Late drama as Brentford denied opening day win by stoppage time penalty
Ben Brereton’s last-minute penalty denied Brentford’s Youth Team an opening day victory against an impressive Nottingham Forest side in the U18 Professional Development League Two this afternoon.
The home side were dominant throughout but looked to be heading for defeat after goalkeeper Joe Boyd was sent off 20 minutes from time, 13 minutes later Bees’ striker Courtney Austin rounded substitute goalkeeper Jordan Wright to score the opener.
However in the final minute of normal time Forest were awarded a contentious penalty decision and Brereton calmly dispatched his spot-kick to earn his side a deserved point.
Jon De Souza’s starting eleven included five second-year scholars and six first-year scholars, with every player – excluding right-back Sean Bird – boasting previous U18 experience.
The Bees did have the better of the opening stages but lacked a sense of attacking urgency in their search for the opening goal and soon grew frustrated, drawing a number of unnecessary fouls.
And after 11 minutes, Forest had their first real chance of the game when Brereton’s lay-off to Elvis Otim forced Jordan Carey into low save, which cannoned off his feet to safety.
Austin should have put the Bees ahead soon after, but he could only manage to lift a tame effort over the bar from Kingsley Eshun’s cross.
A spell of Forest dominance saw Jake Taylor’s wicked free-kick headed behind and a penalty claim waved away after Kieran Hayes suggested his shirt was pulled in the area.
Brentford slowed down the pace of the game but were almost caught off guard 25 minutes in as Taylor found some space; his 25-yard effort ricocheted against the crossbar with Carey beaten.
In truth, this was more than the Bees could muster up in the first-half. They were prevented from asserting their passing style of play on the game, and when their attacks neared the penalty area, Forest crowded them out and won back possession.
Frustration got the better of Brentford towards half-time; defensive midfielder Tony Guppy was booked after 34 minutes; racking up a host of robust – if not necessary – challenges, with left-back Romayn Pennant receiving a talking to after hauling down the Brereton.
Two minutes into the second-half, the lively Brereton powered down the left wing, beat Sean Bird and forced Carey into another smart save.
Reece Cole - one of last season’s standout performers for the Bees – was introduced at half-time and his long balls out of midfield proved the only real chance of a goal.
Luke Dunn dragged a shot across the face of goal after 50 minutes, and the game was temporarily halted soon after as powerful winger Eshun received a boot to the face.
De Souza’s men then had Carey to thank once again as he made two great stops in quick succession on the hour mark; first from Taylor and subsequently substitute Liam Adams.
Midway through the second-half Forest were handed the game’s best chance on a plate as Taylor sent in a lovely near-post cross that Otim nodded mere inches over the bar.
The home side continued to press dangerously but were shaken when goalkeeper Joe Boyd was shown a straight red card for a kicking out at Brentford substitute Danny Parish.
Forest manager Jack Lester was forced into taking off Taylor in order to bring on goalkeeper Wright.
If anything the sending-off spurred them on, and another period of dominance ensued; Brereton was at the heart of the action once again but was still unable to break the deadlock.
Finally, after 84 minutes Brentford took the lead – albeit against the run of play.
Another long-ball from Cole beat centre-back Adam Crookes and fell to the onrushing Austin who rounded Wright and lifted the ball into the net.
Celebrations were cut short two minutes later though, as Cole became the second player to receive his marching orders, receiving a harsh second yellow card for kicking the ball away despite being ‘mid-kick’ at the time of the whistle.
In the final minute of normal time, Forest arguably got what they deserved when they were awarded a penalty after a suspiciously light touch felled Brereton.
He stepped up and sent the otherwise solid Carey the wrong way to level up the scores and earn his side a point.
Nottingham Forest: Joe Boyd, Ishmael Diallo, Joe Re (Arvin Appiah 88), Jordan Gabriel, Adam Crookes (c), Toby Edser, Jake Taylor (Jordan Wright 70), Tom Gamblen, Kieran Hayes (Liam Adams 23), Ben Brereton, Elvis Otim
Subs not used: Jake Willetts
Brentford: Jordan Carey, Sean Bird, Romayn Pennant, Tony Guppy (Reece Cole 45), Seth Owens (c), Chris Mepham, Kingsley Eshun (George Harmes 88), Giovanni McGregor, Courtney Austin, Julius Fenn-Evans, Luke Dunn (Danny Parish 62)
Subs not used: Pablo Gonzalez-Verdasco, Cameron Greaves