Sam Saunders and Lewis Macleod on the scoresheet for Brentford in comeback victory
Kevin O’Connor’s Development Squad made it three wins in a row as they came from behind to beat Bristol City 2-1 at Griffin Park in the Under-21 Professional Development League Two South.
Shawn McCoulsky put The Robins ahead after 11 minutes as he raced in behind The Bees defence, cut inside and slotted home but second-half strikes from Sam Saunders and Lewis Macleod turned things around.
First Sam Saunders curled home a free-kick from 20 yards before Lewis Macleod scored the winner with just under 20 minutes to play as he let fly from 30 yards and arrowed a shot into the top corner past the helpless Jojo Wollacott.
Kevin made two changes from Monday’s win over Crystal Palace with Faiq Bolkiah and Chris Mepham coming in for Courtney Senior and Gradi Milenge while Saunders and Macleod both again started as they continued their injury comeback.
It was obvious to see from the opening stages what the retrospective gameplans were as The Bees dominated possession and looked for routes through an organised Robins backline while Wade Elliott’s side were reliant on the pace of McCoulsky up front to be their main attacking threat.
Jermaine Udumaga has a early shot blocked away before a moment of huge controversy as McCoulsky raced in behind and was fouled by Mark Smith in The Bees goal – there was no doubt Smith was the last man but with McCoulsky turning away from goal, and with only nine minutes on the clock, referee Tim Donnellan showed The Bees keeper just a yellow card. To add to The Robins sense of injustice Smith then pulled off a fine low save from the resultant Joe Morrell free-kick before Jake Andrews blasted over from the following corner.
There was nothing that Smith could do two minutes later, however, as McCoulsky used his pace to beat Mepham to a through ball before cutting inside the tall defender and sweeping low past Smith and into the back of the net.
Brentford were seeing the majority of the ball in the opening quarter of the match but were not playing with enough tempo to break through two narrow, solid ranks of black shirted players and it was The Robins who were looking the more threatening.
Andrews sent an effort wide from just outside the box, George Dowling brought the best out of Smith with a thunderous drive from 30 yards and Jack Batten flicked Andrews low free-kick just wide when in a good central position.
Despite failing to create too much in front of goal The Bees nearly went in level but for a fantastic save by Wollacott as Mepham powered a header on target from a Saunders corner.
Brentford started the second-half far brighter and had already gone close twice through Montell Moore, the first drawing a fine save by Wollacott the second flying well over, before they did level through Saunders – Andrews was penalised for handball on the edge of the box and Saunders stepped up to whip home the free-kick from 25 yards with Wollacott rooted to the spot.
Andrews fired straight at Smith from long-range while at the other end Udumaga saw an close-range effort blocked behind for a corner.
Dowling had a glorious chance to re-give The Robins the lead as he intercepted a square ball destined for Saunders, drove into the box but with only Smith to beat managed to pull his shot well wide from 12 yards. McCoulsky was the next to pass up a presentable sight at goal as he headed an inviting Morrell cross into the arms of Smith from 12 yards.
Elliott’s side were punished for those misses with 18 minutes to play thanks to a Macleod special. There seemed little danger when the Scottish midfielder picked up the ball well outside the box but the former Rangers man picked his spot from 30 yards and let fly with an unstoppable effort that was past Wollacott before he had a chance to move.
The Bees ended the game much the stronger and created a number of chances to make the game safe. Saunders saw a deflected effort run through to Wollacott and, although his next attempt was better struck, again the City goalkeeper was equal to it.
Macleod sent a low drive into the arms of Wollacott before Brentford substitute Daniel O’Shaughnessy had to be alert to head Andrews’ goalbound effort over his own crossbar.
That was the only real scare for The Bees who could have made the scoreline more comfortable as Udumaga pulled a shot weakly wide after good work by Josh Bohui. Saunders curled an effort over from 25 yards, Udumaga failed to hit the target from the edge of the box and in the dying seconds Wollacott showed more good handling to smother a fierce Macleod drive with Udumaga closing in for any rebound.
The win moves Kevin O’Connor’s side above Bristol City and to within a point of the leaders in the Under-21 Professional Development League Two South
Brentford: Mark Smith; Audrius Laucys (sub Daniel O’Shaughnessy 46 mins), Chris Mepham, Josh Laurent, Tom Field; James Ferry, Lewis Macleod; Montell Moore, Sam Saunders, Faiq Bolkiah (sub Josh Bohui 71 mins); Jermaine Udumaga
Subs not used: Bradley Clayton, Zain Westbrooke, Herson Rodrigues Alves
Bristol City: Jojo Wollacott; Charlie Harris, Zac Vyner, Jack Batten, Lloyd Kelly; Ash Harper, George Dowling (sub George Kellow 74 mins), Joe Morrell, Ravi Shamsi (sub Marley Bishop-Wisdom 74 mins); Jake Andrews (sub James Morton 90 mins), Shawn McCoulsky
Subs not used: Max O'Leary, Wade Elliott