Brentford B and Manchester City’s Under-18 side played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Griffin Park on a mild May evening. The young Brentford side started the game superbly and Cole Dasilva scored a brilliant goal to put them in front. They probably deserved the 2-1 lead they held at half time thanks to a goal from Jan Žambůrek but by the end were thankful to hang on for a draw.
City played superbly after the break, dominating for long periods and pinning Brentford back. They scored their equaliser early in the second half and had enough chances to win the game. But the home defence held firm, kept City out and ensured The Bees had a share of the spoils
The Bees started the game quickly, they were a goal up inside five minutes and had the chances for it to have been more than one. Dasilva enjoyed the freedom of Griffin Park at left wing back and Brentford kept finding him in space. He pushed a long way up the pitch and with Ali Coote, in the inside left channel, moving infield to leave gaps, he was the main attacking threat.
A cross from Dasilva set up the first chance of the night, a header from David Titov that was blocked, and when the wing back got on to a Coote pass he let fly from the edge of the penalty area and Manchester City goalkeeper Tom Scott made a fine save low to his left. Scott was left helpless, however, when Dasilva did break the deadlock seconds later. The wing back stepped up to curl a free kick from 22 yards over a defensive wall and past Scott to give Brentford a lead they deserved despite the game being five minutes old.
The visitors struggled to deal with Brentford’s fast start. The Bees had a high starting position and the front three pushed City back. They could not play through and were forced to hang on. Scott saved from Dasilva again after he had got on to a pass from Jarvis Edobor and played a one-two with Gustav Mogensen and good chances continued to come for The Bees.
When Rowan McDonald slipped, Mogensen had a sight of goal but curled wide from 15 yards and, when Brentford recycled a cleared corner, a Jaakko Oksanen cross was touched by Jayden Onen and Fredrik Hammar failed to convert from close range. Hammar swung a boot at the ball as it dropped loose but could only divert it with minimal power in to the midriff of Scott. Mogensen had another header saved soon after.
But the pattern of the game was changing as it developed. City’s attacking midfield players were dropping a little deeper to support their colleagues and there was space to play through. Brentford’s grip on the game was being steadily loosened by the visitors and they started to look like they could trouble the home defence.
Taylor Richards was unable to reach a cross from Henri Ogunby to covert it at the far post and Patrik Gunnarsson saved a long range shot from Tommy Doyle. Gunnarsson and Doyle were in the action again soon after, the Brentford goalkeeper saving a curling free kick from the City midfield man. The resulting corner was nodded down by Ogunby and a shot from McDonald was blocked. And when the next corner came in, a chipped shot from Ogunby bounced just wide.
The goal City had been threatening came five minutes before the break. Jeremie Frimpong broke in to space on the left and delivered a cross, Richards was unable to head in but he diverted it in to the path of Ogunby and he nodded past Gunnarsson to level the game up. While Brentford could have been out of sight early on, City had deserved their goal. Unfortunately for the visitors, they were not level for long.
Brentford responded well to the goal and built a spell of possession that they turned in to an immediate riposte. The key ball was played by Dasilva to Coote in the inside left channel, his cross was fed back by Mogensen to Žambůrek and the Czech Republic youth international finished low from 15 yards. It was a superbly executed goal and clinically finished and a great response from The Bees.
It could have got even better before the interval when Oksanen burst in to the box on the right side and cut the ball back but the shot from Coote was blocked and bounced back off the Brentford man and behind. Instead, they went in only one goal up and were pegged back within seconds of the restart. A ball was played in to the penalty area, Richards laid it back and Doyle picked his spot to place a shot past Gunnarsson and in to the corner from 20 yards.
City were invigorated after the break. A change in centre forward – Keke Simmonds replacing Lorenzo Gonzalez – gave them a different focal point and they played the ball in a more incisive fashion in attacking areas. Richards had a shot blocked and the same man then won a race to the by-line as Gunnarsson tried to shepherd the ball out before putting the ball across the six-yard box with no-one arriving to score.
City were dominating the second half and Brentford were hanging on. The Bees lost central defender Edobor to injury and were forced in to a defensive reshuffle with Jaden Brissett coming on. Gunnarsson saved a low shot from Simmonds and reacted quickly as Richards arrived. When Oksanen was robbed deep in his own half seconds later, Simmonds fed Richards but the shot flew wide.
Hammar shot wide for The Bees after being set up by Brissett but City still had control. The visitors monopolised possession in midfield and as the game moved in to the later stages, they hunted the winner. It took a fine tackle from Titov to stop Richards shooting but the clearance went straight to Doyle, who chipped an effort over the bar. Richards then lashed over before Adrián Bernabé wriggled free 25 yards out and let fly with a shot that fizzed past Gunnarsson and smashed off the post.
Joe Hardy had a shot blocked after good work by Henrik Johansson on the right, but City were the team most likely to win it. Richards shot over before Simmonds fired over at the near post and Nathanial Ogbeta fired in to the side netting. City almost won it at the death when an Ogbeta shot was blocked by Onen and appeared to be rolling past Gunnarsson, but the goalkeeper recovered and ensured the game finished all square.
Brentford B: Gunnarsson; Mitchell, Onen, Edobor (sub Brissett 54 mins); Titov, Oksanen, Hammar (sub Johansson 70 mins), Dasilva; Žambůrek (sub Majka 90 mins), Mogensen (sub Hardy 59 mins), Coote
Sub (not used): Andersson
Manchester City Under-18: Scott; Frimpong, McDonald (sub Amankwah 63 mins), Humphreys, Wilson (sub Ogbeta 63 mins); Pozolarosa; Richards, Doyle (sub Keller 72 mins), Bernabé, Ogunby (sub Aziz 72 mins); Gonzalez (sub Simmonds h/t)
Sub (not used): Thomas