Brentford let first half lead slip to lose to Cardiff City
Brentford’s three-match winning run came to an end as they were beaten by Cardiff City. The Bees had the lead at half time thanks to a fourth goal in four games from Sergi Canós but they were pegged back early in the second period and never regained the momentum they had before the break. Peter Whittingham scored the winner for the hosts inside the final 15 minutes and there was no way back for The Bees.
The defeat also ended a four-match unbeaten run away from home and the hosts would argue it was probably the right result on the afternoon. Brentford, after a tricky start, had dominated long periods of the first half and the 1-0 lead at the break was the least they deserved. But it all changed in the second half. Brentford could not find the same rhythm and Cardiff turned it round to ensure they did not go the same way as Burton Albion, Bristol City and Leeds United in the past few weeks.
Cardiff’s style of play was obvious very early on. They had three throw-ins in attacking positions in the opening ten minutes and all were hurled in to the penalty area by Aron Gunnarsson. Sean Morrison got his head on one of them but it was comfortably held by Daniel Bentley. The home side were looking to get from back to front quickly. They tried to play in to centre forward Kenneth Zohore and use their wingers – Kadeem Harris and Julian Hoilett – to get at Brentford’s full backs.
Brentford’s task was to try and stop the hosts using Zohore in that way and they were largely able to do it. Hoilett shot wide after playing a one-two with Zohore and Bentley saved well from Harris. At the other end Yoann Barbet volleyed a Ryan Woods free kick wide and Jota was crowded out by Gunnarsson and Jazz Richards as he tried to get on to a Vibe chip. But, after an even opening, Cardiff were starting to take the upper hand as the first half reached its midway point.
Gunnarsson tested Bentley with a fierce shot that dipped and swerved late and the Brentford goalkeeper was just about able to keep it out. Ralls also forced Bentley in to a low save but Hoilett had the best chance for the hosts during their good spell. Harris cut inside on the left and the ball was worked out to the overlapping Joe Bennett, he delivered a cross that found Hoilett on his own ten yards out but he lashed it over the bar. Bentley saved again from Hoilett soon after but the game was changing.
Cardiff had pressed The Bees high up the pitch in the early stages but gaps were starting to appear. The home side were allowing Harlee Dean to step out of defence with the ball and the Brentford captain relished the space. Time and again he moved forward and started Brentford’s attacking play. Romaine Sawyers started to find space in front of him and The Bees were able to get Jota and Canós in to the game.
Canós had a sight of goal after good work by Konstantin Kerschbaumer but shot wide and Barbet had three attempts in a matter of seconds when he fired a free kick in to a defensive wall, then had a shot blocked that seemed to be arrowing in before blasting wide. Barbet went even closer soon after when he met a Jota free kick with a powerful header but Allan McGregor made a superb save from point blank range. McGregor then beat Jota to a Kerschbaumer cross as Brentford pressed on.
Dean and Canós then set up Jota for a shooting chance but it was deflected just wide. From the resulting corner, Jota had a shot blocked and Dean then moved forward before firing just over. The goal Brentford’s play deserved eventually came three minutes before the break. The Bees moved the ball up the pitch and Sawyers found Kerschbaumer inside the penalty area, he fed Canós and the low shot squeezed between defenders’ legs and nestled in the bottom corner.
Cardiff tried to respond before the break with Harris curling an effort over but Brentford had the lead and the initiative at the interval. They had been in complete control in the second half of the first period, quickest to every loose ball and capitalising as Cardiff were unable to stop them playing through. But seconds after the break the game changed. Whittingham delivered a corner from the left, Morrison got the run on the defence and rose highest to head down and in.
All of a sudden the game was level and Brentford’s initiative had gone. Bentley made a fine save to his right to keep out a Hoilett header and then a better one when Morrison met another Whittingham corner. Zohore shot wide after finding space when a long throw wasn’t cleared and Whittingham then wasted a chance when he got on to a Ralls pass but snatched at his shot and Bentley saved.
Even though Cardiff were creating chances, Brentford were still playing the better football. The hosts had sat in and defended deep and most of Brentford’s possession was in front of the Cardiff back line. They did, however, have the ball in the net just before the hour mark. Sawyers had a shot blocked after a long spell of possession and when the ball was recycled, Canós had a shot blocked and Kerschbaumer poked in the loose ball. The celebrations were cut short, however, as referee Darren Bond adjudged that Canós had handled the ball when it was blasted at him from point blank range.
Woods shot over and a Canós shot appeared to be heading in before it hit Yennaris before Rico Henry escaped down the right and delivered a cross that Bruno Ecuele Manga blasted against Morrison and was then fortunate to see it rebound to McGregor rather than the waiting Jota and Lasse Vibe. The Bees appeared to have the momentum when Cardiff scored what proved to be the winner. Hoilett found space on the left and delivered a cross, Zohore nodded it down and Whittingham had the time to turn and fired in to the bottom corner.
Bentley saved from Hoilett and kept out a Gunnarsson header but Cardiff sat even deeper after their second goal. Brentford were given the task of trying to break them down and were pressing hard. Vibe fired over before there was a great tackle from Richards as substitute Alan McCormack appeared to be bursting through. Dean was still leading the charge and put Vibe through in the inside right channel, he cut away from Manga but the shot deflected inches wide. Jota took the corner and delivered it too far and too high meaning Brentford’s last chance had gone and Cardiff had the win.
Cardiff City: McGregor; Richards, Morrison, Manga, Bennett; Gunnarsson, Ralls; Harris, Whittingham (sub Halford 90 mins), Hoilett; Zohore (sub Pilkington 89 mins)
Subs (not used): Murphy, Noone, John, Connolly, Lambert
Brentford: Bentley; Clarke, Dean, Barbet, Henry; Woods; Jota, Kerschbaumer (sub Yennaris 60 mins), Sawyers (sub McCormack 77 mins), Canós (sub Jozefzoon 77 mins); Vibe
Subs (not used): Bonham, Egan, Field, Hofmann