Brentford B came from behind twice to end their season with an impressive win over Manchester City Under-23. The Bees fell behind to an early strike from Ian-Carlo Poveda and the City attacker scored from the spot later on to put his team 2-1 up after Herson Rodrigues Alves had equalised. But there was a stirring fightback from The Bees. Ali Coote levelled and Marcus Forss blasted home the winner late on to ensure The Bees ended the campaign with a victory.
It was a win that didn’t look likely after the first quarter but was probably merited over the course of the evening. City dominated the opening exchanges, albeit without creating too many clear-cut chances, and looked set to control the game. But Brentford fought back late in the first half and then had command of the second. When Forss got the winner, it was no more than The Bees deserved.
It was a difficult start to the evening for The Bees. They found themselves a goal down within four minutes and struggled to deal with the pace and movement of their visitors. The goal was exquisite – Henri Ogunby escaped on the right and delivered a cross on the run, it was behind most of the onrushing players but perfect for the arriving Poveda and he volleyed first time past Ellery Balcombe. The England youth international, formerly at Brentford, did not have to break stride to meet the cross and steered it in to the top corner.
The goal summed up City’s early play. They attacked with pace and precision and found pockets of space to play. When passes didn’t look on they found a way to play them and there always seemed to be a spare man. Brentford were perhaps too nice in the opening exchanges, allowing City a bit more time and looking to defend their penalty area. It meant there were few good chances for City – Balcombe denied Poveda after good work by Luke Bolton – but Brentford were not an attacking force.
That changed as the half wore on. The Bees got closer to City, risking being played past or around in order to win the ball in dangerous areas at times. The lively Ilias Chatzitheodoridis provided a key outlet on the left and Brentford looked like they could create chances. Daniel Grimshaw in the City goal got down well to meet a low cross-cum-shot from Nikolaj Kirk and Alves blasted over after cleverly working his way inside.
But most of the Brentford threat came from Chatzitheodoridis. He had a low shot saved by Grimshaw after one fine run and then fired wide from the edge of the box after being set up by Theo Archibald. But as much as the chances he created, it was the belief that the left back – just returned from a loan spell at Cheltenham Town – gave to his team mates that proved to be important. He took on the City back line and The Bees grew in confidence.
They still went in at the break behind but had put that right before the hour mark. Archibald found some space on the right and lifted a cross to the far post where Alves arrived to steer a header past Grimshaw and in to the net. As well as the boost in confidence there had been a noticeable tactical shift from The Bees. With City playing a narrow back three and attack minded wide players there was space on the flanks. And the two Brentford wide midfield players combined for the goal.
The game was more even and more open as it progressed. City had chances with Bolton heading wide in the first half and then having a low shot saved just before the equaliser. And Brentford could have been level before they did score as Archibald curled a shot wide and then knocked a Chatzitheodoridis cross in to the path of Bradley Clayton but he blasted over from ten yards.
Brentford had probably just about earned their equaliser but fell behind again within five minutes. A delightful flick put Poveda in behind in the inside left channel and he raced clear, Mads Bech Sørensen and Brentford’s trialist defender came across to cover but the former made contact with the City man and a penalty was awarded. Poveda stepped up to slot the penalty home.
But that goal was against the run of play and Brentford soon regained the initiative. Archibald almost equaliser with a curling free kick from 20 yards that whistled just past the post but The Bees did not have to wait long. Jaakko Oksanen found Clayton in space and he burst through midfield and fed Coote who raced on to slot under Grimshaw and level it up.
That left just under 20 minutes for the teams to find a winner and it was Brentford that went chasing it. Archibald was just unable to force in as a corner dropped loose and Forss saw a shot blocked. Clayton saw a fierce shot blocked and Brentford’s trialist then headed a corner wide. But from the next dead ball, the winner came. Oksanen delivered again, the trialist got up highest and when the ball dropped loose, Forss reacted quickest to lash in to the roof of the net.
Forss could have doubled his tally moments later when another burst from midfield by Coote to set up Archibald for a shot that was superbly saved by Grimshaw, the ball dropped loose but the Finnish striker lashed it high and wide. There was still time for Clayton to curl an effort wide and for another Brentford trialist to force Grimshaw in to a low save before the match was brought to a close. And there was also time for Iker Pozo la Rosa to be sent off for appearing to slap Archibald. That showed the way Brentford had got under City’s skin in the second half and The Bees earned their win.
Brentford B: Balcombe; Kirk, Trialist, Sørensen, Chatzitheodoridis (sub Talbro 84 mins); Oksanen; Archibald (sub Trialist 90 mins), Coote, Clayton, Rodrigues Alves (sub Hardy 73 mins); Forss
Bookings: Clayton (27 mins), Sørensen (63 mins), Coote (70 mins)
Manchester City Under-23: Grimshaw; Amankwah, Humphries (sub Wilson h/t), Francis; Ogunby, Smith, Pozo la Rosa, Garre (sub Trialist 73 mins); Dele-Bashiru, Poveda; Bolton
Bookings: Garre (60 mins)
Sent Off: Pozo la Rosa (88 mins)