The Brentford B Team began their first season under the guidance of Flemming Pedersen, who had taken up the role just six months earlier after the departure of Lee Carsley. He took over from Kevin O’Connor, who had been leading the Development group in the absence of a full-time Head Coach.
The Dane’s first match in charge was against a team from the University of California on 9 July 2016. Jan Holldack continued his excellent form in youth football by getting two goals in the opening 20 minutes. Then a trialist, Jan Novak also got on the scoresheet alongside Justin Shaibu to round off a 4-1 win.
The Bees then set off for their first tour of the season to Vildbjerg, Denmark, for friendlies with FC Midtjylland and Odense Boldklub. Both games resulted in a draw, with each side agreeing to take penalties without the need for extra time. In both cases, Brentford emerged victorious.
Against FCM, Pedersen’s side had comeback from two goals down to draw 2-2 before a 4-3 win from the spot. It was a similar story when they played OB, this time going one-down and rescuing a draw thanks to Bradley Clayton. Another shootout then ended with Brentford on top, 7-6 the final score as Ellery Balcombe saved two of Odense’s kicks.
They arrived back in England with two of the country’s top teams to play before the end of July. First, a Chelsea XI that included the likes of Marco Marin and Patrick Bamford. The Blues were pushed all the way after Brentford’s Emmanuel Ledesma opened the scoring in the first half. Chelsea managed a late equaliser from the penalty spot in the final ten minutes but were under pressure for most of the game.
Manchester City then played host to the B Team for the first of three meetings throughout the 2016/17 season. Lee Carsley took charge of the City side in a first encounter with his former youth team for 10 months since being promoted to First Team boss at Griffin Park. The home team pulled off a narrow 1-0 win, with the then-new City manager Pep Guardiola watching from the sidelines. Captain Zain Westbrooke had The Bees’ best chance of the game with 15 minutes to go, striking from distance and watching it glide an inch or two over the crossbar.
Moving into August, the B Team made two away trips to West Brom and Chelsea before jetting off again to mainland Europe.
Albion fell 3-1 at the hands of Westbrooke, James Ferry and Marc Rio. Then another Chelsea XI were given a run for their money by Pedersen’s squad. Lukas Talbro put Brentford into an early lead, which was overturned by goals from Loic Remy and Dominic Solanke.
Brentford B spent some time in Valencia to round off the opening part of the season. A 5-2 defeat at the hands of Villarreal B, who play professional football in Spain’s third division, was a difficult test. In the searing heat, The Bees matched their opponents for the first 75 minutes before falling away rapidly and conceding two late goals to really unbalance the scoreline.
Their next game against Valencia Under-19s was to be a completely different test altogether. An opening half of few chances saw the hosts take the lead in the last moments of the first 45 minutes. Pedersen and O’Connor rallied their team, who came out after the break in search of a leveller. Their task was made harder when Reece Cole was dismissed with 18 minutes to go, a harsh second yellow card handed out to him in the middle of a scuffle in the centre.
The equaliser came in the dying seconds. A deep ball in from a corner landed at the feet of Danny Parish and he struck from distance into the top corner. The ball may have deflected its way through a crowd of players, but Parish was already off celebrating after a completing a 10-man comeback against the European Champions at Under-19 level.
🇪🇸 GOAL! #brentfordfc score! Danny Parish reacts quickest to the corner, takes a touch and smashes the ball into the net! (1-1) 85 mins— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) August 26, 2016