Victory over Bradford City could just turn out to be Brentford's most important win of the season.

That's the verdict of Marcus Bean, who experienced the full range of emotions from elation to fury and back again during the crazy finale to Saturday's match at Griffin Park.

Bean thought his beautifully executed low curler from the edge of the box had won it with only a minute remaining.

Then it was despair as Michael Boulding appeared to have salvaged a point for the visitors as the celebratory Bees switched off.

Few could have expected a third twist as Nathan Elder nodded home a long free-kick from Ryan Dickson deep into injury time.

There is no denying the significance of the win for Bean, who saw it as more than just three points.

It was another fine result against one of the division's top sides and was achieved with a stand-in keeper, Reading rookie Mikkel Andersen and Dickson at right-back due to Karleigh Osborne's suspension.

Injury and fitness worries kept out Adam Newton, John Halls and Marvin Williams from the starting line-up.

Dickson's duel with the effervescent Omar Daly typified the desire to muck in and get the job done.

At times he looked ill at ease on the right because his right leg is strictly for standing on. But he stuck to his task and did well not to allow one of the division's quickest players to embarrass him too much.

"It was a massive win for us - probably the most important one of the season - especially with the busy Christmas period coming up," an elated Bean told the Gazette.

"A draw wouldn't have been good enough for us. We wanted a win and now we've stamped our authority again.

"I think everyone's going to look at us and think of us and say 'hold on a bit, they are real title contenders, not play-off contenders.'"

Bean continued: "From what I've seen in this division, and we've played nearly everybody now, I think we're going to be there or thereabouts in May.

"I think there's not many better than us and we've got a great chance this year.

"We've played against all the top teams and we've always given a good showing and if not won, then drawn those games. I think we're definitely a team more suited to playing the better teams.

"What will be vital is avoiding injuries. We've got a small squad and it's important we keep all our best players fit.

"But we had important players out today and managed to do well and stay in the hunt. Ryan Dickson did really well at rightback for instance. It all bodes well for the future."

Match-winner Elder was also keen to play up the significance of victory over the Bantams.

"All of us, even the boys who are just coming in for loan spells, are really, really motivated this season," he said.

"It's going to take a lot to bring us down I think."

Bean's relief at getting the win offset any rueful feelings he may h av e e x pe r ien c ed a f t e r Saturday's win. He could so easily have been the target for all the media attention that was heaped on Elder after the final whistle.

But the modest Bean did not mind being ignored as he headed away from the dressing rooms.

It typifies the quietly understated role that Andy Scott values so highly.

"All the boys dug in really well and showed great character and it doesn't matter who gets the glory," Bean said.

"We had 11 heroes today on a difficult pitch but Nathan will take the plaudits for his header.

"He was working doubly hard to put pressure on their defensive two and gave them a torrid time. I'm glad he got a reward for all his hard graft and unselfishness.

"I was fuming when we conceded just after I'd scored. I felt we'd let ourselves down allowing them get back into the game straight away. I was really angry and upset.

"I think we just switched off and were maybe still celebrating our goal and didn't really get our blocks in.

"There were a few miskicks and it dropped to their man nicely. But the boys showed great character to bounce back."

Bean added: "I was pleased with my finish. I practice that all the time in training and it's great when it happens in a game.

"I've got a few goals in me but the way the gaffer wants to play, he puts the reins on me but I try and break free from them every now and then, although I can hear him from the sidelines saying 'Beanie, get back!'

"If I have to sit back a bit, I'm more than happy to do that, but I'm sure he had no complaints today."

Match Summary BEES (0) 2 BRADFORD CITY (0) 1 Line-up: Andersen; Dickson, Phillips, Bennett, Johnson (Poole 76); Scannell (Williams 72), O'Connor, Bean, Wood; Elder, MacDonald (Bowditch 76). Subs not used: Anderson, Odhiambo. Attendance: 4,339.

GOALS: Bean (88), Boulding (89), Elder (90).

MoM: Omar Daley

Next Up


Priestfield Stadium Saturday 3pm League Two

Manager: Mark Stimson Position last season: 22nd League One (relegated) Form Guide: The Gills are on the fringes of the play-offs thanks to an excellent home record of seven wins in 10 games and a miserly goals-against column of five. The club is also in good spirits because they have a televised FA Cup third round tie against Aston Villa on the horizon. They have lost only one of their last nine games in all competitions. The home wins have come against Accrington (1-0),Grimsby (3-0),Port Vale (1-0),Morecambe (5-0),Chester (2-0),Rotherham (4-0) and Chesterfield (2-1). Luton are the only team to have won (1-0) at the Priestfield Stadium. Draws have come against Notts County and Rochdale.

Players to look out for: Former QPR stopper Simon Royce has been in great form between the sticks - although he did let in seven at Shrewsbury earlier in the season. Midfielder Adam Miller,another former Ranger, is also in the ranks.

Most recent meetings: Gillingham 2-1 Brentford (31 Mar 2007); Brentford 2-2 Gillingham (21 Oct 2006) - League One Head-to-head record: GFC Wins: 32 BEES Wins: 32 Draws: 17

Match Facts: The clubs cannot be separated in 81 meetings - both claiming 32 each. But the Bees have not beaten the Gills in seven meetings, losing five of those clashes. Their last success was a 2-0 home win in September 1997. The last away win came in March of the same year, when the Bees won 2-1 in Kent.

Forecast: The Gills have a good home record and a draw would be a useful result for the Bees at this stage of the season. Honours even.

Gazette forecast success rate: 16 out of 24 (67 per cent)