Brentford B finished their first season with a 4-2 defeat to Manchester City Under-23 in an entertaining match in front of a large Griffin Park crowd. The two teams were evenly matched in the opening 45 and went in at half time all square after a first period that could have produced goals but didn’t. There was plenty of good football on display from two young teams in front of a crowd approaching 1,500 and the game sprung to life with four goals in eight minutes inside the final quarter. It looked as if the game might finish level but City’s Brahim Diaz curled in and Javairo Dilrosun made it 4-2 in the dying seconds
The visitors deserved their win over the course of the evening. Brentford had spells in the first half where they held the upper hand but City were able to move through the gears, especially after half time. Thierry Ambrose struck twice for the visitors but Brentford responded to falling 1-0 and 2-1 down. Zain Westbrooke curled in a superb goal and Reece Cole stroked home a penalty as The Bees levelled twice. But they could find no answer to Diaz’s strike and Dilrosun’s goal probably ensured the score summed up the gap between the teams.
The teams matched up with very similar formations at the start of the evening. Both had a solitary central striker, speedy wingers and a collection of central midfield players that were comfortable in possession. Westbrooke sat in front of the Brentford defence and looked to dictate play and, with the help of Cole and Raphael Assibey-Mensah in front of him, he set the tempo in the first half. Brentford’s full backs – Lukas Talbro and Iliais Chatzitheodoridis looked to get forward and join in the attack, helping wingers in front of them. The first chance of the night fell to Talbro when a Cole pass opened up the City defence and the Danish right back read it best but he fired across the face of goal.
Aaron Nemane headed over for City and Chris Mepham made an important tackle to stop Ambrose in his tracks when he was well-placed but Brentford started the brighter. They were dominating possession and territory and moving the ball up the pitch with purpose. The visitors, however, were more clinical with their possession and capitalised on any Brentford mistake. A loose Cole pass allowed Nemane a run at goal and his shot deflected wide and another quick break led to Dilrosun delivering a cross that Ambrose could not turn in.
Brentford’s attacking threat was often breaking down in the final third. The last or penultimate pass could not quite be made and City goalkeeper Kjetil Haug had a quiet opening 45 minutes. Cole curled a free kick over the bar and an Emanuel Onariase header was comfortably held by Haug before Joe Hardy was crowded out as he attempted to burst through.
As the half drew to a close City started to take control and should have gone in ahead at the break. Ellery Balcombe made a fine point-blank stop when a cross dropped to Will Patching ten yards out and the City midfield man let fly with a fierce effort, the Brentford goalkeeper pushing the shot out. Ambrose then turned a clever Dilrosun effort over on the stretch from close range as the visitors tried to turn the screw.
City then flew out of the blocks at the start of the second half and could have been a couple of goals ahead before the hour mark. Ellis Plummer flicked a header wide before Talbro made an important block to prevent Dilrosun converting a Nemane cross. Moments later Ambrose looked like he had opened the scoring with a drilled shot from 18 yards that beat Balcombe but bounced away off the post and a follow-up effort from Diaz curled just wide.
Dilrosun was starting to make a major impact on the game. He almost set-up a goal when he nutmegged Talbro and drilled in a cross but Chatzitheodoridis made a clearance inside the six-yard box. Dilrosun decided to go on his own when he got past Talbro soon after but his near post shot smacked away to safety off the near post. Jarvis Edobor crowded Ambrose out when he tried to get on to a loose ball and a long range shot from Rodney Kongolo deflected wide as City continued to hold the upper hand.
The goal City were threatening eventually came with 20 minutes remaining. And it was no surprise Dilrosun and Ambrose were involved. Dilrosun got away on the left and delivered a cross that Ambrose brought down and slotted under Balcombe to open the scoring. That looked as if it may open the floodgates as Ambrose then had a shot deflected wide and Balcombe saved from Diaz. But there was a twist to come.
Brentford had been pegged back in the second half. City had more players in attacking areas and The Bees could not get out. The long ball to Hardy came straight back and the home side were swamped in midfield. Archibald found some space to fire across the face of goal before City’s strike but Brentford’s equaliser was an unexpected as it was excellent. After a long spell of possession, the ball was worked to the left, Archibald fed Cole and he set up Westbrooke to curl home from 20 yards.
Unfortunately for The Bees, parity only lasted two minutes. City broke quickly and Sadou Diallo got clear, he picked a pass and Ambrose raced clear to lift a shot over Balcombe and in to the net. That could have finished Brentford off but the hosts responded again. Chatzitheodoridis led the charge, he burst forward, exchanged passes with Luke Dunn and lifted a cross in to the arm of Plummer. Referee Matthew Downey awarded a penalty and Cole sent Haug the wrong way to level it up again.
There had barely been time to draw breath with four goals in eight minutes and it seemed as if the game might be up for grabs. But it was City that took the initiative. A great Mepham tackle prevented the increasingly influential Diaz going through and when David Faupala let fly his shot hit his fallen colleague and bounced away. Cameron Humphreys shot over and Balcombe saved from Isaac Buckley-Ricketts after more great work from Diaz, Mepham smashed the loose ball off the line.
Brentford could have snatched the lead when a superb cross-field pass from Cole released Dunn on the left, his first-time cross was met by the arriving Marc Río but his shot flew over with the goal at his mercy. And that proved to be a crucial moment. Diaz went down the other end, danced away from a couple of defenders and curled in a goal that Brentford could not come back from. Dilrosun got the goal he deserved when he created an angle and drilled a shot across Balcombe and in to the corner and there was still time for Buckley-Ricketts to head wide and Tom Scott to save from Archibald before Mr Downey brought a superb evening’s entertainment, and the Brentford B season, to a close.
Brentford B: Balcombe; Talbro, Mepham, Onariase (sub Edobor 58 mins), Chatzitheodoridis (sub Titov 89 mins); Westbrooke; Archibald, Cole, Assibey-Mensah (sub Río 67 mins), Novak (sub Dunn 63 mins); Hardy (sub Parish 83 mins)
Subs (not used): Kyriatzis, Jatta
Manchester City Under-23: Haug (sub Scott 80 mins); Oliver (sub Kongolo h/t), Antwi, Plummer, Humphreys; Davenport; Nemane (sub Buckley-Ricketts 61 mins), Diaz, Patching (sub Diallo h/t), Dilrosun; Ambrose (sub Faupala 80 mins)