Potters break Cardiff hoodoo
By Simon Fudge. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
STOKE CITY have won the Division Two promotion play-off final with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Brentford at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and by doing so, they become the first side to win a major final occupying the South Stand dressing room.
The bad fortune that went with clubs using the dressing room failed to bother Gudjon Thordarson's side, whose first-half performance was enough to take the Britannia Stadium club into Division One next season.
Former Derby County striker Deon Burton scored the opening goal while a Ben Burgess own-goal just before half-time killed off the West London side, who miss out on promotion at the final hurdle for the second time this season, after Reading beat them at Griffin Park to pass The Bees for the second automatic promotion spot.
A lively start saw both sides prepared to push forward and Brentford had a half-chance very early on, when Burgess blasted a shot over the bar from cut-back pass in Stoke's penalty box.
Both sides exchanged shots on goal and some even play in the early stages of the first half before The Potters started to command more of the possession.
With a quarter of an hour gone, a Stoke corner found the head of Chris Iwelumo at the near post, whose flick found Burton and unmarked, he slammed the ball home past The Bees goalkeeper Paul Smith and a host of defenders to make it 1-0.
The goal livened play up a bit and Steve Coppell's side went close with chances from Burgess and especially midfielder Steve Sidwell, whose half-volley from the top of Stoke's box went inches wide of post and bar.
The Potters showed some excellent skill and touch when in possession, with midfielder Arnar Gunnlaugsson going close with a fine run to beat Brentford's Paul Evans, then see his shot go just wide of Smith's goal from 20 yards out.
Stoke were showing more quality and control in the first half and that advantage would pay off before the half-time.
With The Potters earning a free-kick on the left of Brentford's goal, Bjarni Gudjonsson curled the set-piece in and Burgess unluckily flicked the ball past his own keeper Smith for an own-goal to give Stoke a 2-0 lead.
Gudjon Thordarson's side went close to making three when midfielder James O'Connor struck a stinging shot from 20 yards out that a diving Smith blocked but saw the ball rebound up and over the bar to the relief of the Griffin Park support.
The half-time whistle brought an end to a match controlled by the Britannia Stadium side and Brentford failing to penetrate the Stoke back-line, with striker Lloyd Owusu being kept especially quiet.
However, Steve Coppell's half-time talk must have had some affect on his charges and Brentford showed more purpose after the restart, pressuring the Stoke back-line and their goalkeeper Neil Cutler.
However, unlike Stoke's fortune in the first half, The Bees were let down by their final touch around Stoke's penalty box, especially with The Potters marking very deep in their own end.
Brentford's best chance of the match came from their top striker Owusu, who looked more dangerous after the break, when got on the end of a ball around Stoke's six-yard box but Cutler came out well to block the shot away to safety.
The Bees were desperate to get back into the match and with Stoke sitting back on their two goal lead, Cutler had to be called on again to make another big save.
A cross from the right found unmarked substitute striker Mark McCammon, whose header down hit Cutler in the side of his torso and The Potters keeper held on to the loose ball, as Brentford players looked in disbelief that they had not scored.
The Bees got one more chance late on from Darren Powell but Cutler stopped his shot for a corner and Stoke held on for the final whistle, as the Britannia Stadium club's supporters started to celebrate a well-deserved victory and ponder life in Division One next season.
Division Two play-off final
For the match summary click below
Brentford 0-2 Stoke