Captain Harlee Dean scored the winner as Brentford beat promotion-chasing Sheffield Wednesday. The skipper headed Brentford in to a 2-0 lead just before half time after John Egan had put The Bees in front. The two set piece goals proved to be enough for the visitors, who held on to take the win despite a second half onslaught from Wednesday. Fernando Forestieri curled one in from 20 yards in stoppage time to give the hosts hope of snatching a point but The Bees held firm for a 2-1 win.
Brentford certainly had to ride their luck in a typical game of two halves. But the 2-0 lead they had at half time was certainly merited and their defensive resilience got them over the line. Dean and Egan, restored to the centre of defence, were magnificent, heading away ball after ball that was pumped in to the box and making a series of superb and brave blocks. And with Daniel Bentley almost unbeatable, Brentford got themselves a win against their sixth-placed hosts.
While there were few chances in the opening quarter of the match, Brentford dominated it. The Bees were forced to start with Romaine Sawyers in the central striking role due to injuries to Lasse Vibe and Philipp Hofmann and the system seemed to catch the hosts unawares. With Sergi Canós and Jota looking to get past Sawyers, who regularly dropped deep in a fashion that left the home defenders searching for him, Brentford stretched Wednesday. The Bees also had an extra man in the centre of midfield and used it to good effect as they dominated possession.
The visitors should probably have been ahead inside the first ten minutes. The left side was particularly profitable for The Bees with Rico Henry, on debut, keen to join in with Canós. It was a burst from Henry that led to a great chance, he weaved in to the box and looked set to find Jota 15 yards out but Sawyers cut the cross out and set up Canós for a shot that was blocked. Sawyers had a sight of goal soon after when Glenn Loovens failed to fully cut out a Maxime Colin cross but, from a tight angle, the Brentford striker could only fire across goal and no team mates were up in support.
As the half hour approached Wednesday started to come in to the game. They narrowed their midfield to get more bodies in to the centre of the pitch and disrupt Brentford. Josh McEachran found it harder to link with Ryan Woods and Nico Yennaris as he had done and the hosts had more of the ball. They were able to find the talismanic but unsteady on his feet Forestieri and he linked with Almen Abdi to good effect. When a corner was nodded away, Sam Hutchinson’s headed effort was cleared before, when the ball was recycled, a fierce shot from Abdi flew straight at Bentley.
The game started to stretch and Brentford were winning a lot of free kicks and corners due to the pace they possessed on the break. Referee Darren Bond was already receiving plenty of jeers from the home fans and from one disputed free kick, Woods’ delivery picked out Colin but the header was saved. At the other end Jordan Rhodes set up Abdi for a shot that Egan blocked bravely and when Brentford broke soon after, McEachran and Sawyers linked with the former setting up the latter for a shot that was saved by Keiren Westwood.
Woods found Egan from a free kick moments later but the ball was scrambled clear as it dropped. From the next delivery, however, The Bees made the breakthrough. Woods again sent the ball in and Egan rose at the far post to loop a header over a poorly positioned Westwood and in to the net. It was a goal Brentford deserved on the balance of play but one that further raised the ire of the home fans. Wednesday thought they should have had a penalty minutes earlier when a quick throw set Forestieri away, Dean chased back and seemed to come together with the home striker but the well-positioned Mr Bond decided no foul had been committed. When Yennaris went down in the centre of the pitch in similar circumstances as Brentford attacked, a foul was given and The Bees were ahead.
Forestieri had a shot blocked and Rhodes looped a header on to the roof of the net as the volume rose around Hillsborough. The main cause of the lift in noise was the home fans getting on the back of Mr Bond and a yellow card for Forestieri soon after further angered the Wednesday supporters. Brentford continued trying to play their football and Westwood denied Jota after he had been set up by Sawyers. Westwood made an even better stop soon after when Canós weaved his way in to the box on the left, Jota had the shot that was superbly saved and the follow-up was deflected wide.
