A solitary goal from Julian Jeanvier was enough for Brentford to work their way past Cheltenham Town and in to the Third Round of the Carabao Cup. The central defender marked his second start for The Bees with his second goal and it was the only one of the evening as Brentford knocked the Sky Bet League Two side out at Griffin Park. Chances came and went throughout the 90 minutes but it only took one goal for The Bees to progress to the next stage.
A final score of 1-0 did not tell the story of the evening. The game was as one-sided as any seen at Griffin Park in recent times. While Brentford did not dominate for the entire 90 minutes, it was not far off. Cheltenham were pushed back for long periods and created almost nothing. It was due to a fine display of goalkeeping from Cheltenham’s Scott Flinders and some wayward finishing that there was only one goal but that was all it took.
The Bees were on the front foot from the first whistle. The two-division gap between the teams was evident in the early stages as Brentford kept control of the ball and played through and around their visitors. Cheltenham tried to pack their midfield but with Josh McEachran pulling the strings there were gaps for Brentford to find and they could have been a couple of goals up inside the first ten minutes.
It took a fine save from Flinders to deny Nico Yennaris after Chris Mepham had spread the play and Alan Judge had found the midfield man after an exchange of passes with Lewis Macleod. The shot from Yennaris was true and in the corner but the goalkeeper got down well. He was called in to action moments later to save in more comfortable fashion from Judge after Mepham had again played a raking pass and the Irish international had skipped past Josh Debayo.
For the first 15 minutes it looked like there was only one team in the game. Cheltenham could not get a touch on the ball and were massing in defence to try and create a yellow wall for Brentford to break down. Saïd Benrahma breached that wall when he got on to a McEachran pass, weaved past Aden Baldwin and in to the penalty area but Flinders was again equal to the low shot. A Tom Field effort was deflected wide soon after but as the half hour approached, Cheltenham were holding their own.
The visitors had little attacking threat – and Luke Daniels role had been to sweep up long balls forward and start attacks – but Brentford were finding it harder to cut through and create. Passes were not always finding their targets and it was harder to find pockets of space. When Brentford did find the space to play to feet in Cheltenham territory they threatened but it probably did not happen enough during a first half lull.
The half hour mark seemed to be the cue for Brentford to move up a gear and they started to lay siege to the Cheltenham goal. Josh Clarke, captain for the night, forced a save from Flinders with a low shot after a nice one-two with Macleod and Jeanvier headed the resulting corner wide. Benrahma then had a shot blocked before recycling possession and finding Macleod, he picked out Judge with a low pass but the shot was dragged inches wide. Judge then saw a shot deflected on to the roof of the net as the Cheltenham goal lived a charmed life.
The dam had to burst and it eventually did five minutes before the interval. The goal came from a corner won after another fine attacking move. Macleod released Benrahma on the right and after he had again burst forward he found Marcus Forss with a ball and the shot was well blocked by Johnny Mullins. The corner came in, Field flicked it towards goal, Forss looked set to score but couldn’t get the ball past the mass of Cheltenham bodies, he did however squeeze it out to Jeanvier and the French defender slotted home.
It was not a goal that will be remembered for its beauty but was one that The Bees deserved and one they had to earn. Cheltenham had barely mustered an attack in the first half and their only shot came when Manny Duku wriggled free in the penalty area but he blasted high and wide. Unfortunately for Brentford, Duku was in the action at the start of the second half. He went up for a challenge with Mepham and appeared to lead with an elbow. The Brentford man had to leave the pitch with a towel over his face while Duku was perhaps fortunate to escape with only a caution.
That incident early in the second half meant the game meandered in to life after the interval. But once Brentford got in to their stride, they were again on the attack. Benrahma almost lit up Griffin Park when he got on to a long pass from Yoann Barbet, left Debayo on the flow and played a one-two with Judge to set up a shooting chance but he curled his effort high and wide. Clarke fired across the face of goal soon after and Flinders saved from Macleod as Brentford pressed.
Barbet almost converted a Forss cross after a corner was played short and he poked another corner from Macleod over later in the half. Macleod also had a shot blocked and a Benrahma chip was saved as Brentford continued to press. And when Benrahma fired in to the side netting after a run forward from Clarke it was looking like a second goal wouldn’t come.
That meant Cheltenham were still in the game and they almost snatched a leveller from a rare attack. Ryan Broom got in to the penalty area and laid the ball back to Sam Jones to shoot, the effort needed a brave block from Yennaris to deflect it narrowly wide with Daniels scrambling. They went close again later in the half when a corner dropped to Baldwin at the far post and he bounced a shot towards goal but Jeanvier diverted it away with his head.
Most of the action, however, was at the other end. Macleod fired over the bar from ten yards after getting on to a Field cross and turning inside the penalty area and Benrahma volleyed over on the stretch when he met a cross from substitute Chiedozie Ogbene. Another Ogbene run set up a shooting chance for Judge but Flinders saved again. The resulting corner then dropped to Judge 18 yards out and his shot flew through a mass of bodied but Flinders again kept it out.
Ogbene had a shot blocked and a Benrahma chip was saved as Brentford entered the final moments with just a one goal lead. Barbet also had a shot blocked as The Bees continued to knock at the door in stoppage time. Even in the dying seconds, Brentford were pressing. Benrahma had a low shot saved and then, when The Bees broke, put Ogbene through with only Flinders to beat, the low shot was arrowing in to the corner but the goalkeeper was once again equal to it. It summed up the night but did not affect Brentford’s passage to the next stage.
Brentford: Daniels; Clarke, Jeanvier, Mepham (sub Barbet 50 mins), Field; McEachran; Benrahma, Macleod, Yennaris, Judge; Forss (sub Ogbene 75 mins)
Subs (not used): Bentley, Mokotjo, Sawyers, Watkins, Canós
Cheltenham Town: Flinders; Baldwin (sub McAlinden 86 mins), Mullins, Boyle, Debayo; Lloyd, Thomas, Tozer, Broom; Dawson (sub Jones 52 mins); Duku (sub Addai 65 mins)
Subs (not used): Lovett, Atangana, Forster, Jones, Clements
Bookings: Duku (47 mins)
Attendance: 4,384 (349 away fans)