Your AFC Wimbledon v Brentford match report powered by Utilita
Brentford came from behind to make it through to the Carabao Cup Second Round with a win over AFC Wimbledon. On The Bees’ first trip to play their South West London neighbours in a competitive fixture away from home, they needed extra time to progress against the Sky Bet League One side. And they trailed for long periods after Paul Robinson had put the hosts in front in the first half. But Romaine Sawyers levelled after the break before goals from Ollie Watkins and Justin Shaibu – both netting for the first time in a Brentford shirt – got The Bees over the line.
And the visitors deserved to progress overall. They dominated the First Round tie before falling behind against the run of play and continued to hold the upper hand for most of a chilly August evening. But Wimbledon has an incisiveness to their attacking play – coupled with a defensive solidity – that meant they were always in the game. It took a fine strike from Sawyers to level it up and Watkins then converted in stoppage time at the end of the first period of extra time to put Brentford ahead. A late Shaibu goal to make the end result 3-1 probably gave the match the score line it deserved.
Brentford started the game brightly. The Bees were in the front foot from the first whistle and looked to push their hosts back. Their central midfield trio of Kamohelo Mokotjo, Sawyers and Nico Yennaris dominated the game and Wimbledon struggled to get out of their half for long periods of the first half. The home side were, however, expertly marshalled at the back by Robinson and time and again he was in the right place to make a clearance or a tackle.
The Bees had all the early chances – Watkins could have scored inside the first four minutes when, after good work by Yennaris and Neal Maupay, he curled a shot on to the roof of the net from the edge of the penalty area. A superb move in the inside left channel soon after led to Maupay flicking the ball in to the path of Watkins, he twisted and turned but could not get a shot away and the cut back was cleared. Mokotjo saw a shot deflect wide after Sawyers had won possession deep in Wimbledon territory and a fantastic ball from Yennaris set Maupay away soon after but a strong shoulder-to-shoulder challenge from Barry Fuller eased him off the ball, fairly in the view of referee Dean Whitestone.
The home side had hardly had a kick in the opening quarter of the match. They tried to release striker Lyle Taylor in the forward channels but with little success. Cody McDonald had seen a shot blocked but when the hosts went ahead 25 minutes in, it was very much against the run of play. It came from a corner that was drilled low in to the penalty area, Taylor and Andy Barcham saw shots blocked before Robinson poked a foot at the ball and saw his effort loop in off the far post.
Wimbledon had shown a few signs of looking to exploit the space in behind Brentford, especially in the full back areas, but the goal was a surprise and Brentford immediately went forward looking to level the game. Maupay fired wide at the near post after Mokotjo had played him in and Maxime Colin saw a shot deflect away before Harlee Dean’s header from the resulting corner was narrowly off target. A Yennaris shot dipped just over the bar before a fierce Sawyers effort was pushed away by George Long.
For all Brentford’s dominance of possession and territory that Long save was his first of the evening and came 37 minutes in and he was not tested again before the break. Dean saw a shot blocked and Maupay turned a Colin cross wide as the ball was recycled but Wimbledon could have snatched another before the break. First Dean Parrett nodded a Callum Kennedy ball across the face of goal and Anthony Hartigan then stung the palms of Luke Daniels in first half stoppage time.
The hosts led both the shot on target count and on the scoreboard at the break but Brentford had been dominant in almost every other area. The Bees had used Josh Clarke to good effect on the right with Watkins also joining Maupay in attack. But they had not managed to turn possession and territorial advantage in to a goal and set about putting that right in the second period.
Watkins had an early sight of goal for The Bees but Long save comfortably and the home side could have doubled their lead moments later. Kennedy delivered a cross from the left and McDonald got his head to the ball, Daniels kept it out at point-blank range and then combined with Yennaris to stop the follow-up and scramble the ball away. That superb piece of goalkeeping kept The Bees in the game and they kept looking for a leveller. Watkins shot wide again and Yoann Barbet was unable to convert a Florian Jozefzoon corner at the far post.
