Your Aston Villa v Brentford match report powered by Utilita
After almost eight months without a goalless draw, there was a second in two games for Brentford, this one against Aston Villa. The Bees drew 0-0 with Wolverhampton Wanderers at the end of August, their first such score line in 2017, and followed that up at Villa Park. The Bees might feel slightly disappointed not to have won the match, given Villa goalkeeper Sam Johnstone had to produce an inspired display, and the draw was the least they deserved.
The Bees dominated for long periods at Villa Park and came closest to scoring, particularly in the second half. Ollie Watkins was denied by two superb saves from Johnstone and the Villa goalkeeper also foiled Josh Clarke. There were spells of pressure for the hosts as well but Brentford will feel the happier of the teams with their performance, if not the result.
There was a relatively cagey start from both teams. Villa sat deep and let Brentford have a lot of the ball in the first ten minutes, content that The Bees would play in front of them and not through them. That enabled Brentford to dominate possession in the opening exchanges and they could have taken the lead when a ball chipped over the top by Ryan Woods got Neal Maupay in on goal but he failed to control and Johnstone was able to gather.
The teams lined up with similar formations. They were almost man-to-man in midfield, three on three, with each playing one central striker and wide players high up. Control of that central area fluctuated in the first half with Brentford, particularly Woods, often in the ascendency. But when Villa were able to knit passes together in midfield they looked to get left winger André Green in to the game and looked threatening.
The hosts could have got ahead when Green delivered a cross from the left but Joshua Onomah fired wide on the turn. John Terry then nodded a corner wide for Villa before, later in the half, striker Keinan Davis turned well on the edge of the penalty area and fired a low shot wide. Davis had another sight of goal soon after but drilled a shot in to the side netting after good work by Onomah.
There were no clear cut chances in the first half hour but Brentford had the better of what openings were created. When The Bees broke quickly from a corner, Watkins played a ball over the top and Sergi Canós appeared to be in on goal but as the flight of the ball drifted away from him he attempted to head over Johnstone and could only nod in to his arms. Canós then saw a shot deflect wide before Maupay failed the connect when Nico Yennaris played him in. The French striker battled to create another opening but shot in to the side netting.
Brentford lost Canós just past the half hour. The Spanish winger went in to a tackle on the edge of his own penalty area and picked up an injury. Despite treatment he had to be replaced by Clarke. But Clarke made an immediate impact, helping set up Romaine Sawyers for a shot that went high over the bar. Clarke and Watkins both saw shots blocked for The Bees, as did Neil Taylor at the other end, as half time approached.
Watkins had another shot blocked just before the interval as The Bees ended the half with the initiative, if not the lead. But Villa snatched that at the start of the second period. The hosts started quickly, played on the front foot and got more bodies forward. They also moved the ball with more purpose and precision and the game opened up a little. Watkins had an early shot for Brentford that hit Maupay and dribbled wide but Villa had the upper hand.
The home team could have scored when, after playing the ball out of defence, Green fed Conor Hourihane but the shot was bravely blocked by Yoann Barbet. The hosts then recycled it and Taylor delivered a cross that Ahmed Elmohamady headed over from close range. But the game opening out suited Brentford and The Bees were able to create chances at the other end. They should have gone ahead when a cleave Maupay flick put Clarke away with only Johnstone to beat but his low shot hit the legs of the Villa goalkeeper.
Johnstone then saved a Barbet free kick from 25 yards before a Sawyers shot deflected wide. And the chances continued to come for Brentford. A superb Sawyers pass put Watkins clear in the inside left channel, he cut inside and fired in a shot that Johnstone saved brilliantly. From the resulting corner, Johnstone made a vital punch as Brentford players were waiting to tap in Watkins’ cross and Barbet fired the loose ball over.
Villa had made changes as they chased the winner, introducing more attacking options. And that gave them more of a threat going forward. Daniel Bentley made a brave save at the feet of Scott Hogan after a clever ball from Taylor and there was a superb tackle from Henrik Dalsgaard when it looked as if Elmohamady would go through with only Bentley to beat.
But Brentford had the clearer chances to get in front in the second half. Villa’s attacking instinct had seen them concede control of the midfield and Brentford took advantage. Watkins saw a shot blocked and then forced Johnstone in to a wonderful save with a shot that looked as if it would find the top corner. The resulting corner was played short and Watkins put in a ball that John Egan was unable to knock in from eight yards.
A Yennaris shot dipped over the bar and Maupay fired in to the side netting after getting on to a clever Sawyers pass as Brentford continued to press. But as the game entered the final stages, Villa gained the upper hand, mainly by throwing balls in to the box. The sheer weight of numbers caused Brentford problems at times and the hosts could have won it at the death.
A Robert Snodgrass free kick deflected wide and when the same man got clear soon after his cross found James Chester at the far post and Bentley made a superb stop to keep the game all square. Terry then headed a cross wide as the final chance came and went. A few Brentford players cramped up at the end due to the effort they had put in, but it was enough to get them a point.
Aston Villa: Johnstone; Bree, Chester, Terry, Taylor; Whelan; Elmohamady, Onomah (sub Agbonlahor 71 mins), Hourihane, Green (sub Hogan 60 mins); Davis (sub Snodgrass 60 mins)
Subs (not used): Steer, Lansbury, Jedinak, Bjarnason
Brentford: Bentley; Dalsgaard, Egan, Barbet, Henry (sub Bjelland 89 mins); Woods; Canós (sub Clarke 33 mins), Sawyers, Yennaris, Watkins; Maupay (sub Shaibu 85 mins)
Subs (not used): Daniels, Mokotjo, Chatzitheodoridis, McEachran
Attendance: 29,799 (1,440 Bees fans)