Bees come from two down to take points in five-goal thriller
Sam Saunders scored twice in injury-time as Brentford came from 2-0 behind to pick up three points at Tooting and Mitcham against Crystal Palace.
The Eagles looked to have a fourth win in five secured just after the hour thanks to goals either side of the break from Aaron Bissaka and Oliver O’Dwyer however three late goals sent the points back to West London.
Montell Moore pulled one back with 22 minutes to play with a stunning long-range effort before Saunders took centre stage in the dying seconds, curling a free-kick over the wall and into the bottom corner to level things and then, three minutes into added time, keeping his composure to fire home left-footed from 12 yards.
Saunders and Lewis Macleod continued their quest for full fitness with starting midfield roles and Jermaine Udumaga spearheaded The Bees front line with Saunders, Moore and Courtney Senior in behind him.
Crystal Palace started the match looking like a side that had not tasted defeat in their last four games and took the game to Kevin O’Connor’s side from the off.
With pace and strength running through their XI it was obvious early on what The Eagles game-plan was as they looked to free Bissaka behind a high Brentford backline at every opportunity.
It was the Palace striker who had the first chance of the match in the opening minute, shooting over from 25 yards, and he had another sight at goal less than a minute later as he broke free but scuffed his shot and Smith was able to block away.
The central trio of Macleod, Jan Holldack and Saunders were seeing plenty of the ball for Brentford but Palace were getting men in behind making it difficult to get through to goal.
Sam Saunders whipped a shot past Kleton Perntreou’s far post from 25 yards and Jermaine Udumaga sidefooted over from 12 yards after good work by Tom Field but apart from that The Bees fashioned very little in the opening half-hour.
Palace were looking much more likely to open the scoring and so it proved on the half-hour as Jacob Berkeley picked up a loose ball and played in Bissaka who kept his composure to slide past Smith from 12 yards.
The goal allowed Palace to drop a bit deeper and invite Brentford into long spells of possession well away from their own goal. Once The Eagles won the ball back they looked to break quickly and Hoare should have gone better as he slashed a shot wide after a lung-bursting forward run by Bissaka.
The hosts ended the first-half very much on the front foot and had chances to go in with more than just a one goal advantage: Wynter’s fierce drive was blocked by Gradi Milenge, Connor Dymond hooked a shot straight at Smith and O’Dwyer volleyed just wide at the back post.
Palace continued their dominance into the second-half and had already seen efforts from Gray and O’Dwyer repelled before they did extend their lead. Jason Lokilo’s deep corner came through to O’Dwyer and he headed home from 12 yards, the linesman satisfied that Bissaka was not offside standing in front of Smith.
Gray could have added a third shortly afterwards but he was denied by Milenge’s block and then Bissaka curled an effort just wide before Brentford came back into the match in the closing stages as the hosts tired.
Laurent has a goalbound effort blocked away by Hoare before the deficit was cut following a stunning bit of skill by Moore. The Bees attacker dummying away from a defender with his first touch and then smashing into the top corner with his second touch from 20 yards.
Palace were dropping deeper and deeper and Macleod and Saunders in particular were beginning to pull the strings going into the final quarter of an hour. Perntreou comfortably saved Laurent’s low effort then beat away Moore’s fierce drive from 12 yards with The Bees man sending his next attempt on goal curling just wide of the far post.
Gray had a chance to wrap up the points with seven minutes to play as he burst through two weak Brentford tackles but his low effort was blocked away by the legs of Smith before The Bees snatched the points in injury time thanks to Saunders brace to give Kevin O’Connor his first league win in charge of Brentford’s Development Squad.
Crystal Palace: Klenton Perentreau; Ben Wynter, Oliver O'Dwyer (sub Callum Sturgess 69 mins), Luke Croll, Zeki Fryer; Wil Hoare, Connor Dymond; Jason Lokilo (sub Spencer Forte 76 mins), Aaron Bissaka, Jacob Berkeley (sub Connor Hall 90 mins); Jake Gray
Subs not used: David Gregory, Andreas Brimley
Brentford: Mark Smith; Audrius Laucys, Gradi Milenge, Josh Laurent, Tom Field; Lewis Macleod, Jan Holldack (sub Zain Westbrooke 81 mins); Courtney Senior (sub Herson Rodrigues Alves 61 mins), Sam Saunders, Montell Moore; Jermaine Udumaga
Subs not used: Nik Tzanev, Reece Cole