Brentford will play in the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final after coming from behind to beat AFC Bournemouth 3-1 and book a spot at Wembley. The Bees trailed 1-0 from the First Leg of the tie and had the worst possible start when they conceded inside six minutes. But Brentford would not be beaten. Ivan Toney scored from the penalty spot to equalise on the day before Bournemouth were reduced to ten men before half time. Vitaly Janelt put Brentford in front and Marcus Forss sealed the tie late on.
It was a win that Brentford fully deserved. They responded brilliantly after conceding early on and battled back. The dismissal of Chris Mepham came when The Bees were on top and Janelt equalised on aggregate just after half time. Bournemouth were unable to respond and Forss poked home from close range to send The Bees to Wembley.
Brentford knew they needed to win the game to keep their season alive and were on the front foot from the first whistle. They got men in to attacking areas and won early set pieces, testing the Bournemouth defence with balls in to the penalty area. All the early pressure came from The Bees, but it was Bournemouth that got the first goal, turning Brentford’s attacking instinct against them.
The Bees had a corner on the right that was delivered deep by Bryan Mbeumo and headed back by Ethan Pinnock. The visitors, however, won the next header and Lloyd Kelly cleared it towards halfway where he found Arnaut Danjuma, all on his own. Brentford had committed too many men forward and Danjuma was able to run 50 yards, leaving defenders behind him. He raced clear and slotted past David Raya to give Bournemouth the lead on the day and a cushion in the tie.
That did not affect the intensity of Brentford’s play and they continued to look to attack. Bournemouth had started with a fairly deep defence and looked content to maintain that policy, counter-attacking with pace and getting bodies up quickly when they could. Toney met a Sergi Canós cross with a header he couldn’t direct, but the equaliser did not take long to come, just past the quarter hour.
Toney headed a cross from the right in to the path of Emiliano Marcondes and headed in to the middle for the return. Marcondes’ cross hit the raised arm of Kelly and, after a delay and perhaps a consultation with his assistant, referee Jarred Gillett pointed to the penalty spot. Toney took the responsibility and placed his spot kick high to the left of Asmir Begović, beating the dive of the goalkeeper, who had gone the right way.
Brentford had levelled on the day, but Bournemouth still had the advantage on aggregate. But The Bees had the initiative and soon had a man extra. Chris Mepham slipped as he tried to deal with a ball forward and Mbeumo was on him as he dithered. Mepham grabbed at Mbeumo as he tried to race away to shoot and, as the Brentford man was unable to keep his footing, Mr Gillett blew for the foul. As Mbeumo was denied a clear goal scoring opportunity, Mepham was dismissed, and Bournemouth were reduced to ten.
The Bees almost scored from the resulting free kick, but Toney was unable to volley in a clever chip from Mathias Jensen and Mr Gillett decided Dominic Solanke’s contact on him was not a foul. A Canós cross found Toney unmarked at the back post soon after, but he failed to make the correct contact and headed wide. Henrik Dalsgaard then flicked on a Pinnock long throw, past the stranded Begović, only to see Diego Rico clear off the line. Marcondes tried to acrobatically finish it off but missed the target.
Bournemouth had been forced in to reshuffle after the red card. Kelly shifted in to the centre of defence with Rico introduced at right back. Solanke was playing a more isolated role up front and almost all the action was with Brentford on the ball, looking to attack. The visitors had a couple of dangerous set pieces, and appeals for a penalty when a Philip Billing header hit the arm of Pinnock. This time Mr Gillett noticed that Pinnock was completing his jump and gave nothing.
Dalsgaard lashed over late in the half for The Bees and a Jensen free kick almost caught Begović out, but he saved, back peddling, on his line. The game was getting more tense and fraught as it went on. Begović and Jefferson Lerma were booked for the visitors, as was Toney for Brentford, and the half lasted more than 51 minutes due to the amount of incident and the way the visitors slowed down whenever the ball went out of play.
Brentford increased their attacking options at the start of the second half with Forss introduced but it was Raya forced in to an early save, pushing a low effort from Solanke around the post. Marcondes had seen a shot blocked just before and Toney screwed an effort wide as Brentford continued to press forward. And five minutes in to the second half, the tie was level on aggregate.
It looked like an attack had been halted when Kelly stopped Forss getting on to a ball forward, but Mbeumo won a challenge to keep The Bees in Bournemouth territory. A cross by Jensen was half cleared and Janelt stepped on to it. Lerma tried to make a challenge but that just put the ball against Janelt’s foot, the shot flew past Begović and in to the net. The Bees had come from behind to lead on the day and the tie was all square with more than 40 minutes remaining.
Dalsgaard fired over and made a more telling contribution at the other end, preventing the ball reaching Solanke 18 yards out after good work by Danjuma. The Bees looked like they had opened the door when Toney flicked in to the path of Mbeumo, but Cameron Carter-Vickers made a superb recovery tackle. Toney’s attempt to toe-poke in was saved by Begović and Forss could not get on to the loose ball.
Bournemouth were retreating deeper and deeper, trying to hold on and looking for their front players to conjure something. Brentford had all the ball, were pulling Bournemouth from side to side and trying to find a way through. All the action was in the Bournemouth defensive half as chances were created, without being taken.
Marcondes fired a deep Mbeumo cross in to the side netting and then arrived late to meet a corner, but was unable to force it home under pressure from Ben Pearson. Toney had a great chance when Mbeumo weaved free on the right after picking up a Dalsgaard pass and crossed. Toney met it on the volley ten yards out but lashed it over.
Toney headed a Pinnock cross wide and was then denied by Cater-Vickers, who stopped him finishing off a Mbeumo head down. Begović saved a curling effort from Marcondes as Brentford continued to push. And the door eventually opened.
A cross was half cleared and Marcondes picked it up on the left, he drilled it in to the near post, Forss got in front of Carter-Vickers and poked it past Begović and in to the roof of the net. An exhausted Billing was unable to get close enough to Marcondes to stop the cross, Forss’ movement took him in to space and his finish was unerring. The stadium rocked as Brentford edged themselves in front in the tie for the first time.
Marcondes had a shot blocked as The Bees continued to attack and a cross-cum-shot from Tariqe Fosu flew just past the far post. Bournemouth tried to attack but having defended for the majority of the tie to that point had neither the energy or the inspiration to conjure something and The Bees had done enough. They will now play at Wembley in the Championship Play-Off Final for a place in the Premier League.
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Pinnock; Roerslev (sub Forss h/t), Marcondes, Janelt (sub Ghoddos 64 mins), Jensen, Canós (sub Fosu 79 mins); Toney, Mbeumo (sub Bidstrup 90 mins)
Subs (not used): Daniels, Stevens, Goode, Reid
Bookings: Toney (17 mins), Jansson (78 mins), Dalsgaard (90 mins)
AFC Bournemouth: Begović; Smith (sub Long 82 mins), Mepham, Carter-Vickers, Kelly; Pearson, Lerma; Brooks (sub Rico 30 mins), Billing, Danjuma; Solanke (sub Stacey 75 mins)
Subs (not used): Travers, Wilshere, Surridge, Stacey, Riquelme, Kilkenny, Anthony
Bookings: Begović (17 mins), Lerma (45 mins), Stacey (90 mins)
Sent Off: Mepham (28 mins)