The game was starting to stretch as Brentford went looking for a leveller and Fuller shot over for the hosts before Parrett fired wide from the edge of the penalty area. Brentford tried to utilise that space by bringing Josh McEachran on to replace Mokotjo and that enabled them to open the game up. McEachran sat deep and picked his passes, creating openings for the willing runners in front of him.
Yennaris forced Long in to a low save and with 20 minutes to go, The Bees levelled. Maupay was the architect, battling on the right and finally getting away from Will Nightingale, who was tugging at his shirt, he then found Sawyers and the midfield man smashed in from 20 yards. That parity could have lasted mere seconds – a cross from the left from Kennedy caused The Bees problems, a shot from Kwesi Appiah was cleared off the line by Barbet and Fuller smashed the loose ball over.
But it was Brentford who had the upper hand, and were building on the momentum of the equalising goal. They would have taken a large step towards victory with 17 minutes to go but for an inexplicable decision from Mr Whitestone. Another delicious pass from McEachran put Jozefzoon in behind the home defence, he went to round Long and the goalkeeper stopped the ball with his hands five yards outside the area. As the players stood and waited, Maupay fired the loose ball over and Mr Whitestone pointed for a goal kick, giving no indication if he had played advantage, thought Long had not used his hands or was inside his area and leaving most of those watching very confused.
The Bees continued to push forward. Watkins had a shot blocked and Yennaris poked wide after Jozefzoon had nodded down. Yennaris then set up McEachran, who saw a shot saved, before screwing a shot wide from a Sawyers pass. Yennaris, who was constantly breaking beyond the ball and in to the box, then saw a shot blocked and a Dean effort deflected wide but missed chances almost cost The Bees at the death when Barbet nodded a Taylor cross just past his own post.
Six minutes of injury time couldn’t separate the teams and the game moved in to extra time. Both sides used their substitutes – making the most of the option to use four with the game going in to an additional 30 minutes – and it was Brentford who made the most of their strength in depth. They could have scored two within 90 seconds of the game restarting if it wasn’t for the excellent Robinson. He blocked an effort from Jozefzoon and then cleared a Sawyers shot off the line after the midfield player had burst on to a McEachran pass and rounded Long.
Long saved from Jozefzoon before Henrik Dalsgaard got on to another superb McEachran pass and squared for Watkins to fire wide from 12 yards. Dalsgaard forced Long in to another save soon after before Dean headed wide but just when it looked as if Wimbledon would get to the next interval level, Brentford struck. Jozefzoon played a corner shot and Watkins steadied himself before curling a shot in to the top corner from 18 yards. It was his first goal since a summer move from Exeter City and gave Brentford the lead they deserved.
Wimbledon tried to respond but that goal seemed give Brentford the confidence to put the game to bed. McEachran almost scored direct from kick-off but his effort drifted wide and Watkins had a shot blocked. Shaibu could have set up Jozefzoon after a run from deep but held on to the ball too long and when he eventually found his colleague, the shot went high and wide. Jozefzoon also had a shot blocked before the third goal came in the dying seconds. Wimbledon failed to clear a corner and Watkins fed the ball on for Shaibu to drill it low in to the net and seal Brentford’s passage through.
AFC Wimbledon: Long; Fuller, Nightingale, Robinson, Kennedy (sub Oshilaja 71 mins); Francomb (sub Egan 82 mins), Hartigan, Parrett; Taylor, McDonald (sub Appiah 67 mins), Barcham (sub Kaja 90 mins)
Subs (not used): McDonnell, Sibbick, Bellikli
Bookings: Oshilaja (85 mins)
Brentford: Daniels; Colin, Dean, Barbet, Chatzitheodoridis (sub Dalsgaard 97 mins); Mokotjo (sub McEachran 67 mins); Clarke (sub Jozefzoon 55 mins), Yennaris, Sawyers, Watkins; Maupay (sub Shaibu 99 mins)
Subs (not used): Bentley, Mepham, Cole
Bookings: Sawyers (60 mins)
Attendance: 3,329 (1,409 Bees fans)