Poor second half display is costly for The Bees
Brentford B lost 4-1 to The Nike Academy at their home base, and England's National Football Centre, St George's Park on Friday afternoon.
Bradley Clayton opened the scoring early on and took Flemming Pedersen's side in with a one-goal lead at the break. A poor second half performance allowed their opponents to control the game and run out eventual winners.
With Lukas Talbro on international duty and Nathan Fox out injured, Pedersen was forced to move Kyjuon Marsh-Brown to right-back and push Clayton out wide for the first half. The Nike squad was made up of their usual mix of unsigned players from around the world as part of a scheme by the sports brand geared towards helping them find a professional contract.
Despite the final result, The Bees got off to a great start. In just five minutes, the away side had scored the opening goal. Some neat passing play down the left ended when Tom Field crossed low for Zain Westbrooke on the edge of the box. The captain flicked the ball on to Raphael Assibey-Mensah, who had the easy job of setting it back for Clayton to drill into the bottom corner.
Clayton was in behind twice more in the next 10 minutes, first shooting narrowly wide from the edge of the box before getting on the end of a Herson Alves cross to deflect the ball north of the apex.
The Academy side only created two chances of note in the early stages. The first was a neat cut inside from the left to curl at goal but Ellery Balcombe got across well to catch it. The second came from nothing, when a loose ball was pounced upon by Nike's lone striker and struck hard at goal. The ball fizzed past the post as Balcombe looked to just about have it covered.
Assibey-Mensah almost added another to his tally this season when he tried to finish a Westbrooke pass first time. The shot was deflected harshly to the left but somehow the Nike keeper managed to save it with his leg by knocking the ball on to the post and away.
The Bees almost saw their lead doubled after 35 minutes from a corner on the left. The ball in was controlled by Chris Mepham and set back for James Ferry, who volleyed at goal only to see the ball cannon off the bar and bounce back down into play.
The second half was one to forget for the B Team, and it started with a Nike equaliser. A long ball forward was controlled by an attacking forward just before he was barged into by Jarvis Edobor and the referee quickly pointed to the spot. The penalty was dispatched into the bottom corner.
Westbrooke and Clayton linked up down the right to provide an early scare for their opponents but the goalkeeper showed his class by taking the ball out of the air just before it reached Herson Alves at the far post.
With just under an hour gone, Marc Rio replaced Assibey-Mensah and could have scored immediately. Another Westbrooke pass into Clayton was shifted on to Rio who was clear of the defense, but his shot against the onrushing keeper needed more air time than it eventually got and was smothered safely.
When The Academy went down the other end, they were handed a chance to score a second when the referee awarded a free-kick right on the edge of Brentford's box as Field clipped his opponent on the way down the wing. The kick caught Balcombe flat footed and the ball sailed into the corner of the net.
Five minutes later it was 3-1. This time Balcombe couldn't hold on to a powerful shot from distance and the ball was collected and finished by one of Nike's wingers.
Substitute Danny Parish could have reduced the deficit late on but his volley into the ground was held by the goalkeeper. Racing down the other end, a simple ball into the box was smashed home at the near post to complete the 4-1 win for the hosts.
Brentford B: Balcombe; Marsh-Brown, Mepham, Edobor, Field (sub Parish 71 mins); Ferry, Westbrooke, Cole; Clayton, Assibey-Mensah (sub Rio 58 mins), Alves (sub Trialist 86 mins)