Cole and Novak strikes not enough as U's get late winner
Brentford B lost 3-2 to Oxford United Under-23s at Jersey Road on Wednesday afternoon. Goals from Reece Cole and Jan Novak had brought The Bees back into the game after going 2-0 down, the visitors then scored a late winner.
The squad showed four changes from the side that drew 1-1 in Wigan last week. First Team players Alan McCormack and Philipp Hofmann continued their recoveries from injury, while Justin Shaibu and Cole returned to B Team action.
Oxford took the lead with just over quarter of an hour gone. After working the ball down the right, the overlapping winger was able to cut inside and shoot into the top left corner. Ellery Balcombe dived but was unable to get near the shot as it found the net.
Brentford tried to get back in the game by patiently pushing the ball around and playing with possession until opportunities arose. The first came when McCormack slid Lukas Talbro down the right, the Danish fullback then squaring for Hofmann. The German striker quickly knocked the ball into the path of Herson Alves but his shot was sent narrowly wide of the right post.
A similar opening almost saw the home side back in the game after 35 minutes. Talbro nodded a ball down the line for Shaibu to chase down and cross. It found Hofmann in the centre, who turned and shot but the effort was blocked by a combination of a defender and the goalkeeper on the line.
Shortly afterwards the Brentford defenders were the ones throwing themselves in the way of shots. Chris Mepham had to get across quickly to stop a low shot from close range on 38 minutes, moments later it was Jarvis Edobor who bravely blocked another low effort on the edge of the box.
The best chance of the first half came from the captain. Talbro was the provider as he clipped a brilliant pass for Zain Westbrooke to run on to inside the penalty area. All it took was a little flick from the midfielder but the goalkeeper made a fine stop with his right hand to palm the ball wide of the post.
After the break, Oxford needed some time to settle back into the game before doubling their advantage. 57 minutes in, Mepham saw a headed clearance cannon back off an attacker and set The Yellows clear on goal. With the back four unable to catch up with the breaking winger, he slotted his one-on-one with Balcombe into the bottom corner to make it two-nil.
With 62 minutes on the clock, Kevin O'Connor made two changes up front. Hofmann and Shaibu were replaced, Novak coming on for only his sixth appearance and new signing Joe Hardy getting his first taste of action in red and white stripes.
A few minutes later, Brentford made their comeback. Cole started it, converting yet another free-kick from the edge of the box into his sixth goal of the season.
The equaliser came from another set piece taken by Cole, this time a corner. The ball was drilled in and Mepham found his volley blocked at the first attempt, so his second touch was to recycle the ball to Novak on the edge of the box. The Slovenian forward took aim and fired an effort into the top left corner of the goal.
Oxford responded by putting some heavy pressure on the home team. They almost took the lead on 86 minutes, instead hitting the post after a neat bit of work down the left flank.
Barely 60 seconds later, they scored the winner. A deep cross into the box from the right was missed by everyone except an Oxford midfielder waiting at the far post, he clipped the ball over the line to snatch a victory with three minutes remaining.
Brentford B: Ellery Balcombe; Lukas Talbro, Chris Mepham, Jarvis Edobor, Ilias Chatzitheodoridis; Zain Westbrooke (c), Alan McCormack (sub Raphael Assibey-Mensah 45 mins), Reece Cole; Justin Shaibu (sub Jan Novak 62 mins), Philipp Hofmann (sub Joe Hardy 62 mins), Herson Alves (sub Luke Dunn 73 mins)