Brentford came from behind to book a place in the Third Round of the Carabao Cup. The Bees trailed Forest Green Rovers at half time but scored three times in the final half hour. Yoane Wissa, Bryan Mbeumo and Marcus Forss got the goals as The Bees grabbed a 3-1 win.
It looked for stages as if Brentford may be beaten by the Sky Bet League Two side. Forest Green had the better of the first half and deserved their lead at the break, but Brentford responded. Half time changes made a difference and once The Bees got a hold on the game, they always looked likely to win the Second Round tie.
Forest Green started the game with an attacking outlook. They played with a narrow front three and their wide midfield players pushed high up to give them lots of options in attacking areas. They scored inside the first eight minutes and had already gone close earlier in the contest.
Their first chance came four minutes in when Nicholas Cadden crossed from the left and Ebrima Adams found space in the penalty area. The Forest Green attacker was unable to turn his shot towards goal but warned what was to come. The visitors went ahead moments later when Brentford failed to clear on the right side of their defence. Regan Hendry was denied a shooting chance by Mads Bech, but the ball dropped to Jack Aitchison and he smashed an effort, with maybe a slight deflection, past Álvaro Fernández and in to the net.
The goal came just seconds after it looked like Brentford would take the lead. Halil Dervişoğlu turned superbly in the centre of the field and set off towards goal. His pass released Forss, and the Brentford striker rounded goalkeeper Lewis Thomas but was forced too wide to shoot. His cross found the arriving Mads Bidstrup and his volley was superbly saved by Thomas. The Forest Green goalkeeper then got to his feet to keep out the follow-up shot from Dervişoğlu.
Thomas saved another header from Ethan Pinnock from the resulting corner and Forest Green went straight up the other end to score. That lead should probably only have lasted seconds as Forss released Wissa on the right after a nice run. Wissa had Dervişoğlu and Saman Ghoddos to pick out but overhit the cross and the ball ran away.
It was an all-action opening to the match. Forest Green worked extremely hard off the ball, preventing Brentford from building through the centre of the pitch. They kept their wide players in attacking areas, which forced Brentford’s full backs, particularly Mads Roerslev, to sit deeper and they won a lot of tackles in midfield at times when it looked like The Bees could break free. And when Brentford did get in to attacking areas, they did not always find the right pass or final shot.
Thomas saved at the feet of Forss after a quick free kick and Ghoddos headed a Dominic Thompson cross wide. Jake Young saw a volley deflect wide for the visitors and Josh March headed a cross from the excellent Cadden wide when he got to the ball ahead of Fernández. March had only been on the pitch a matter of minutes after replacing Sadou Diallo, who had taken a knock to his head after being hit by a wayward clearance and was unable to continue.
The delays while Diallo was taken off, and then when Bech was withdrawn later in the half, meant the first period lasted 53 minutes. It did only produce one goal, but there were other chances. Wissa burst from deep after good work by Dervişoğlu, but his low shot was saved by Thomas. Fernández saved from Opi Edwards and Bech, before he was taken off, sliced a shot well wide after a long throw was half cleared.
Brentford had shown enough in attacking areas to indicate they could score but Forest Green’s attacking play, especially on their left, was posing problems. Brentford made changes at the break with Sergi Canós and Frank Onyeka introduced. There was also a change of shape, with Vitaly Janelt stepping in to play in a back three, allowing Canós and Thompson to play as wing backs.
Brentford upped the tempo after the interval, with Onyeka and Janelt driving through the centre of the pitch and pushing Forest Green back. The game was being played more in Forest Green territory, with the visitors trying to counter-attack when they could. Hendry shot well over for Forest Green, but Cadden was now peripheral, with Canós and Kristoffer Ajer dominating that area of the pitch.
A run from deep from Janelt allowed Dervişoğlu to attack the edge of the penalty area, after an exchange of passes with Wissa he looked set to shoot but delayed too long and was crowded out. Canós had a shot blocked after good work by Dervişoğlu and Ghoddos. Canós then shot well over when a cross dropped in the penalty area.
The intensity of Brentford’s play was forcing Forest Green to defend but they almost grabbed a second goal when Hendry worked his way in to the penalty area on the left side. His ball flew across the face of goal, just missing the far post and eluding oncoming attackers. The ball could have run dead but Dominic Thompson got Brentford on the attack, to great effect.
Thompson darted down the left and enabled Brentford to build with Forest Green regrouping. The first attack came to nothing, but The Bees were on the attack and won it back. The ball was worked in and out of midfield and Ghoddos found Wissa on the edge of the penalty area, he turned free and shot left footed in to the far corner, out of the despairing reach of Thomas. Brentford built their attack from the back and levelled the game just past the hour mark.
With Onyeka dominating the centre of the pitch, Canós and Thompson driving from deep and Brentford keeping the pace up, the match had turned around. The Bees did not let up after the equaliser and pushed on, looking to ensure their path to the Third Round. Thompson shot over the bar before Mbeumo tried to release Forss with a through ball. That was blocked and Mbeumo stepped on to the loose ball, driving through the centre. He was left with only Thomas to beat and rolled the ball past him but just wide of the post.
Onyeka released Canós on the right soon after and the low shot was pushed away by Thomas. Wissa got on to the loose ball and teased a cross that Thompson met on the volley and Thomas again saved. Forss got to the loose ball and drilled it back, where Thomas again got a hand to it, pushing it down and eventually gathering.
The pressure had to tell, and Brentford got ahead for the first time with 15 minutes remaining. Thompson got in to space on the left again and delivered a cross that was a fraction ahead of Forss. It was, however, perfect for the arriving Mbeumo and he headed past a stranded Thomas and in to the net.
Forest Green tried to respond, and Taylor Allen shot wide, but they had expended so much energy, they had little left. And any chance they did have went when Adams lunged in two footed on Janelt in the centre of the pitch. Janelt was fortunate that little contact was made but referee Will Finnie had little option but to show a red card, given the force and recklessness of the challenge.
With a man advantage, Brentford pushed forward, and they got a third goal with four minutes remaining. Canós was the architect of this one with a superb run. He weaved his way down the right and teased his way past Allen and in to the penalty area. He cut the ball back to Forss and the striker fired high in to the roof of the net. Thomas got a hand to it but could not keep it out and the game was just about won.
Onyeka could have grabbed a fourth with a shot from distance, but it faded wide of the far post. There was time for Pinnock to leave the field early with a knock and ensure the game ended ten-a-side before Mr Finnie brought the contest to a close. Brentford had survived a scare and booked a place in the last 32.
Brentford: Fernández; Roerslev (sub Canós h/t), Bech (sub Ajer 45 mins), Pinnock, Thompson; Ghoddos, Bidstrup (sun Onyeka h/t), Janelt; Wissa, Forss, Dervişoğlu (sub Mbeumo 68 mins)
Subs (not used): Gunnarsson, Stevens, Peart-Harris
Forest Green Rovers: Thomas; Bernard, Moore-Taylor, Cargill; Edwards (sub Matt 79 mins), Diallo (sub March 34 mins), Hendry, Cadden (sub Allen 74 mins); Adams, Young (sub Wilson 59 mins), Aitchison
Subs (not used): McGee, Sweeney, Evans
Sent Off: Adams (81 mins)
Attendance: 12,137 (678 away fans)