Your Birmingham City v Brentford match report powered by Utilita
Brentford made it six points from two away games in five days as Birmingham City were beaten at St Andrew’s. A penalty from Ollie Watkins and a superb finish from Neal Maupay saw The Bees pick up a 2-0 win to add to the 3-2 victory at Preston North End on Saturday. And it was a win Brentford deserved. The game was not one high on quality but the football that was played was played by Brentford and they stood up the physical approach of their hosts to take the win.
The game was not one that will live long in the memory of any neutrals in the stadium. Birmingham’s industrial approach made it difficult for Brentford to really get in to their stride and the hosts were content to play long where they could. But as the game wore on Brentford started to find space and when Maupay won a penalty 17 minutes from time, Watkins converted it. The French striker then made the most of a defensive error to drill in the second to seal the win.
An early injury prevented both teams from establishing a pattern to their play in the early stages. Birmingham right back Maxime Colin went down inside the first ten minutes and, after a period of treatment, left the pitch on a stretcher. He was replaced by David Cotterill and that gave Brentford a different set of options on that side. Cotterill is better known for his attacking play and while his presence improved Birmingham going forward – and he took all the set pieces – Brentford looked to exploit the lack of a recognised defender in the back line.
The Bees had a sight of goal before Colin’s injury – Josh Clarke lifted the ball to the far post, Florian Jozefzoon fed it back and a shot from Lasse Vibe was blocked by Marc Roberts – but the change meant Birmingham had to look to go forward. Most of the game was played on Brentford’s left with Birmingham looking to get Cotterill forward and help Jota attack Clarke while The Bees wanted to get that home duo facing their own goal.
By the time the game reached the 15-minute mark the pattern of play had begun to be established. Birmingham sat off when Brentford had possession in their own half, Andreas Bjelland and John Egan often came forward and played in to midfield but when it started to look threatening, the hosts had a well-drilled and well-protected centre of defence in front of Tomasz Kuszczak. The home side mainly played long in to attacking midfield player Cheikh Ndoye, who looked to use his presence to unsettle The Bees. They tried to get their attacking players around the powerful attacker and were also looking to win set pieces and use Cotterill’s delivery.
Daniel Bentley saved a Roberts header before Jacques Maghoma had a shot blocked and Egan got in the way of the follow-up effort from David Davis. Defender Roberts then saw a header deflect wide and a shot blocked as Birmingham got bodies forward for dead ball situations. Ndoye nodded wide from another corner soon after.
When they weren’t defending set pieces, Brentford were dominating possession, albeit much of it was in areas that didn’t hurt Birmingham. They were, however, creating the better openings. Vibe could have scored when Watkins cut in from the left and found him ten yards out, he delayed his shot and then fired straight at Kuszczak. Kamohelo Mokotjo then sliced a volley wide when a cross was half cleared before miscuing a shot from the edge of the box after a slick move involving Clarke and Watkins.
Watkins shot wide at one end before Cotterill hit the defensive wall with a free kick at the other and Maghoma’s follow-up was well over. A fierce effort from Romaine Sawyers was blocked before the midfield player was involved in a move that led to Watkins blasting wide from 15 yards. Kuszczak was well-positioned to save from Vibe before a mad end-to-end 60 seconds. Vibe had a shot blocked before Maikel Kieftenbeld strode through midfield and rocketed a shot off the post from 30 yards. Brentford then broke and Vibe looked to have weaved his way through before a toe-end tackle from Cotterill prevented him getting a shot off.
The final save of the first half was made by Bentley, keeping out a low free kick from Cotterill. Ndoye could have put the loose ball in but failed to control and Brentford were able to clear. The home side also had the first sight of goal in the second half when Maghoma cut inside but his shot screwed well wide.
The first half had not been high on quality with misplaced passes, heavy touches and players sometimes appearing to be out of position. If anything, it was poorer after the break with players on both sides appearing tired. Birmingham were unable to string more than three passes together but their organisation made it difficult for The Bees to play through. That meant the early stages of the second half were not pretty.
Brentford did have the best chance of that period, however, when a ball over the top from Henrik Dalsgaard enabled Vibe to get in behind, he outmuscled Roberts and fired low but Kuszczak got down well to push the shot away. Unfortunately for Dalsgaard, he only lasted a few moments longer. He limped off midway through the second half to be replaced by Yoann Barbet.
Barbet was immediately in to the action, his cross found its way to Watkins and the low effort had Kuszczak scrambling across his line as it deflected inches wide. The resulting corner then dropped to Barbet 20 yards out but he screwed his shot wide. Brentford were starting to take control of the game. The hosts were struggling to stop The Bees running the midfield with Sawyers starting to dominate proceedings, picking his passes and finding holes.
The Bees then introduced Maupay to try to find the breakthrough. Vibe had probed all evening and tired out the home defence and Maupay came on to take advantage. He set up Jozefzoon for a shooting opportunity that flew wide, albeit referee Jonathan Moss raise the heckles of the Dutch attacker by signalling for a goal kick, and moments later he won the match-defining penalty.
Ryan Woods nodded the ball through and Maupay got away from Roberts, Michael Morrison slid in and Mr Moss pointed to the spot. The Birmingham defender may have got some of the ball but he looked as if he went through Maupay to get it and a penalty was the result. Watkins composed himself and drilled the ball in to the bottom corner, past the outstretched right hand of Kuszczak.
Birmingham tried to respond and went even longer to try and pressurise The Bees. Roberts headed a corner wide and Sam Gallagher pulled a shot wide before a magnificent header from Egan prevented Ndoye nodding in a Davis cross. Che Adams then volleyed wide.
Maupay, however, was proving a nuisance at the other end. He rolled away from Roberts again and let fly from 20 yards with a shot that Kuszczak magnificently tipped over the bar only for Mr Moss to signal for a goal kick. Moments later, when a ricochet fell to him, Maupay drilled low past Kuszczak in to the bottom corner from 18 yards to seal the win.
There was still time for Sergi Canós to weave his way through and almost add a third only for him to run in to Maupay and the chance was gone. At the other end Ndoye shot embarrassingly wide from 35 yards and Gallagher also missed the target from distance. The closest Birmingham came to a goal was in the dying seconds – Roberts met a Cotterill corner with a powerful downward header and Bentley pushed it away superbly. It meant Brentford had a clean sheet to add to their three points.
Birmingham City: Kuszczak; Colin (sub Cotterill 9 mins), Morrison, Roberts, Grounds; Kieftenbeld (sub Jutkiewicz 77 mins), Davis; Jota (sub Gallagher 57 mins), Ndoye, Maghoma; Adams
Subs (not used): Trueman, Gardner, Dean, Boga
Bookings: Davis (54 mins), Morrison (74 mins)
Brentford: Bentley; Dalsgaard (sub Barbet 65 mins), Egan, Bjelland, Clarke; Woods; Jozefzoon (sub Canós 85 mins), Sawyers, Mokotjo, Watkins; Vibe (sub Maupay 70 mins)
Subs (not used): Daniels, Mepham, Macleod, McEachran
Bookings: Woods (31 mins) (third of season)
Attendance: 19,045 (760 Bees fans)