Belfast Telegraph

Stuart Dallas going all out to repay Brentford's faith

By Graham Luney

Stuart Dallas will have the opportunity tonight to drive his Brentford side closer to the promised land that is Premier League football.

Middlesbrough take a one-goal lead into the second leg of their play-off semi-final but The Bees are hoping to produce a sting in the tail at the Riverside Stadium (7.45pm).

Boro triumphed 2-1 at Griffin Park last Friday but Northern Ireland international Dallas knows his side can produce a knockout blow - Carl Frampton style.

World boxing champion Frampton, a big Crusaders fan, donned a Brentford shirt on Sky Sports yesterday while his good pal and former Crues favourite Dallas looked ahead to tonight's big showdown with the winners facing either Norwich or Ipswich in the final at Wembley on Monday, May 25.

Brentford will have to beat the Teesside club for the first time since 1964 to reach the final but Dallas said: "The lads are chomping at the bit to get going again. We have performed well when the odds are stacked against us so we are capable of getting big results when we have to."

Frampton, still basking in the glory of Crusaders' first title win in 18 years, said: "Stuart has had an amazing season both at club level and for Northern Ireland where he has featured in his first competitive international (against Finland in the Euro 2016 qualifier in March). Brentford still have a great chance of making the final and they can certainly turn this tie around."

There is, of course, mutual respect between both men with Dallas adding: "What Carl has achieved in the last couple of years is incredible and he thoroughly deserves all the success that has come his way.

"I'm a good friend of Carl's and I know that to succeed like he has, it is all down to hard work and dedication."

Boro are aiming to return to the Premier League for the first time since relegation in 2009 while The Bees are looking for back-to-back promotions but have never gone up through the play-offs.

Brentford have lost only two of their last 10 games and they have lost only one of their last six away games, winning three and drawing two.

Former Coagh United ace Dallas has certainly repaid the faith Brentford boss Mark Warburton showed when he spotted Irish League talent that was worth nurturing.

Warburton was the club's sporting director when he brought Dallas to Griffin Park in 2012. "I always wanted to better myself as a young lad and kept believing that I could make it as a professional footballer," added Dallas, who signed a three-year deal at Brentford in June last year. "Brentford, Mark and Uwe Rosler gave me that chance and I will forever be grateful for that. Having come from where I have, it makes me appreciate everything that little bit more.

"They showed incredible faith to take a chance on me and bring me here to Brentford. So, it is up to me to make sure that I repay them by doing my utmost to help the club."

On tonight's battle, Warburton said: "We created lots of chances in the first leg and we have to be more clinical. Will Middlesbrough defend the lead or come out and attack to try to increase it? We don't know but we have to win the game."

Belfast Telegraph


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