Brentford booked a place in the Fifth Round of the Emirates FA Cup with a win over Barnet at Griffin Park. Goals from Sergi Canós, Julian Jeanvier and Neal Maupay settled the Fourth Round Replay in Brentford’s favour as the Vanarama National League side were unable to celebrate another memorable night. Although there were signs of the Barnet side that drew the first game 3-3 eight days prior, there was no doubt Brentford deserved to progress.
The hosts took control of the game early on and had it just about sealed by half time. Canós opened the scoring seven minutes in and Jeanvier lashed home before the break to give Brentford breathing space. Barnet were more inventive and adventurous after the break and got a goal but Maupay had his customary one by that point and the game was just about up. The visitors tried to respond but it is Brentford that will travel to Swansea City for a Fifth Round tie next week.
Brentford went on the attack from the first whistle. The first pass of the game from Romaine Sawyers put Moses Odubajo in to space to drive forward on the left and a pattern was established. Brentford poured forward throughout a dominant first half, scored early and went looking for more goals with Odubajo and Saïd Benrahma a particular threat on the left.
The opening goal came from a clever corner seven minutes in. Benrahma played a give-and-go with Josh McEachran that opened Barnet up and when the cross came in, Canós was there to poke home from close range. The goal was as simple as it was clinical, and the home side had their noses in front inside the first ten minutes.
That could have been one of many goals in the opening exchanges. Barnet defended well, mostly, blocking shots and making few mistakes but their there were still sights of goal. Canós had a shot blocked when he got on to a Henrik Dalsgaard cross before the goal and Odubajo fired just wide from another well-worked short corner just after. After a clever touch from McEachran, Maupay set up Benrahma, but he fired in to the side netting.
Medy Elito had a sight of goal at the other end when he got on to a half cleared cross, but he shot well wide and that was a rare attack from the visitors as Brentford piled on the pressure. When Maupay got on to an Odubajo pass and bundled his way past Elliott Johnson he toe-poked the ball between the legs of Mark Cousins and thought he had scored but the pace was taken off the ball and recovering defenders were able to clear. Odubajo had another shot wide and Maupay headed wide at full stretch when Dalsgaard delivered from the right soon after.
The visitors were being pushed very deep, holding on against a Brentford performance that was not hitting the very highest levels but still had them in complete command. Space was available every time the hosts attacked on the left with Odubajo and Benrahma tormenting the Barnet defence and it was just a matter of when the goals would come. Jeanvier had a header blocked from a deep corner but just past the half hour he made no mistake, arriving late to meet a perfectly arced free kick from Benrahma and power home from six yards.
The quality of the delivery from Benrahma meant Jeanvier only had to redirect the ball but he whistled it past the ears of Cousins with such ferocity that the Barnet goalkeeper may have lost his head had he got it in the way. And two could have been three minutes later. Another Benrahma set piece – this time a corner from the left – whistled across the six-yard box, just eluding Jeanvier. Canós put it straight back in to the middle and Dalsgaard was crowded out before Barnet hacked the ball away.
Canós headed a McEachran free kick inches wide before Odubajo cut in off the left to lash high and wide. But Barnet almost grabbed a lifeline just before the interval. A poor pass from Maupay allowed Mason Ephron-Clark to lead a break and he slipped in Jack Taylor to his right, the shot was low and true, but Luke Daniels watched it fade wide of his post. There was still time before the break for a deep cross from Mads Bech Sørensen to be headed down by Dalsgaard and David Tutonda looped an effort just over his own crossbar as he tried to prevent Canós scoring.
Brentford went in with a two-goal lead and came out after the interval on the front foot again. But the second half was slow to get going after an early incident that saw 21 of the players on the pitch and all three officials involved following an unnecessarily strong challenge from Elito. Referee Roger East blew for a foul and Canós, who was felled, reacted with players from both sides then having their say. When all calmed down, Elito was cautioned for the challenge and Canós and Dan Sweeney also booked for their part in the fracas that followed.
