REPORT FROM BRENTFORD SITE
BEES END YEAR ON HIGH NOTE: BRENTFORD 1 MANSFIELD TOWN 0
Brentford gained an important three points despite being reduced to ten-men late in the match after Rowan Vine's controversial sending-off.
The forward was shown a second yellow card following a melee in The Stags penalty area, in which Mansfield player-manager Keith Curle could count himself lucky not to be dismissed for a terrible two-footed lunge on Vine. This was the only damp spot on an otherwise deserved victory. Bees boss Wally Downes made one change from the side that lost at Swindon, as Martin Rowlands inability to play two games in such a short space of time due to his longstanding groin problem meant that Mark McCammon was restored to the starting line-up, with Kevin O'Connor moving out wide.
The first-half was low-key, with Brentford creating openings through the centre of the Mansfield defence but lacking the guile to make a breakthrough. Jamie Fullarton was booked in the eleventh minute for a foul on Liam Lawrence, Referee Hegley making the first of his contentious decisions.
Mark McCammon had The Bees best chance three minutes later, but skewed the ball wide from six yards out. Zip forward to the end of the first half give or take a chance for Christie and Disley; Rowan Vine became the next man of Mr Hegley's book for a foul on Adam Eaton, which would have repercussions later in the match. Before the half came to a close, Stags midfielder Craig Disley was booked for dissent; this for protesting Wayne Corden's handball (comment from Martin - incorrect - he was booked for a fould 15 seconds earlier).
The only goal of the game came fourteen minutes after the break. Kevin O'Connor's powerful goal-bound header that eventually nestled into the back of the net. It is a perhaps a bone of contention - in The Bees dressing room at least – of who got the final touch, as Mark McCammon made sure, with a deflection beforehand thrown in for good measure too.
Whether the ball had completely crossed the line before “Big Mac” touched home will be argued long into the night, as video evidence has proved inconclusive. Not wishing to sit on the lead, Wally Downes sent on Mark Williams for O'Connor (who received a healthy pat-on-the-back from his gaffer).
The flashpoint of the whole game occurred just a minute before the end of normal time. Following the challenges from Rhys Day and Keith Curle on Vine, a melee erupted in The Stags penalty area between the two sets of players. Day was booked and Vine also, which meant The Bees top scorer walked down the tunnel four minutes earlier than his team-mates.
The final whistle sounded with Brentford worthy winners, but at a cost as another referee found himself the centre of attention.