Brentford B won the 2017 Kai Thor Cup after a 3-1 win over Norwegian side Brann Bergen this afternoon. Goals from Justin Shaibu, Henrik Johansson and Zain Westbrooke confirmed the win after a narrow game that saw two penalties given against The Bees.
Kevin O'Connor opted to name an unchanged side for the final match of the tournament, with Bradley Clayton again missing out through an injury he picked up against Esbjerg.
Within the first five minutes, Brentford had created the first chance. Ilias Chatzitheodoridis made a darting run from left-back to unleash a low drive from distance that zipped a few yards wide of the post.
A few minutes later The Bees took the lead. Johansson beat the Brann fullback to a loose ball and drove down the left wing before cutting the ball back across the box for Shaibu. The Danish forward stretched out his left leg, chipping it in to put his team one up. He was withdrawn immediately after the goal, an aggravated injury meaning Marc Rio was introduced with only ten minutes on the clock.
Brann started to get a hold on the game after 20 minutes, playing simple football and waiting for their opponents to make a mistake. They made a break through just five minutes later.
As Bergen broke away down the left, Balcombe came out to meet the ball and collided with the onrushing attacker. The referee immediately pointed to the spot, which felt harsh given that the goalkeeper had managed to push the ball away as the contact came in.
Up stepped Brann's Gaute Vetti to try and convert the kick. After a short run up, he sent it low into the bottom left corner but Balcombe was equal to it. Leaping hard to his right, the England Under-18 got both hands to the ball and held on to keep his clean sheet intact.
After half an hour the Norwegians were in behind again, this time Ole Kolskogen was one-on-one with Balcombe. The attacker hit a shot low to Balcombe's left but again the goalkeeper got down to save it with his hands.
A couple of minutes later, Brann had another penalty. This time Raphal Assibey-Mensah mistimed a tackle on Viljar Birkeland right on the edge of the box and, after a long consultation with his assistant, the referee awarded the kick.
This time Vetti scored. Athough Balcombe dived the correct way, the ball had too much pace on it and found the top right corner of the net.
The goal seemed to wake Brentford from a deep sleep, and Kevin O'Connor's side immediately went back on the hunt for a goal.
James Ferry was the first Bee to have a go at goal, sending his shot wide of the goal after a set from Lukas Talbro on the edge of the box. The Danish fullback's next cross was far more devastating for the opposition.
Some neat one-touch football on the wing saw Talbro find space in added time, and he sent the ball deep towards the far side of the penalty area. Getting away from his marker with a quick shift of his weight, Johansson rose unchallenged to nod the ball back across the keeper and it took a slight deflection on its way into the net.
After half time, Brentford looked much more like a team in control of their own destiny. Rio was doing his best to hold the ball up top and allow runs in behind him, which created chances in the opening stages of the second 45.
The first of such chances fell to him when he played a one-two with Talbro to get in behind inside the box. His snapshot was too quick for the goalkeeper to react to but it was also narrowly north of the crossbar.
Johansson nearly had his second with some style shortly after. When nodding the ball down for Talbro, he collected the return pass from his right-back and cut inside before driving the ball just over the left apex.
At the back, Balcombe was proving that he can do as much with his feet as his hands, finding Chatzitheodoridis near the halfway line time and time again to relieve the pressure on his defence.
Another Talbro cross saw Brentford finally make a breakthrough for the decisive third goal; this time it was a low ball for Westbrooke to run in and convert from the edge of the penalty area. The captain took the ball in his stride as his one-touch finish found the bottom corner of the net.
Brann tried their best to get back into the match as the minutes ticked away, abandoning their highly structured approach to the game and just pushing bodies forward in desperation. Twice they were denied by Jarvis Edobor getting his body in the way of hopeful shots from distance.
Meanwhile, his centre-back partner Chris Mepham was pushing forward and joining the search for more goals. He started a move with ten minutes to go that could have seen The Bees net a fourth. Rio played a neat one-two with Ferry in the middle before poking the ball through to Assibey-Mensah, then goalkeeper Hans Claussen made a strong left-handed save to deny the German a goal.
Substitute Danny Parish was also playing his part, pressing the Bergen defence into mistakes in the dying moments. Rio was in behind again when Brann played a loose ball away from the back but again the Spaniard sent his shot inches over the frame of the goal.
The final half-chance of the game went to Brann, a corner kick that Mepham rose to meet under heavy pressure before Talbro walloped clear. With that, the referee blew his whistle and Brentford were champions of the Kai Thor Cup.
Brentford B: Balcombe; Talbro, Mepham, Edobor, Chatzitheodoridis; Ferry, Westbrooke (c), Assibey-Mensah; Dunn (sub Parish 72 mins), Shaibu (sub Rio 10 mins), Johansson
Brann Bergen: Claussen; Kleppe, Bildoy, Marthinussen, Roman; Birkeland, Vetas, Vetti, Fantoft (sub Gjerstad 52 mins); Kolskogen (sub Vassnes 52 mins), Mjos