Bees end season with a win
Brentford ended their season in the best possible way as goals from Stuart Dallas and Alan Judge gave them victory over Stevenage.
The Bees had clinched promotion to The Championship last month but still wanted to end their Sky Bet League One season on a high.
After a first half that won’t live long in the memory, Brentford went through the gears in the second period against already-relegated Stevenage.
They got their goals late on to record their 1,500th Football League win.
Despite both teams already knowing their fate, they started as if they still had determination to end the season on a high.
Brentford started slightly the better but Stevenage would have been pleased with their opening as well and there were chances at either end.
A Clayton Donaldson shot deflected wide and the striker later headed a Jake Bidwell cross off target.
At the other end, Luke Freeman chipped over when well-placed and Roarie Deacon had a shot blocked after cutting inside.
After that reasonably bright opening, however, the game entered a long lull.
It was a bitty midfield battle with a lack of cohesion on both sides.
The loudest cheer of the first half was when Club Captain Kevin O’Connor came on to replace Tony Craig, who had a head injury, and make his 500th appearance for Brentford.
And O’Connor nearly scored at the end of the first period when he met a Dallas corner with a powerful header but Chris Day turned it away.
A George Saville shot deflected wide, leading to that corner, but in truth, the first half had little to offer as a spectacle.
The second was, thankfully, better.
Brentford came out after the break and moved up a few gears, moving the ball quicker and with more purpose.
They started to create chances – Day saved a long-range shot from Jake Reeves before Saville had an effort blocked and Jonathan Douglas was crowded out when he attempted to get a shot away inside the penalty area.
When Saville had another shot blocked and Dallas’ follow-up effort broke kindly to him, Donaldson had a great chance to put the Bees ahead – his shot was miraculously kept out by Day, hitting the post and rolling to safety with Stevenage appealing for offside.
Judge had a shot saved and Douglas missed the target with a volley.
Stevenage were playing mostly on the break but James Tarkowski had to blocked a shot from Freeman and O’Connor did likewise from Deacon soon after.
When a John Mousinho shot fell kindly to Freeman, the winger’s effort deflected inches over and a Fejiri Okenabirhie shot was blocked moments later.
Dallas saw a shot blocked after cutting inside and David Button made a fine save from a deflcted Michael Doughty effort.
Button then kept out another long ranger effort from Doughty as Stevenage tried to spoil the party.
But with 14 minutes remaining, Brentford made the breakthrough.
After good work in inside left channel involving Judge and Marcello Trotta, Douglas drilled the ball across the face of goal, Nico Yennaris arrived on the far side to cut it back and Dallas finished off.
The wide man nearly got his second moments later when he got on to a Jake Reeves pass and smashed a shot towards the top corner that Day somehow turned on to the crossbar and away.
Button saved from Freeman and then Lucas Akins but Brentford looked the team most likely to score.
A Jake Reeves shot bounced just wide and Trotta fired in to the side netting after turning well on the right side.
Smith missed the target with an acrobatic effort for the visitors and Reeves lashed over for The Bees as the game became incredibly open in the closing stages.
Judge sealed the win with a goal a minute from the end.
Brentford worked the ball quickly from a throw and Reeves fed it through for Judge to run on to it and slot home.
Reeves almost made it three but was crowded out when he tried to get on to a Judge pass and Yennaris blasted over at the death.
Trotta should have made t three when Bidwell returned a Judge cross in to the middle but the striker couldn’t get over the ball and headed off target from close range.
It proved irrelevant to the overall score and Brentford’s season, which has seen them take a Club Record 94 points and clinch promotion.
Brentford: Button; McCormack, Tarkowski, Craig (sub O’Connor 26 mins), Bidwell; Reeves, Douglas, Saville (sub Yennaris 69 mins); Dallas, Donaldson (sub Trotta 60 mins), Judge
Subs (not used): Lee, Adams, Diagouraga, Grigg
Bookings: Douglas (58 mins) (third of season)
Stevenage: Day; Obeng, Jones, Hartley, Johnson; Freeman, Mousinho, Doughty, Deacon (sub Okenabirhie 63 mins); Smith; N’Guessan (sub Akins 54 mins)
Subs (not used); Arnold, Burrows, Gordan, Reid, Banvo
Bookings: Doughty (44 mins), Obeng (67 mins)
Attendance: 11,393 (472 away fans)
By Chris Wickham