Barnet made a change at the break, their second, bringing Dan Sparkes – the man who scored the final goal in the first game – on. He gave them an outlet on the left and with more balance in their side and a more adventurous mindset, the visitors sought a way back in to the game. Sparkes curled a free kick inches over the bar and then delivered for Sweeney to meet with a header that flicked the crossbar on its way over.
There was a purpose to Barnet’s attacking play after the break. They looked to stop Brentford playing out of defence and looked to get the ball in to attacking areas when they won it. One ball released Shaquile Coulthirst in behind and he looked to toe the ball past Daniels, but the Brentford goalkeeper got a hand to it and diverted it away. Elito then had a shot blocked and one from Mason-Clark was saved by Daniels.
Mason-Clark looked set to reduce the deficit when Coulthirst found space and played him in but Odubajo got back to make a vital block. And that proved to a crucial moment as Maupay made the game safe just minutes later. Benrahma was again at the heart of it, creating the space on the left before crossing, Maupay couldn’t get a shot away first time but when the cross came in from Dalsgaard, via passes from Sawyers and Canós, he made no mistake, poking home his 20th goal of the season from eight yards.
The goal came 20 minutes from the end, but Brentford should probably have had a third before that. Although Barnet had more attacking intent after the interval, that left space for Brentford to exploit and they could have sealed the game much earlier. Canós, in particular, was enjoying the freedom and a run down the left, making Sweeney look very silly in the process, created a shooting chance for Maupay but Cousins saved low to his right.
Cousins denied Maupay again when he got on to a Dalsgaard cross, getting a hand to a lofted effort and pushing it around the post. And when Canós again worked his way past the increasingly hapless Sweeney a shot from Sawyers was deflected and then saved by Cousins. Sawyers got on to a loose ball and exchanged passes with Maupay but poked with from ten yards when he really should have scored.
Maupay’s goal then put Brentford three up but Barnet pulled one back immediately. Tutonda wandered forward from left back and got on to a loose ball in the penalty area before drilling a shot across Daniels and in to the top corner. It came out of nothing and gave Barnet hope when all seemed lost just minutes earlier.
But Brentford sought to snuff out the last remaining challenge as they pressed for a fourth goal. Substitute Chiedozie Ogbene should have provided it when he burst through a gaping hole in the Barnet defence and found himself with only Cousins to beat but his shot was weak and saved. A Canós shot deflected wide before Ezri Konsa nodded down a corner and it took a brave block to prevent Forss scoring.
With just minutes left, the game opened right up. Barnet pushed forward looking to find any way back in to the game and they caused more problems for Brentford than they had done at any other stage of the evening. With Brentford making changes – withdrawing Sawyers, who had controlled the midfield, Benrahma and Maupay – they had fresh legs but lost a little bit of their experience and the game became frantic.
Another Sparkes free kick curled just over the bar while at the other end Josh Dasilva saw a shot blocked and then lashed high and wide when Odubajo and Ogbene worked the ball back to him on the edge of the penalty area. Ogbene had another sight of goal in stoppage time but pulled his shot wide of the far post. That proved to not matter in the grand scheme of things as Brentford had already got the game, and a place in the last 16, in the bag.
Brentford: Daniels; Konsa, Jeanvier, Sørensen; Dalsgaard, Sawyers (sub Dasilva 77 mins), McEachran, Odubajo; Canós, Maupay (sub Forss 72 mins), Benrahma (sub Ogbene 72 mins)
Subs (not used): Bentley, Barbet, Mokotjo, Watkins
Bookings: Canós (50 mins), Konsa (63 mins), Sørensen (85 mins)
Barnet: Cousins; Alexander, Sweeney, Johnson (sub Boucaud 24 mins), Tutonda; Elito (sub Akinola 72 mins), Robson, Fonguck (sub Sparkes h/t); Taylor, Mason-Clark; Coulthirst
Subs (not used): Matrevics, Harrison, Payne, Bettamer
Bookings: Elito (50 mins), Sweeney (50 mins), Tutonda (89 mins)
Attendance: 6,954 (1,648 away fans)