Race to the Premier League: Brentford meet Boro

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Copa90
Copa90

After finishing fifth in the Championship this season, Brentford tonight host Middlesborough in the first leg of their play-off semi-final. It has certainly been a whirlwind two weeks for the Bees, whose back-to-back wins at the end of the season helped them sneak into the playoff positions on goal difference. Many fans had ruled out the prospect of finishing in the playoff places on the last day of the season – they needed Derby to lose at home to Reading and a big win of their own – but a potentially disappointing matchday turned into one of exaltation and hope. A 3-0 Derby loss to Reading and a win of their own by the same margin against Wigan confirmed their place in the semi-final of the play-offs against fourth placed Middlesborough. And it’s at the home of Brentford, Griffin Park, where the first of their two meetings will take place. They’ll need all the help their home crowd can offer tonight, as history and form are firmly in Middlesborough’s favour…

It has been almost 70 years since Brentford last tasted top flight football in England, and promotion this year would be a huge leap for the south west London side, who only one year ago were competing in League One. As for the current season, Brentford have struggled against Middlesborough. In the two meetings between them this season, Boro are yet to concede a goal, winning 4-0 at the Riverside and 1-0 away at Griffin Park. The past meetings paint a fairly gloomy picture for the Bees, but Brentford should not be underestimated. Even though they haven’t beaten Middlesborough since 1964, they will head into these two matches with high hopes as, in a way, they feel like they can’t lose whatever happens. Their objective at the beginning of the season was to first and foremost secure Championship football for next year, and so getting into the play-off places is an extraordinary bonus to what has been an already enjoyable season. The chance to record three successive promotions is a remarkable achievement, and one that will more than motivate the Brentford players for the most important three weeks of their careers so far.

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