That escape for the home side only lasted seconds, however. Jota delivered the resulting corner and Dean attacked it, rising unmarked to power home from eight yards. While the hosts may have disputed the award of the corner, by leaving Dean in that much space they contributed to their own downfall. Wednesday could have pulled one back before half time when Rhodes met a Ross Wallace cross ten yards out and fired low but Dean somehow diverted the ball over the crossbar and away to safety.
That should have ended a great half for The Bees but there was a negative conclusion when McEachran was removed on a stretcher after Forestieri had accidentally landed on him. Konstantin Kerschbaumer was introduced and with Wednesday bringing on striker Sam Winnall at the break, the shape of the game was different in the second period. With Forestieri now on the left wing, Wednesday restored their width and had extra attacking options and after Sawyers had a header blocked, the home side did most of the early second half attacking.
Forestieri had a shot blocked and Loovens failed to make good contact with a header soon after before Winnall was beaten to the loose ball by Dean with more appeals for a penalty. Vincent Sasso headed a corner wide and a Forestieri cross just eluded Rhodes as Wednesday pressed before Abdi fired well over. Brentford were able to counter-attack and use the space Wednesday were leaving and Jota had a shot blocked after being set up by Sawyers. Jota nearly scored soon after with a free kick from 20 yards that deflected but Westwood recovered well and saved.
Chances were coming at both ends as the game got more and more stretched. The home side threw on more attackers as they chased a way back in to the game with Callum McManaman and Steven Fletcher introduced as the hosts gave up defending. Brentford were sitting deeper but breaking well and Jota looped a header just over. But other opportunities went begging and there was a glorious one when Sawyers had yards of space in Wednesday territory but his pace to Jota was off the mark and the Spaniard was crowded out.
Sam Hutchinson shot wide for Wednesday and Dean made a superb recovery tackle as McManaman burst in to the box. Hutchinson then missed the target with a header before Palmer miss-hit a shot and McManaman fired in to the side netting. Hutchinson headed across the face of goal before a Winnall shot was blocked and Bentley saved Forestieri’s follow-up. Chances were coming and going for the hosts and Brentford were hanging on as the game entered the final ten minutes.
A Wallace shot was blocked and Bentley tipped a Forestieri free kick over as time ticked down. Brentford had a miraculous escape with three minutes remaining – Rhodes met a corner but Tom Field headed off the line with his first touch and Fletcher somehow headed against the post from inches out. Bentley was in the action again moments later, pushing a Wallace shot around the post and he then pushed out a Forestieri shot before denying Winnall.
As the game entered stoppage time Wednesday continued to push and Brentford escaped again when Bentley pushed a Forestieri shot out and Sasso shot wide from six yards with the goal gaping. Bentley then denied Forestieri one-on-one after Colin had failed to clear but could do nothing seconds later when the Wednesday man curled a shot in to the top corner from 20 yards. That left Wednesday two minutes to try and salvage a point and they continued to throw balls and bodies forward but with Dean and Egan heading everything away, Brentford got the win.
Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood; Palmer, Sasso, Loovens (sub Fletcher 81 mins), Reach; Wallace, Hutchinson, Abdi (sub McManaman 67 mins), Bannan (sub Winnall h/t); Rhodes, Forestieri
Subs (not used): Wildsmith, Jones, Semedo, Pudil
Bookings: Forestieri (41 mins)
Brentford: Bentley; Colin, Dean, Egan, Henry (sub Field 86 mins); McEachran (sub Kerschbaumer 45 mins); Jota, Woods, Yennaris, Canós (sub Jozefzoon 63 mins); Sawyers
Subs (not used): Bonham, Bjelland, Clarke, Shaibu
Bookings: Sawyers (76 mins) (fifth of season), Yennaris (85 mins) (fifth of season), Dean (90 mins) (tenth of season) (suspended for two matches – Rotherham United (H) 25 February and Ipswich Town (A) 4 March)