Championship play-offs: Boro beat Bees despite Gray and goalie gaffe
Middlesbrough loanee and substitute Fernando Amorebieta scored his first goal for the club deep into second-half stoppage time at Griffin Park, giving the Teesside team a slender 2-1 lead in their Championship play-off semi-final with Brentford.
Bees top scorer Andy Gray profited from a rare lapse in judgment from Middlesbrough’s Greek goalie Dimitrios Konstantopoulos, statistically the best keeper during the regular second-tier season, to equalise and seemingly leave the tie in the balance.
Former Belgium striker Jelle Vossen had earlier given Aitor Karanka’s Boro a first-half lead in a thoroughly absorbing contest and excellent advert for the play-offs in west London.
Konstantopoulos had to tip an Alan Judge drive onto the angle of post and bar when the Irish winger came infield from the left, following a dominant start by Brentford and spell of possession.
After 25 minutes, Middlesbrough went ahead somewhat against the run of play through Vossen. He peeled into space, between full back Moses Odubajo and another defender, to head home Adam Clayton’s right-wing cross.
Another Odubajo error then gifted Lee Tomlin a chance to extend Boro’s lead on half an hour, but Bees keeper David Button tipped his low effort round the near post.
Vossen then thought he had doubled his tally, turning George Friend’s flick-on from a corner goalwards from point-blank range. Replays showed Button did just enough to keep all of the ball crossing the line.
James Tarkowski’s stooping set-piece header went just over for the hosts before the break, but nine minutes into the second half Brentford were level.
Konstantopoulos’ poor attempt at sweeping up in the right back position was seized upon by Gray, and he tapped into the empty net. The Greek goalie atoned thereafter with a superb clawing save to keep out a looping Jonathan Douglas header at the back post from Jota’s cross.
Prior to that, Bees frontman Gray blazed over from a tight angle, and Albert Adomah brought the best out of Button when his left-foot volley was tipped behind on the hour.
Venezuela international Amorebieta replaced Tomlin for the closing stages, and saw his strike deflect in off Jake Bidwell when Brentford failed to clear a corner in the fourth of six additional minutes to break home hearts.
Such high tempo action and drama means the return leg at the Riverside is not to be missed.