old substitute that day. "They were one point ahead of us and needed a draw and we needed to win. It was a one-game shoot out, just like tomorrow."

Starting the day in third place with promotion to Division One in their sights, Brentford took a deserved lead early in the second half through Martin Rowlands.

"The place erupted," said O'Connor. "The atmosphere was amazing but they equalised and that is how it stayed. I can still remember Reading fans celebrating on the pitch. I certainly do not want to feel like that again.

"A few of the lads have asked about it and I have told them what it was like and that they do not want to ever feel like that. So we can use that experience as a positive."

Brentford, managed at the time by Steve Coppell, went on to beat Huddersfield in the Division Two play-off semi-finals before losing against Stoke in the final. Reading, who had recently moved to the Madejski Stadium, were in the Premier League within five seasons and O'Connor says Brentford can follow the same path.

The Bees want to move to a new 15,000-capacity stadium by 2016 and O'Connor believes the club are moving in the right direction under manager Uwe Rosler.

"You saw what happened to Reading," said O'Connor, a lifelong Brentford supporter who has made 485 appearances for the club since his debut in 2000.

"We have got a new stadium on the horizon, while the infrastructure of the club, with the academy and other things, is all set up to go into the Championship and beyond. …

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