Bees make cup progress
Brentford booked their place in the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round with a comfortable win over National League Eastleigh. The tie was effectively over midway through the first half as The Bees took a three goal lead. And even though Eastleigh got the next goal and threatened a comeback for a short period, Brentford just moved through the gears. They had a 5-1 lead at half time, which was a justified reflection of the gulf between the teams.
Brentford had the perfect start to the match when Yoann Barbet converted a penalty inside the first ten minutes. Tom Field then got his first goal in professional football, with his second following soon after, before Lasse Vibe put The Bees three up before 23 minutes had been played. Romaine Sawyers made it 5-1 just before the break and it looked as if Brentford may run riot afterwards. But a mixture of dogged defending, rugged challenges going unpunished, some good goalkeeping and wasteful finishing meant 5-1 was how it ended.
Brentford were on the front foot from the first whistle. With wing backs Field and Maxime Colin pushing forward, The Bees moved the ball in a way that Eastleigh simply couldn’t handle. Sawyers and Josh McEachran were able to link effortlessly and they would use Nico Yennaris bursting from deep to cause Eastleigh problems. Yennaris and Sawyers were both involved when Brentford won a penalty five minutes in. A clever Yennaris flick opened open for Sawyers and his pass set Vibe through on goal, he rounded Graham Stack but was brought down by the Eastleigh goalkeeper and referee Peter Bankes pointed to the spot. After a lengthy delay that saw Gavin Hoyte leave the pitch injured, Barbet calmly sent Stack the wrong way to start the scoring.
And Brentford barely let up after that. They had their second after 17 minutes and it was a memorable goal for Field. After nice interplay on the right edge of the penalty area, Sawyers delivered a cross with the outside of his right foot and Field arrived to plant a header past Stack an in to the bottom corner. Eastleigh had responded quite well to Brentford’s first, and the reshuffle caused by Hoyte’s injury, but their attacking options were limited to long throws and set pieces. Michael Green sliced a shot well over for the non-league side before Connor Essam missed the target with a header.
They also tried to respond to the second and Brentford’s third came from an Eastleigh free kick. Luke Coulson’s delivery was scrambled away by Daniel Bentley and a follow-up from Ayo Obileye was blocked which set Brentford on the break. Sawyers set McEachran through the middle and he unselfishly picked out Vibe rather than shooting himself, the Danish striker bent a shot with the outside of his right foot in to the far corner. Stack had no chance and the game was effectively over as a contest.
Brentford chased a fourth and Sawyers fired across the face of goal, just out of the reach of Vibe, as they pressed on but Eastleigh got the next goal in controversial circumstances. Coulson delivered a corner from the right and Bentley was barged as he went to punch, the ball hit the crossbar and Obileye reacted quickest to pop it in. Bentley was apoplectic, insisting he had been fouled but Mr Bankes awarded the goal. The official also failed to spot a fairly clear tug on Bentley from the next corner, which Green delivered, and the ball cannoned away off the post.
James Constable also fired wide acrobatically for the visitors and then had a shot blocked during their best spell while at the other end a long Harlee Dean pass released Vibe in the inside left channel and his low shot was saved. When Brentford were looking for something to regain their control of the game, McEachran delivered it. He played a sublime pass through the eye of a needle that Field raced on to and slotted past Stack to make it 4-1. And with seven minutes to go until half time, Brentford looked to make the game completely safe.
A Vibe effort from a Yennaris cross deflected wide and when a corner was half cleared, McEachran exchanged passes with Barbet and saw a ball deflect across the face of goal. Bentley saved a long range free kick from Coulson before the fifth goal came in first half stoppage time. McEachran lifted a ball forward and Vibe laid it in to the path of Sawyers who fired a shot unerringly in to the bottom corner past a static Stack from 25 yards. It was the highlight of an excellent first half and gave indication Brentford would not be taking their foot off the pedal.
The early stages of the second period showed the same. Yennaris latched on to a Vibe pass and saw a shot saved before a McEachran effort deflected over. McEachran then picked out Yennaris with an outstanding pass, the first shot was blocked, John Egan’s headed effort also hit a defender before Sawyers fired wide. Brentford had introduced Josh Clarke at half time and Jota soon followed, the Spaniard’s return being cheered loudly as he made his first appearance following a loan spell at Sociedad Deportivo Eibar. The Bees’ attacking intent was clear while Eastleigh had damage limitation in mind. They shifted to a midfield four sitting in front of a back five for the early stages of the second half and tried to stop Brentford scoring.
But chances continued to come for The Bees. A clever ball from Egan over the top put Yennaris in the clear and his cut back looked perfect for Vibe but a firm tackle, judged to be fair by Mr Bankes despite little contact with the ball, stopped him scoring. Jota had a shot blocked before a move involving Sawyers and Vibe led to a great chance for Clarke, his low shot looked set for the net but Stack made himself big and kept it out.
As the half went on Eastleigh started to counter-attack. They grew in confidence as the half wore on and their defence kept The Bees out. Egan cleared a shot from Hakeem Odoffin off the line and Mikael Mandrom saw a shot blocked. Obileye then missed a golden chance when he headed over unmarked when 12 yards out. Scott Wilson shot wide and then saw a shot blocked by Barbet as the visitors chased a goal.
And the game was very open in the later stages. Eastleigh were busting a gut to defend but allowing their attacking players to seek further consolation at the other end. Vibe shot wide on the turn for The Bees before Jota was taken out with the goal at his mercy after great work by Ryan Woods and Clarke. Mr Bankes again waved away appeals and did so again soon after when Egan was bundled over in the penalty area. Jota then fired across the face of goal with Clarke unable to tap in.
As the minutes ticked down it seemed as if a goal could come at either end. McEachran burst in to the box and rounded Stack but was forced wide and couldn’t finish. Sawyers had a shot blocked when the ball was cut back and McEachran’s effort was then saved. Bentley denied Wilson at the other end and then went full stretch to prevent Mandrom tapping in a cross before denying Jai Reason. Jota had a shot blocked and there was a golden chance late on when McEachran released Sawyers but he looked for a team mate square rather than shooting and Eastleigh cleared. That ensure they kept a second half clean sheet but it was Brentford that progressed.
Brentford: Bentley; Egan, Dean (sub Mepham 81 mins), Barbet; Colin (sub Clarke h/t), Yennaris (sub Jota 62 mins), Woods, McEachran, Field; Sawyers; Vibe
Subs (not used): Bonham, Saunders, McCormack, Hofmann
Bookings: McEachran (31 mins) (fifth of season)
Eastleigh: Stack; Odoffin, Dugdale, Hoyte (sub Reason 9 mins), Essam, Green; Obileye, Togwell; Coulson; Constable (sub Wilson 55 mins), Bird (sub Mandrom 62 mins)
Subs (not used): Childs
Bookings: Stack (6 mins), Reason (43 mins)
Attendance: 7,537 (1,428 away)