Brentford extended their current run to one defeat in seven as they drew 0-0 with Middlesbrough. The Bees had slightly the better of an even contest but were unable to break through. It was, overall, a game of few chances where both teams defended well and neither side will quibble that it ended all square.
It was a game that lack flow throughout and never really came to life. Neither goalkeeper was overly stretched but Brentford had better openings when they were able to break through an excellent Middlesbrough defence. The Bees were also good without the ball and did enough to ensure they did not concede and take a point.
The opening exchanges of the match were not pretty to watch and contained little action of note. Middlesbrough had the better of the first quarter of the contest, without creating any really good chances. Paddy McNair smashed a free kick well over the bar from the inside left channel and Lewis Wing found space in midfield soon after but his shot from distance flew very high over David Raya’s goal.
The early stages were staccato in nature. Referee James Linington was quick to whistle with Henrik Dalsgaard repeatedly penalised, often when he collided with an opponent when the ball was in the air. Dalsgaard was cautioned inside the first 20 minutes of the contest for a series of fouls and while Middlesbrough put a lot of balls in to the penalty area, Raya was mostly untroubled.
The Brentford goalkeeper, indeed, spent a lot of time with the ball at his feet. Middlesbrough were superbly drilled out of possession and almost every pass in opposition territory was a challenge for The Bees. Bryan Mbeumo and Sergi Canós tried to pull off their flanks to create space for Brentford to play in and as the half wore on there were signs that gaps were being created and the pace of the game picked up.
Brentford could have gone ahead just before the half hour when Josh Dasilva burst through a gap and attacked the edge of the penalty area, he had room to shoot but dragged his effort wide from 16 yards. A run from Rico Henry allowed Mathias Jensen to set up Canós for a curling shot that was well held by Marcus Bettinelli in the Middlesbrough goal. Canós had sight of goal earlier in the contest when Dalsgaard and Jensen linked on the right, but he was unable to get a shot away.
Brentford started to take the upper hand as half time approached but, like the visitors when they had the initiative, were unable to make much of it. Toney hit a defensive wall with a free kick and had a better opening just before. Mads Bech Sørensen stepped out of defence and found him with a pass, he worked his way past McNair but saw a shot deflect wide.
The Bees would have been looking to build on a good end to the first period and seemed to be happy to take more risks in possession after the interval. Middlesbrough dropped a fraction deeper and the game was played more in their half. More Brentford players looked to take on their counterparts, draw tackles and look to expose the space created. While there were not lots of chances, the openings were better ones.
The first of those went to the visitors when they broke quickly. Jonny Howson got in to space on the right and delivered a cross, Chuba Akpom turned away from Ethan Pinnock but shot over the crossbar from 14 yards. Hayden Coulson also blasted over for the visitors, but Brentford were the team chasing the game in the second half and fashioned a couple of very good chances.
The best of them fell to Vitaly Janelt. Toney fed a Mbeumo pass in to the path of Dalsgaard on the right and he delivered a cross from the right that deflected in to the path of the arriving Janelt. The ball may have bounced a little awkwardly, but he would have expected to hit the target from eight yards rather than fire it over the bar. The Bees had also gone close when Pinnock flicked on a Sørensen long throw and Dalsgaard knocked it past Bettinelli, but Marc Bola cleared it off the line.
Canós had a shot blocked for The Bees after turning well and Bola volleyed wide at the other end but with the game entering its final stages, it was still 0-0. Brentford made changes to try and give themselves more attacking options on the pitch. Marcus Forss, Saman Ghoddos and Tariqe Fosu were all introduced, and the game was a little more stretched in the final stages. But both teams had a solid defensive shape and there was no way through.
The Bees almost created something from a deep Jensen free kick, Pinnock headed back and Sørensen acrobatically flicked it over the bar. But Middlesbrough probably ended the game a little stronger and Brentford were stretched at the back in the dying moments, often through unfortunate bounces. Pinnock made a block from a Marcus Tavernier shot and Raya pushed away an effort from Wing in stoppage time but neither team could find a goal and had to share the spoils.
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Pinnock, Sørensen, Henry; Jensen, Janelt (sub Fosu 79 mins), Dasilva; Mbeumo (sub Forss 67 mins), Toney, Canós (sub Ghoddos 74 mins)
Subs (not used): Daniels, Thompson, Marcondes, Stevens
Bookings: Dalsgaard (19 mins) (second of season)
Middlesbrough: Bettinelli; Dijksteel, Fry, McNair, Bola; Howson, Tavernier; Spence, Wing, Coulson (sub Johnson 79 mins); Akpom (sub Assombalonga 79 mins)
Subs (not used): Stojanović, Browne, Wood, Roberts