Your Brentford v Notts County match report powered by Utilita
Brentford exited The Emirates FA Cup at the Third Round stage as a solitary goal was enough to give Notts County a passage to the Fourth Round. The Sky Bet League Two side produced a superb defensive performance to limit Brentford’s chances and then struck just past the hour mark to earn their place in the last 32. Brentford hit the post twice, including once in the dying seconds, but didn’t create as much as they could have done with their possession and missed the chances they fashioned. They will now have to concentrate on their league campaign for the rest of 2017/18.
It was an afternoon to forget for Brentford. The Bees dominated the ball and spent most of their time in County territory but found a well-drilled visiting defence a tough nut to crack. Ollie Watkins and Emiliano Marcondes Camargo Hansen both hit the woodwork and Ross Fitzsimons was the busier goalkeeper but the goal wouldn’t come. And that enabled Jonathan Stead to step up and score the winner for the County.
The League Two side came to Griffin Park with an attacking mindset. While they packed the midfield, playing two banks of four and a man just behind lone striker Stead, they had a positive outlook and created a couple of early chances. It took a good tackle from Chris Mepham to stop Stead getting on to a cross from Elliott Hewitt. And when the ball came back in soon after, Stead shot wide on the turn.
The visitors tried to be compact when they didn’t have the ball. They were largely content to let The Bees dominate possession and Josh McEachran dictated play from the base of Brentford’s midfield with Kamohelo Mokotjo and Lewis Macleod busy and willing just in front of him. Macleod had Brentford’s first sight of goal after a burst through the centre of the pitch but his shot hit Neal Maupay and a clever run from the Scottish midfield man got him on to a lofted McEachran pass soon after but his flicked header was saved.
Brentford were happy to commit bodies to attack, their first instinct being to try and win the game. They tried to find wide men Florian Jozefzoon and Emiliano when they could as the centre of the pitch was congested but the well-drilled County shape was hard to penetrate. Their best opening was from a McEachran free kick that was met by Mepham but he headed straight at Ross Fitzsimons. A low corner from McEachran was dummied by Mokotjo and met by Mepham soon after but that effort was blocked.
An acrobatic effort from Stead landed on the roof of the net before Ryan Yates met a free kick eight yards out but headed over the bar. But as the half wore on, Notts were dropping deeper and Brentford began to take command. They did not, however, create too many chances due to the organisation and solidity of the visitors. And it took a good tackle at the other end from McEachran to stop Stead going through on to a Terry Hawkridge pass. Brentford broke quickly and a Jozefzoon shot was well saved by Fitzsimons.
The County goalkeeper was in the action again soon after when he went to his left to turn away a powerful Maupay shot. Emiliano then headed the resulting corner over the bar before Macleod fired off target from 40 yards after picking up a loose kick from Fitzsimons and returning it first time. A Mokotjo header was saved before an aerial effort from a corner by Mepham was cleared inside the six-yard box.
Yoann Barbet blocked a fierce Hawkridge shot and an effort from Mokotjo was blocked as the first half of the cup tie ended all square. That almost changed immediately after the re-start when Hawkridge set up Lewis Alessandra but his shot was high and wide. A sliced effort from Mokotjo was cleared at the other end before Jozefzoon and Emiliano set up a shooting chance for McEachran but the midfield man shifted the ball and the effort was blocked.
The second half had continued in a similar pattern to the first. Brentford had most of the ball and dominated territory but their chances were not clear cut and County were dangerous on the break. They were also rugged and solid defensively, which meant the afternoon was becoming increasingly frustrating for Brentford. That frustration almost eased when a Macleod shot was blocked and a follow-up from substitute Watkins beat Fitzsimons, but it hit the post and rolled across the goal with referee Tim Robinson signalling it had not crossed the line.
That escape proved to be even more vital for the visitors when they scored moments later. Ilias Chatzitheodoridis lost a midfield challenge and the ball was fed to Stead in the inside right channel, he cut on to his left foot and sent a shot past the diving Luke Daniels and in to the far corner. It was an expertly finished goal by the experienced forward and left Brentford’s FA Cup future in real jeopardy.
The Bees took the bull by the horns and immediately set about trying to put things right, Watkins was already on and he was soon followed by Alan Judge, making a return to First Team football after 21 months out with a serious leg fracture. Sergi Canós was introduced later as Brentford continued to chase the game. Maupay had a shot on the turn blocked and then an effort saved after good work by Emiliano before Fitzsimons tipped a rising Jozefzoon effort over the bar.
Watkins met a corner with a powerful header but Fitzsimons saved and Judge, who delivered that dead ball then saw a shot blocked. The industry of Judge and the pace of Jozefzoon was giving Brentford hope and The Bees tried to move through the gears. Judge fired over and Jozefzoon then had a shot blocked. The ball was recycled and Watkins fed it across the goal but Maupay poked wide on the stretch.
County were sitting deeper and deeper but looking for a goal on the break. And they almost got one when, following a midfield battle between Stead, Mepham and Josh Clarke, Jorge Grant went through with only Daniels to beat but the Brentford goalkeeper made a fine save to his right. Canós fired wide for The Bees and Maupay saw a header saved as time started to run down.
The final stages were attack against defence as Brentford pressed but County held firm. The visitors were happy to break up play and earned four second half cautions as they tried to slow Brentford down. That meant there were set pieces for Brentford to exploit and the last of those, in stoppage time, was met by Emiliano but his header cannoned away off the post. That summed up Brentford’s afternoon and ensured County progressed.
Brentford: Daniels; Clarke, Mepham, Barbet, Chatzitheodoridis (sub Canós 77 mins); McEachran; Jozefzoon, Mokotjo (sub Watkins 63 mins), Macleod (sub Judge 70 mins), Emiliano; Maupay
Subs (not used): Balcombe, Yennaris, Sørensen, Sawyers
Notts County: Fitzsimons; Tootle, Brisley, Duffy, Jones; Hawkridge (sub Noble 74 mins), Hewitt, Yates, Grant (sub Walker 90 mins); Alessandra; Stead (sub Smith 81 mins)
Subs (not used): Pindroch, Dickinson, Forte, Hunt
Bookings: Tootle (52 mins), Duffy (54 mins), Jones (68 mins), Noble (90 mins)
Attendance: 6,935 (1,086 away fans)