March brought the B Team two fixtures in Wigan Athletic Under-21s and an Oxford United XI.
Kevin O’Connor’s team faced a stronger U21 side in the North West than they had back in November, but scrambled to a 1-1 draw. Chris Mepham scored his third goal of the season, which was cancelled out in the second half.
Oxford were a much tougher test as well, bringing a near full strength squad to Jersey Road. The away side got a late winner at the very end of a busy encounter to escape West London with a 3-2 scoreline. Reece Cole and Jan Novak scored the two home goals, Cole with one of his trademark free-kicks into the corner of the net. United snatched the win in the 87th minute, a deep cross evading tired legs in the middle and being knocked in at the far post.
The opening game of April saw Brentford exact revenge on Nike Academy for their defeat in October. A 7-1 drubbing of their opponents was a fine way to start the month for O’Connor’s young men. Justin Shaibu, who had been included in Dean Smith’s First Team squad for the past couple of weeks, netted a hat-trick as Luke Dunn and Jan Novak also scored braces themselves.
Later that week, Brad Friedel’s United States Under-20s squad also made the trip to Jersey Road. They were in England as part of their warm-up tour before the Under-20s World Cup in South Korea. At the end of 98 minutes of football, neither side could produce a winner and it ended 0-0. Later that evening, Saturday 9 April, O’Connor received the Sir Tom Finney Award at the EFL Awards in London.
A second trip to The Etihad Campus was next on the agenda for Brentford B. Another narrow defeat to City followed. Zain Westbrooke and Chris Mepham scored but it wasn’t enough as the home team’s quality shone through.
Spurs hosted The Bees next and were surprised to find themselves 2-0 down in 21 minutes. Shaibu scored a quick-fire double to put Tottenham in trouble at their own training ground. After half time, Tottenham flew out of the blocks and gave Brentford more than they could handle. An overwhelming surge of quality and precision allowed Hotspur to come away with a 4-2 win, an unlikely ending given the half time score.
A few days later, the Club was shocked to hear about the passing of Ugo Ehiogu. The former England defender and Tottenham coach died on 21 April, which brought an outpouring of tributes from Brentford and clubs around England.
The penultimate game of the season was against South African side Orlando Pirates. Played at Griffin Park, the behind closed doors match ended in a 4-1 win for Brentford. New boy Joe Hardy scored twice alongside a brace from Reece Cole.
Manchester City Under-23s were the last guests to Griffin Park under the lights for the 2016/17 campaign. A crowd of 1,465 fans, the biggest attendance of the year, came to watch an entertaining game that ended in City running out 4-2 winners. The scoreline was unreflective of the tie, which was a really close contest. Brentford pushed their opponents all the way until the season caught up with them and fatigue set in during the final minutes.
New signing Theo Archibald got his first taste of action in red and white stripes, with fans keen to see what the new boy had to offer. O’Connor also welcomed Manny Onariase back to the squad as his loan with Cheltenham Town has ended in surviving relegation from League Two. Despite these changes, Brentford couldn’t quite get enough momentum to snatch a victory but showed real courage to fight back twice from going behind.
You can read the thoughts of Robert Rowan and his take on the B Team season here.