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Brentford's Donaldson better prepared to face European giants this time
Instant replay: Clayton Donaldson will face European footballing royalty once more when Chelsea visit next week
Clayton Donaldson is no stranger to European footballing royalty, although he will hope for a better result this time around when Chelsea visit Griffin Park in the FA Cup next week.
The 28-year-old hit the winner in Tuesday’s 2-1 third round replay win over Southend to set up next Sunday’s fourth round clash with the Blues.
Donaldson was with Scottish Premier League club Hibernian when they took on FC Barcelona in a pre-season friendly at Murrayfield in July 2008.
Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry, Dani Alves, Yaya Toure, et al, ran out 6-0
winners on the day in front of more than 23,000 fans at the home of Scottish rugby and they went on to win the Champions League with a 2-0 final win over Manchester United in Rome later that same season.
Donaldson, who signed for Crewe Alexandra a month later, before his move to the Bees last summer, came off the bench in that game and is looking forward to reacquainting himself with Europe’s best.
But he insisted reputations would count for nothing once the whistle blows.
“It is a terrific achievement and we deserve a tie like this. We’ve been very consistent all season and it is a tie everyone is looking forward to,” he said.
“Once you are on the pitch it is just 11 players and us, but leading up to the game you’ll see them on Sky – they are high profile players – and that is where we want to be.
“Although we are professionals at Brentford, that is where you want to be. You want to play at the highest level, so you want to emulate them.
“But when you cross the white line it is just us against them. We’ll look to knock them out, at the same time they’ll be looking to knock us out.”
Hundreds of fans, fueled by cups of tea provided by the club, braved freezing conditons to queue late into the night to get their hands on tickets for the clash – which is a noon kick-off and will be screened live on ESPN – with hundreds more there again on Wednesday morning.
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The match will conclude a huge week for the club with League One leaders Tranmere Rovers – who the Bees trail by four points in the table – visiting on Saturday and London rivals Leyton Orient making the trip to west London on Tuesday night.
It will stretch boss Uwe Rosler’s resources to the limit, but Donaldson reckoned it was the sort of week players lived for.
“This is a great time for the club. Where we are sitting in the league we want games coming thick and fast,” he added.
“We want to get the points on the board and then relax towards the end of the season. We’re all looking forward to the games coming up and what a way to start withTranmere Rovers.
“They’re winning and we’re winning and we haven’t been able to catch up to them, so we’ve got a great chance to catch them up and move closer to the top of the table.
“It is difficult not to think about the Chelsea game now we are through.
“It is a great feeling. It didn’t really sink in as we walked off the pitch.
“But when we sat in the dressing room and everyone pointed out that in the opposite changing room will be the likes of Frank Lampard and Eden Hazard.
“It is unbelievable and it is a tie everyone is looking forward to.”
Donaldson admitted his winner against Southend may never have happened, but for a deflection.
Bees would have been out of sight by the break had it not been for the Shrimpers’ ex-Bees keeper Paul Smith.
Smith made a host of world class saves – including one from a Harry Forrester penalty – before Donaldson’s decisive 76th minute strike.
“Today was a result game. We just had to get through,” he said.
“If it hadn’t taken a nick, Paul (Smith) probably would have saved it. That might have been the only way we were going to score, so I was happy to see it hit the back of the net.”
Donaldson has 18 goals to his name and has won over fans after last season’s disappointing haul of 11.
“I was still getting the chances last year, but I was missing more than I was scoring. This season I’ve been more clinical and that is down to working hard in training,” he added.