Moses Odubajo strikes as Bees draw
A late goal from Moses Odubajo earned ten-man Brentford a point against Birmingham City.
The Bees were a man down 15 minutes in when Tony Craig was sent off and then a goal down when Paul Cadis converted the resulting penalty.
Birmingham had chances to put the game beyond Brentford’s reach but couldn’t do so and The Bees came back strong.
Odubajo raced clear to level it up and Brentford ended the afternoon wondering if they could have taken all three points.
Birmingham started the game brightly; they pressed forward in the early stages and spent most of the first five minutes in Brentford territory.
The Bees struggled to clear their lines in the opening exchanges, Alan McCormack had to make a clearance from a David Cotterill cross deep inside his six-yard box and other defenders were pressed in to similar actions.
Clayton Donaldson had a shot blocked as Birmingham continued to hold the upper hand but Brentford gain a foothold in the match as it reached the ten minute mark.
Jota, on his full debut on the right wing, was showing his ability on the ball, crosses and through balls had the Birmingham defence at full stretch and although Brentford had yet to trouble Darren Randolph, they would have felt they were right in the game.
However, that all changed 15 minutes in.
Craig failed to get a decent headed connection on a long ball forward and Donaldson got in behind him, the striker went down as the Brentford defender tried to recover and referee Robert Madley adjudged a foul had been committed.
The official pointed to the penalty spot and sent Craig off for denying a goal scoring opportunity.
Caddis stroked the penalty to David Button’s left as the goalkeeper went right.
Brentford reshuffled, with Harlee Dean coming on at centre back as Jota was sacrificed, and pressed forward.
For long periods of the first half The Bees did not look like they had a man less.
McCormack and Jake Bidwell got forward to add to the attacking ranks, Alex Pritchard floated around looking for space and Andre Gray tested the Birmingham back line with his pace.
The visitors’ defence, however, were able to deal with everything Brentford could throw at them.
And when they had the ball, they made their extra man count.
While by no means dominant, Birmingham had enough chances to have made the game safe by half time.
Wes Thomas placed a shot wide from 20 yards and David Davis shot well over before Lee Novak had an effort blocked.
The chances got better as the half wore on, Thomas somehow headed a Cotterill cross over from five yards and then forced Button to save at his feet.
Button then made a superb save to his left from Cotterill after the winger cut inside and, from the resulting corner, an even better one, keeping out a Novak header from point-blank range.
Davis shot over the bar and Novak blasted wide from distance as Birmingham seemed to be getting frustrated that they were only one goal ahead.
Button saved a header from Grant Hall late in the first half and Cotterill curled a free kick well over while, at the other end, Gray got a sight of goal only to see his effort blocked.
Brentford introduced Stuart Dallas at half time and looked to get on the front foot.
When they attacked they did so with purpose but Birmingham had quality when they went forward.
Donaldson had a shot blocked, a Cotterill effort was deflected wide and Button saved when James Tarkowski sliced a Caddis cross.
Substitute Demarai Gray had a shot blocked for the visitors and a Cotterill corner hit Jonathan Douglas and bounced just wide.
But Brentford were still in the match, and started to create chances.
A low Alan Judge cross was deflected just away from Gray and Pritchard had a shot blocked after wriggling free.
Judge saw one shot saved by Randolph and the Birmingham stopper spilled another just past his post.
Tarkowski made a clearance to prevent Novak getting in and McCormack made a vital headed interception when three men were behind him but most of the action was at the other end.
The Birmingham defence cleared dangerous crosses from Pritchard and McCormack and a Jake Bidwell header was blocked.
Gray had a great chance to equalise for Brentford when McCormack put the ball in to the box when a corner was half cleared, Tarkowski headed down and the striker was waiting but Randolph got out quickly to save and Bidwell headed the loose ball over.
Button saved a David Edgar header and Birmingham’s Gray shot wide while Douglas lashed over at the other end.
Brentford deserved to be at least level on the balance of play and they got an equaliser with 11 minutes to go.
Grounds failed to deal with a long ball and his miss control allowed Odubajo in, the winger raced clear, drew Randolph and lifted the ball over him to make it all square.
Brentford shrugged off the effects of playing a man light for more than an hour and ended like the team most likely to win.
Bidwell headed a Dallas cross wide and Pritchard had a shot blocked.
The closest they came to winning it was when Dallas let fly from 20 yards, it swerved late and almost beat Randolph but the stopper turned it away.
Brentford continued to press late on but couldn’t get the winner they would probably have deserved.
Brentford: Button; McCormack (sub Odubajo 73 mins), Tarkowski, Craig, Bidwell; Douglas; Jota (sub Dean 17 mins), Pritchard, Judge, Smith (sub Dallas h/t); Gray
Subs (not used): Bonham, Tébar, Toral, Proschwitz
Bookings: Bidwell (72 mins)
Sent Off: Craig (15 mins) (suspended for one match – Fulham, August 26)
Birmingham City: Randolph; Spector, Edgar, Hall, Grounds; Cotterill, Caddis, Davis (sub Johnson 87 mins), Novak; Thomas (sub Gray 55 mins), Donaldson (sub Gleeson 69 mins)
Subs (not used): Doyle, Robinson, Duffy, Brown
Attendance: 9,076 (1,579 away fans)
By Chris Wickham