Brentford continued their pre-season fixtures with a 3-2 win against Milton Keynes Dons. The Bees trailed 1-0 and 2-1 in Buckinghamshire but turned it around to take the win.
Neal Maupay grabbed his first goal in a Brentford shirt to make it 1-1 inside the first quarter but that was sandwiched by two from home striker Ryan Seager that meant The Bees trailed at the break.
But Brentford hit back in the second period. Ollie Watkins also got his first Brentford goal to make it 2-2 before Florian Jozefzoon scored the winner late on. While The Bees were not faultless defensively, they would once again have taken many positives from the match. Henrik Dalsgaard, Tom Field, Harlee Dean, Ryan Woods and Jozefzoon played the full 90 minutes, along with goalkeeper Luke Daniels, while the other starting players completed 67 minutes. This meant the match was a useful fitness exercise as well as showcasing some of Brentford’s attacking talents that enabled them to get the win.
The home side started brightly. They had more of the ball early on and were content to get it forward quickly. They looked to play in behind Brentford’s high defensive line and also found space between defence and midfield on a large pitch that suited their style. It only took them seven minutes to take the lead with a goal that was far too simple from Brentford’s perspective. A long ball released Kieran Agard on the right and he got away from Field before squaring for Seager to tap in.
The MK striker had already fired just wide for the hosts before his goal and then narrowly missed the target from 20 yards soon after. The home side could have taken an unassailable lead in the early stages and went close again soon after when Agard let fly from distance but Daniels made the save. MK had not allowed Brentford to get their wide players in to the game, the midfield battle was being shaded by the hosts and they deserved their lead.
But as the game reached the 20-minute mark, Brentford started to find their flow. Woods appeared to step a few yards deeper and was able to receive the ball from his central defenders and dictate play. Kamo Mokotjo had the first sight of goal for The Bees and let fly with a shot that Lee Nicholls pushed out and a few moments later Ethan Ebanks-Landell sliced a clearance over his own crossbar after Dalsgaard had ended an intricate move with a wicked low cross.
That only, however, delayed the equaliser. Jozefzoon delivered the corner, Dean headed down and Maupay spun to turn the ball home from close range. The French striker marked his first start in a Brentford shirt with a goal inside 21 minutes and levelled for The Bees. And Brentford dominated the first half from that point onwards, although they inexplicably went in behind.
That they trailed at the break was entirely their own fault as MK’s second goal came from a catalogue of errors. Watkins misplaced a defensive header and Field then turned the ball past the advancing Daniels, Agard beat the Brentford goalkeeper to the loose ball when he probably shouldn’t and Seager gratefully tapped home the loose ball. It was a defensive nightmare for The Bees and came when they had control of the game. That was a control they maintained until the break.
Jozefzoon could have equalised with a curling shot but Nicholls saved well and Scott Wootton had to turn a Dalsgaard cross past his own post when the marauding right back met a marvellous Woods pass with a first time cross. Dalsgaard was involved again soon after and worked with Josh Clarke to set up Maupay but his shot on the turn was blocked. Although they had started slowly Brentford had the initiative at the break, even though MK had the lead, and would have been confident of turning the game around in the second period.
It took The Bees just 11 minutes to turn that continued second half dominance in to an equaliser. And a fine goal it was. Woods spread the play and picked out Dalsgaard’s run on the right, he got away from Dean Lewington and drilled the ball across for Watkins to tap in at the far post. The goal had been coming. Although MK had one half chance – a George Williams header from a free kick that scarcely troubled Daniels – Brentford had come out after the break and continued to hold the upper hand.
Jozefzoon went close with a shot that deflected wide before the goal and Nicholls saved a Field free kick. Dalsgaard then met a Jozefzoon corner on the volley and forced the home defence to clear inside their six-yard box before Watkins levelled it up just before the hour mark. Brentford almost completed the turnaround soon after when Field got on to a Mokotjo cross and picked out Watkins but his shot hit Maupay and flew wide.
Watkins then hit a low near post shot that Nicholls held on to well before a series of substitutions from both teams affected the flow of the game a little. With Brentford introducing Jota and Sergi Canós as part of their front three, they looked the team most likely to take the initiative and it was no surprise when they went ahead inside the final 15 minutes. A corner was half cleared and Reece Cole picked out Jota with a clever header, the Spanish attacker weaved his way infield, playing a one-two with Canós on the way, and then laid it off for Jozefzoon to finish.
The Dutch attacker grabbed his third goal of pre-season – to go with strikes against Aldershot Town and Oxford United – and that proved to be the winner despite a response from the hosts. Gboly Ariyibi fired wide at the far post after good work from Callum Brittain and Brandon Thomas-Asante then fired wide after cutting inside. Ousseynou Cissé also had a shot blocked as MK tried in vain for an equaliser.
And the sixth goal of the evening almost went Brentford’s way. Jota tried to finish off a sweeping move with a shot from 20 yards but Nicholls saved and, when the goalkeeper then presented the ball straight to him, Cole then curled a shot wide from 20 yards. In the end Jozefzoon’s goal proved to be enough for The Bees to continue their pre-season campaign with a win in Buckinghamshire.
Milton Keynes Dons: Nicholls; Williams, Ebanks-Landell (sub Walsh h/t), Wootton (sub Downing 67 mins), Lewington; Upson (sub McGrandles 67 mins), Cissé; Agard (sub Thomas-Asante 83 mins), Rasulo (sub Brittain 58 mins), Ariyibi; Seager (sub Trialist 67 mins)
Subs (not used): Sietsma
Brentford: Daniels; Dalsgaard, Dean, Bjelland (sub Barbet 67 mins), Field; Mokotjo (sub Cole 67 mins), Woods; Clarke (sub Jota 67 mins), Watkins (sub Sawyers 67 mins), Jozefzoon; Maupay (sub Canós 67 mins)
Subs (not used): Bentley, Henry, Egan, McEachran, Vibe