Brentford boss Warburton has double motivation for facing Middlesbrough

Griffin Park entrance, Brentford

Brentford manager Mark Warburton has two easy ways to gee his players up ahead of tonight's Championship play-off semi-final first leg.

Griffin Park is the setting for the first chapter in football's most intriguing series of games, and Bees manager Warburton is looking to avenge two defeats to Aitor Karanka's Middlesbrough in the regular season.

In September 2014, Brentford were swept aside and suffered their biggest defeat of the season in a 4-0 drubbing at the Riverside. This did trigger an upturn in form, however, and by the time the sides met again at the end of January it was a much closer contest. Brentford's home encounter with 'Boro saw the visitors edge a very close game with a 1-0 win, settled by a Grant Leadbitter penalty.

But in addition to a hunger to avenge the twin defeats to Middlesbrough, it has been suggested that the Teessiders settled for a 0-0 draw at home to Brighton in the final game of the regular season last weekend, so that they would avoid finishing third in the table and facing Ipswich Town, who for whatever reason were deemed tougher opponents.

Get West London put it to Warburton that Middlesbrough's players were uncharacteristically reluctant to attack Brighton, and the Bees' boss commented: “Anybody would use the right tool to motivate the players, but they are not fools. If a team wants to play Brentford, then great. If they beat Brentford that (seeking a draw rather than a win) is justified. If they don’t, then what goes around comes around. We will see what happens.”

What can't be denied is that Middlesbrough bossed the Riverside encounter between the two sides, and Warburton, stung by his team's display that day, is using that to motivate his players for the double-header this week: “Our away game was the worst half of football all season. Positives out of the negative – I now refer to that as being ‘Middlesbroughed’. Our standards dropped in the second half. We went in 1-0 down and were doing okay but in the second half we did not move the ball and had no intensity or tempo and go beaten by four. It truly could have been six or seven.

“That was our worst half of football all season," added Warburton "and if you look at results after that we only lost two out of the next 11. We went on a really good run – five wins out of five – and that showed the character of the players.

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