Second half goals from Jota and Lasse Vibe could not prevent Brentford from defeat in a thrilling match against Reading. For the third game in a row – after a 3-3 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion and 4-2 defeat to Preston North End – Brentford were involved in a memorable contest. Going forward The Bees were magical at times, creating numerous chances and cutting Reading to shreds. They were, however, unable to turn that in to three points due to some wasteful finishing, questionable officiating and a crucial defensive error that gave Reading a 3-2 win.
John Swift put Reading ahead during a first 20 minutes they dominated but Brentford roared back. The Bees should have been ahead by half time but let chances come and go. They did, however, convert two after the break as Jota and Vibe turned it round to put The Bees ahead. It looked as if Brentford would then go on to take the points but a throw in taken yards from the correct place allowed Reading to level and a mistake from Daniel Bentley gave Roy Beerens the chance to win it. And late Brentford pressure, with more chances coming and going, could not get the visitors a point.
The game started at a high pace. Reading were keen to play out from the back and stretch the game. They held a deep defensive line with two energetic wing backs either side of the three centre halves and a midfield trio that got up and down the pitch enabling the hosts to play through when Brentford pressed and stop The Bees doing the same. Brentford had a couple of early chances – Sergi Canós weaved his way in off the left and fired over before Andreas Bjelland failed to trouble Ali Al Habsi with a header – but Reading had the initiative.
The playing surface did not enable a slick passing game and much of the football from both sides was very deliberate. Reading seemed used to the ground underfoot and adapted better to it, using the dimensions of the pitch to good effect. From one quick break Swift payed Jordan Mutch in but his shot was palmed away by Bentley and the follow-up from Danny Williams was blocked. Garath McCleary cut inside and smashed over before a Mutch shot rose over the bar from 25 yards.
The goal Reading had been threatening came midway through the first half. McCleary, who had run the channels well, got away on the right and broke in to space, the offside flag stayed down – perhaps fortunately, as the Reading man attempted to pick out Mutch in the middle but Maxime Colin slid in to block the cross, unfortunately this only turned the ball against the woodwork and Swift arrived to smash home. The goal had been coming and Reading looked to build on it as they dominated possession and territory. Liam Moore headed over when well-placed before Lewis Grabban completely missed his kick when trying to meet a McCleary cross.
But as the game moved past the half hour mark, it changed. Brentford got themselves higher up the pitch with Canós and Jota closer to central striker Vibe. Nico Yennaris and Ryan Woods in the midfield also got further forward and The Bees started to force mistakes from the hosts. Reading started to look nervous in possession and with Brentford matching their work rate, the visitors took control. They could have levelled when Jota fed Vibe and he drove in to the box but the shot was blocked. And a number of other chances came and went before half time.
Jota had a shot blocked before Yennaris miss-directed a header from a Harlee Dean cross. Canós then dribbled his way in to the box but pulled a shot wide from 12 yards at the angle. The Bees were using the width of the pitch and Reading’s formation against them. Canós and Jota were taking up positions behind the wing backs and attacking the centre of the home defence. It meant the game was open and entertaining and Brentford were on top, albeit they couldn’t find a way to level.
A glorious chance came and went just past the half hour when Canós got on to a loose pass and set up Vibe, the shot was blocked and Yennaris arrived but his effort from eight yards was too close to Al Habsi and the goalkeeper saved. Canós then had a shot deflected wide when Bjelland nodded a corner back and when the next set piece came in, a Dean shot was blocked. Jota fired across the face of goal after great work by Josh McEachran, who was becoming more effective as the evening wore on and starting to run the game.
Vibe had two more good chances before the interval. First he had a shot blocked after more good play by McEachran and when Yennaris delivered a cross soon after, Vibe headed wide from six yards. Brentford had done enough to be level by the break and had contributed to an entertaining first half that promised more to come. They also had a shout for a penalty turned down when Canós appeared to be shoved over when in on goal but referee Keith Stroud waved the appeals away. Canós almost got the second half off to the perfect start for The Bees as he cut inside again but shot in to the side netting.
The second period continued as the first had ended. Brentford continued to attack with players high up the pitch, looking to exploit the gaps that Reading’s back three left in the channels. The home wing backs started the second period in a deeper position so there was less space for The Bees early in the half but the visitors still had control. A near post save by Bentley from a Jordan Obita free kick was a rare touch for the Brentford goalkeeper. Yennaris had a shot deflected wide and Tom Field headed the resulting corner on to the roof of the net before substitute Florian Jozefzoon set up the equaliser just past the hour mark.
Jozefzoon utilised the space Canós had been exploiting and raced away from Chris Gunter, he set a ball back in to the box and Jota, who had set the winger free initially, arrived to smash home the leveller. It was the least Brentford deserved and the visitors completed the turnaround two minutes later. A Woods pass allowed Vibe to breach the offside trap in the inside right channel and he set off towards goal before cutting back and firing in a shot that deflected off Gunter and beat Al Habsi. Brentford were rampant and Colin and Vibe almost combined to set up a third but Jota’s shot was blocked.
Reading needed to change things and a triple substitution altered the flow of the game. The hosts had fresh legs again and the home crowd had a lift. But they still needed a bit of luck to level. Gunter took a throw in around ten yards in advance of where the ball had left the pitch and hurled it down the line, McCleary – who had missed the target from distance moments earlier – got in behind Field and delivered a cross for Williams to poke home. Now it was Brentford that were rocking and Yann Kermorgant headed wide when well-placed.
The winner, when it came, was a moment to forget to Bentley. The Brentford goalkeeper has been almost faultless since a summer switch from Southend United and earned his team a number of points but when he came to clear a long ball he sliced a clearance, Kermorgant was able to knock the ball towards goal and Beerens tapped it in. It was a goal out of nothing and cruel on Brentford, who did not deserve to be behind.
Kermorgant fired wide for the hosts but Brentford regrouped and went again, chasing a leveller. A sublime pass from Yennaris put Jozefzoon in behind Gunter, he stayed on his feet despite a tug from the defender and got in a shot that Al Habsi saved, the winger then fired the loose ball towards the far post and saw it bend away, perhaps kissing the post on its way across goal. Vibe had a shot deflected wide and a Woods volley was saved as Brentford pressed. Jozefzoon tested Al Habsi with a free kick and was also involved as a late chance came and went. The excellent McEachran threaded a pass through and Jozefzoon got on to it, his touch laid it in to the path of Vibe but Al Habsi got a finer to the ball to prevent the striker shooting and he was then crowded out. As that chance went so did Brentford’s hopes of a point.
Reading: Al Habsi; Gunter, Moore, Blackett; Williams, Kelly (sub Kermorgant 73 mins), Swift (sub Evans 73 mins), Obita; Mutch; McCleary, Grabban (sub Beerens 73 mins)
Subs (not used): Jaakkola, Meite, Popa, Oxford
Bookings: Mutch (90 mins)
Brentford: Bentley; Colin, Dean, Bjelland, Field; McEachran; Jota (cub Clarke 80 mins), Woods, Yennaris (sub Kerschbaumer 84 mins), Canós (sub Jozefzoon 61 mins); Vibe
Subs (not used): Bonham, Egan, Barbet, Sawyers
Bookings: Canós (54 mins) (third of season), Jota (57 mins), Woods (72 mins) (seventh of season)
Attendance: 15,710 (1,506 Bees fans)