Brentford progressed to the Second Round of the Carabao Cup after another high-scoring affair. Brentford’s recent history in the competition is full of games packed with goals, including a 6-6 draw with Dagenham and Redbridge and a 4-1 win over Queens Park Rangers. They added another to the collection with a 4-2 victory over Southend United on a warm evening on the Essex coast.
Marcus Forss put Brentford ahead in the first half on his debut and Julian Jeanvier also notched on his first game for The Bees after Southend had, rather undeservingly, equalised. Saïd Benrahma put The Bees 3-1 up only for Southend to halve the deficit and when the home side hit the bar moments later, it looked like the tie might be about to swing their way. But Kamohelo Mokotjo lashed home a fourth from distance for Brentford to book their passage through to the next stage.
Brentford went on the attack from the first whistle. They pressed Southend back and forced the hosts to defend deep. The League One side often sat with ten men behind the ball, leaving Shawn McCoulsky as the lone front man, and looked to break quickly. But they saw little of the ball in the opening exchanges as The Bees attacked with numbers.
Benrahma saw a shot blocked inside the first minute and there was a golden chance for Forss seconds later when Josh Clarke burst from the back and slipped him in, but the low shot was well saved by Mark Oxley. Brentford recycled the ball and worked it to the left, Alan Judge played a one-two with Nico Yennaris and then fired in to the side netting at the near post.
The Forss chance proved to be the best of the early stages. The Finland youth international striker was one of two Brentford B players making their debuts in the fixture. Unfortunately, the second – Mads Bech Sørensen – only lasted half an hour. The Danish defender came off worse in a challenge with Theo Robinson and limped off holding the top of his leg to be replaced by Chris Mepham.
By that time, Brentford’s grip on the game had been loosened slightly. The Bees still had the upper hand but were finding it harder to create chances and play through the massed Southend ranks. They should probably have been ahead by then, however. Yennaris fired over from 18 yards after good work by Judge and Benrahma before Mokotjo curled a shot over from slightly further out. Benrahma also blasted wide from distance.
Southend were very much on the back foot in the first half hour. A deep free kick from Ben Coker created space for Stephen McLaughlin but his volley was sliced horribly and Luke Daniels gathered. Michael Klass also curled a shot over the top but as half time approached, Brentford moved up a gear and deservedly took a lead in to the interval;
Brentford should have gone ahead when Forss picked out Yennaris 15 yards out after a clever reverse pass from Benrahma but the finish from the midfield man was deflected and Oxley was able to save. That only delayed the inevitable, however. Clarke had been Brentford’s best attacking outlet in the first half, joining in from right back and testing the home defence with his speed and direct running. It was no surprise he played a key role in the goal with another burst from the back, this time he slipped it through to Forss and the striker drilled a shot across Oxley and in to the net.
It was a fine finish from the young striker and no more than Brentford deserved. The Bees could even have extended that lead before the interval, and probably should have done. Oxley made a fine low save from a curling Judge shot and then did the same from a fierce effort from Benrahma. Brentford recycled again and when the ball was lifted in, it was met by Yennaris with a header eight yards out, but he nodded straight at Oxley.
The Southend goalkeeper had ensured the game was still alive at the break and he was back in the action immediately after the restart. He was luck to see Benrahma fire a loose ball over the bar after failing to gather a Judge shot, albeit the work of the goalkeeper definitely affected the finish. A save moments later from a deflected Benrahma effort was more comfortable and Judge had a shot blocked as the game ticked towards the hour mark.
Southend had a chance to level when a ball over the top from Simon Cox released Robinson through the middle but the attacker lifted his effort wide as Daniels rushed out. That came ten minutes in to the second half and just before a Mokotjo drive had risen over the crossbar but gave no real indication of the action to come with four goals in ten minutes, two for each side.
The equaliser for the home side came out of nothing when Robinson got away on the right and battled his way past Mepham, he cut back inside and shot, the ball looped off the recovering Brentford defender and over Daniels. McCoulsky headed in and was initially given the goal but it was deemed that the ball had already crossed the line and Robinson was credited with it. That could have been a springboard for Southend but instead Brentford hit back with two goals in five minutes.
The visitors went back in front two minutes after being pegged back with another debut goal. A corner was cleared but only back to Judge, the initial taker. He delivered a superb ball that Yennaris met on the volley, Oxley made a superb stop but Jeanvier reacted quickest to bundle it over the line and restore Brentford’s advantage. And 2-1 became 3-1 soon after when Benrahma’s display finally produced the goal it had been threatening.
The winger picked up the ball on the left and darted in to the box towards goal, he fed Mokotjo and when he got the ball back from a delicious back heel he lashed a shot past Oxley and in to the net. Benrahma’s first Brentford goal was one to savour and gave The Bees breathing space. He could have had it moments earlier when he cut in off the right and curled a shot towards the far corner, it looked set for the net but Oxley went full stretch to his right and kept it out.
If Brentford thought Benrahma’s goal had settled the tie, they soon had to think again. A ball in to the inside left channel released McCoulsky and he fired in a snap shot that sailed over Daniels and in to the net. The shot came in so quickly the Brentford goalkeeper had no time to react and the tie was alive again. And it was almost all square seconds later when John White headed a deep free kick back in to the danger zone and Klass met it with a powerful nod of the forehead, Daniels was beaten but the ball hit the crossbar and Brentford survived.
Harry Kyprianou failed to direct a header seconds later but that crossbar rattler was as close as Southend came, and it was Brentford that pressed on. A shot from substitute Sergi Canós was saved before a quick break ended with Judge firing over from 20 yards. The fourth goal that finally killed the tie came with five minutes remaining with Canós getting away on the right and weaving in to the penalty area, his shot was well saved by Oxley but Mokotjo was arriving to latch on to the loose ball and drill a shot back in to the net from 25 yards.
That knocked the stuffing out of Southend and Brentford could have had more goals in the dying minutes. A Mepham header was cleared and Judge fired across the face of goal. Even deep in stoppage time Canós got away and exchanged passes with Neal Maupay before cutting the ball back to Mokotjo but this time he fired over on the stretch. A fifth would have been the icing on the cake but it wasn’t needed for The Bees who will play in the Second Round of the Carabao Cup later in the month.
Southend United: Oxley; Demetriou, White, Kyprianou, Coker; Robinson, Klass, Dieng (sub Mantom 64 mins), McLaughlin (sub Kightly 83 mins); Cox (sub Ba 86 mins); McCoulsky
Subs (not used): Bishop, Bwomono, Turner, Hendrie
Bookings: Cox (31 mins), Dieng (57 mins)
Brentford: Daniels; Clarke, Jeanvier, Sørensen (sub Mepham 30 mins), Field; Woods; Benrahma (sub Canós 79 mins), Mokotjo, Yennaris, Judge; Forss (sub Maupay 70 mins)
Subs (not used): Bonham, Konsa, McEachran, Sawyers
Attendance: 3,645 (390 Bees fans)