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West Bromwich Albion 1 Brentford 1

Bees earn a point thanks to late goal

3 December 2018

Lewis Macleod came off the substitute's bench to head home a stoppage time equaliser as Brentford drew with West Bromwich Albion. The Bees had battled hard to stay in the game in the first half as the hosts dominated, missing some clear-cut chances. They then recovered after going behind inside the final 15 minutes to hit back and earn a point with a 1-1 draw.

It was a draw that West Brom might consider as two points dropped. They had enough chances in the first period to win two games but failed to take any of them, largely thanks to some resolute defending from The Bees. There were brave blocks, headed clearances and a few good saves from Daniel Bentley which meant that Brentford could have won the game with chances they created in the second period. A goal from Harvey Barnes was a setback but Brentford recovered and Macleod’s goal gave them a share of the spoils.

West Brom went on the attack from the first whistle and probably should have been two up within five minutes. The first chance of the evening was a golden one as Barnes broke in to space on the left and could not be caught, he fizzed a ball to the back post where the arriving Jay Rodriguez could only divert it over the crossbar from two yards. The striker was stretching and under pressure from Rico Henry, but he would have expected to convert the chance.

Rodriguez had another chance soon after when Matt Phillips pulled a lofted pass in to him but a weak effort was saved by Bentley. The Brentford goalkeeper was then well-position to save a curling Jake Livermore effort as the home side dominated the opening exchanges. Brentford were pushed back, unable to make progress up the pitch and forced to defend.

West Brom started the game with three attackers spread across the width of the pitch. Barnes was the main outlet on the left with Hal Robson-Kanu tucked in on the right. That meant most of their play went down the left and when Brentford started to get some midfield possession and stop the ball to Barnes, they came in to the game. The Bees also could have scored when a clever Josh McEachran pass gave Ollie Watkins an opening, but his curling effort deflected just past the post.

There was a spell in the first half when West Brom were struggling to clear their lines. Brentford’s solidity defending in attacking areas meant they were able to pen the home side back and it looked as if they might turn it in to the lead. But West Brom stood firm and then pulled Phillips out to the right to create a second angle of attack. They laid siege for a spell and a goal looked inevitable.

Rodrigiuez missed the target with a header before Livermore did the same seconds later. Phillips then missed his kick inside the area after good work by the increasingly adventurous Kieran Gibbs before Livermore lifted an effort over. A great cross from Phillips from the right was diverted past Bentley by Robson-Kanu but away from the arriving Rodriguez and Barnes lashed over from a tight angle.

Robson-Kanu probably missed the best chance of that spell when Gibbs got away on the left when Brentford failed to clear and lifted a cross in, but the striker missed the target with a header from six yards. Once again Brentford’s goal led a charmed life and that pattern continued as half time approached. When Bentley punched a cross clear, Phillips’ follow-up shot was saved, and Livermore failed to fire home the loose ball. Craig Dawson saw a long range shot blocked and Bentley saved a curling Phillips effort as the hosts pressed.

Barnes also missed the target from distance for West Brom before an effort from Livermore was blocked. Rodriguez also missed the target with another header before another Livermore shot was blocked. In the dying seconds of the half, Phillips let fly from 25 yards and his shot flicked the top of the crossbar on the way over.

But while Brentford had been second best on the evening in terms of shots, possession and territory, they did get to the break all square. And they were not completely dominated. When Brentford turned the ball over and moved in to space there were signs they could find an opening with the right final pass, which had not come. The Bees did have the odd sight of goal with Emiliano Marcondes seeing a shot blocked and Romaine Sawyers firing over the bar, but they had been mostly forced to defend and were doing all the could to hold a solid shape with and without the ball.

And The Bees looked to build on that at the start of the second half, probably creating their two best openings. Sawyers had a sight of goal after good work on the right involving Henrik Dalsgaard and Watkins, but he lashed over from 22 yards. Watkins then found space to shoot inside the area after a quick break ended with him wriggling free, but the low shot was weak and saved by Sam Johnstone.

The home side had been forced in to a change at half time with Dwight Gayle replaced Robson-Kanu. That should have injected even more pace in to the West Brom attack but seemed to unbalance them and they lacked the same zip in possession in the early stages of the second half. Sawyers deflected a Rodriguez effort wide and a long range shot from Tosin Adarabioyo hit a defender and flew off target but, in general, the second half was more even, with Brentford perhaps shading the third quarter of the contest.

And just past the hour mark, they could have taken the lead. Moses Odubajo – on for Henry, who was making his first start for 14 months and looked like his old self on many occasions before he limped off after a heavy fall – got away on the left and cut the ball back perfectly for the arriving Emiliano, the shot was true and looked set for the net but Johnstone stuck out a hand to push it wide. The corner was worked short but the shot from Sawyers was blocked.

Ahmed Hegazi had seen a shot blocked for the home side after a corner was half cleared but when the first goal came 12 minutes from the end, the home side were not threatening. And it was a goal that owed a little to fortune. West Brom overloaded on the right and the cross came in from Phillips, as Gayle shoved Ezri Konsa to the floor, a touch from Odubajo sent it in to the path of Barnes, Chris Mepham blocked the first shot but the second flew in to the top corner to give the hosts the lead.

That could have been a killer blow for The Bees, but they regrouped and found their rhythm again. They had played the better football in the second period, moving the ball quickly and looking to use the flanks. The introduction of Saïd Benrahma gave them fresh legs and Macleod followed soon after as Brentford pressed on.

Alan Judge curled a free kick inches over the bar before a Macleod shot fizzed wide as West Brom retreated, wary of The Bees. But the weight of bodies in the box couldn’t stop Brentford equalising. A throw in was worked from the left to the right and Emiliano delivered a cross, Macleod rose ten yards out and powered a header in to the bottom corner to level it up.

The goal came a minute in to stoppage time and that left a few moments for either team to win the game. Gayle steered a Gibbs cross wide but as Emiliano tried to defend the cross he suffered an injury and had to leave the pitch on a stretcher. That left Brentford a man down for the dying moments and Gayle saw a shot deflect wide as referee Darren Bond allowed the game to continue in to the 100th minute.

But Brentford could even have won it at the end. Benrahma ended the game as the central striker and his movement enabled Brentford to counter-attack. A couple of exchanges gave Neal Maupay a chance to shoot inside the box, but the effort was blocked and Brentford had to settle for a point.

West Bromwich Albion: Johnstone; Adarabioyo, Hegazi, Dawson, Gibbs; Phillips, Morrison, Livermore; Robson-Kanu (sub Gayle h/t), Rodrigiuez, Barnes

Subs (not used): Myhill, Brunt, Mears, Barry, Hoolahan, Harper

Brentford: Bentley; Dalsgaard, Konsa, Mepham, Henry (sub Odubajo 64 mins); McEachran (sub Macleod 83 mins); Watkins (sub Benrahma 78 mins), Emiliano, Sawyers, Judge; Maupay

Subs (not used): Daniels, Barbet, Mokotjo, Canós

Bookings: Dalsgaard (55 mins) (fifth of season), Konsa (69 mins) (third of season)

Attendance: 20,949 (665 Bees fans)

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