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Match Reports

Brentford 1 Cardiff City 3

Bees lose early lead and slip to home defeat

13 March 2018

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Brentford were unable to capitalise on an early goal from Neal Maupay as they slipped to defeat against promotion-chasing Cardiff City. The Bees went ahead very early on and played some superb football as they went for the jugular against the team that will go in to the final stretch of the season in second place in the Sky Bet Championship. The visitors were ahead by half time, scoring from a set piece and then capitalising on a defensive error, and added a third after the break to make sure.

The 3-1 final score line was probably not a reflection of the possession or territory in the game but did show the difference between the teams in the penalty areas. After a tricky opening, Cardiff defended very well, throwing bodies in the way and allowing few clear sights of goal. They also made the most of any slight lapses from The Bees and took the points.

Brentford flew out of the blocks and went on the attack from the first whistle. They could have been ahead inside 20 seconds and did score within five minutes, making the most of their fast start. The movement of Maupay and pace of Sergi Canós worried the visiting defence and they were at the heart of everything Brentford did in the opening exchanges.

The first chance of the game came from the kick-off. The Bees went straight on the attack down the right, Canós got away from Joe Bennett and cut the ball back to Maupay but his shot was saved by Neil Etheridge with his feet. Maupay did not, however, have to wait long for his goal. Canós battled his way through on the right and played in Maupay, who beat the offside trip – taking advantage of a late step up from Bruno Ecuele Manga, raced clear and slotted past Etheridge. It was an excellent finish from the French striker and gave The Bees a goal their start merited.

It could have been two soon after when, following a quick free kick, Canós weaved in to the box and had a shot blocked. The follow-up from Ollie Watkins was also blocked as Cardiff’s defence showed signs of creaking. Going forward, however, the visitors were showing an early threat. They were direct often, playing long to Kenneth Zohore, and looked for set pieces, including long throws, but also had pace on the flanks and could play intricate football in the final third.

They almost scored from a Junior Hoilett corner that flicked the crossbar on its way over and it took a superb save from Daniel Bentley to deny Callum Paterson when he shot from ten yards after a great run on the left from Zohore. The Cardiff centre forward drifted all over the front line but the visitors generally played down the left and look to exploit any space they could find there. The early goal gave them little option but to attack and the game was end-to-end inside the first half hour.

Yoann Barbet fired a free kick in to a defensive wall and Watkins lashed the loose ball high and wide before a corner was cleared to Chris Mepham on the edge of the penalty area and his shot deflected wide. The resulting corner was worked cleverly short again and Watkins worked his way in to the penalty area but shot well wide. At the other end Bentley made a save from Hoilett after Zohore had again got away on the left and moments later the visitors were level.

Cardiff worked a corner short and the cross dropped to Zohore but his effort was blocked. Sol Bamba took over and swivelled superbly before arrowing a shot in to the corner of the net. Bentley had made a series of saves but was helpless as the ball whistled past him with the Cardiff defender belying his stature to finish excellently.

That could have rocked The Bees but they went straight back on the attack, looking to restore their lead. Cardiff were, this time, prepared for it and there were fewer good chances. Watkins was tackled by Sean Morrison when it looked as if a shooting chance had opened up and Nico Yennaris then saw an effort blocked. Canós looked as if he had got through and on to a Maupay pass but he couldn’t round Etheridge and the goalkeeper made a tackle.

Maupay shot over for The Bees and Etheridge made a good save to deny Canós after the midfield man had spun and got on to a Barbet throw. Bentley made a superb stop at the other end when Nathanial Mendez-Laing got on to a Zohore pass and clear, the Brentford goalkeeper winning the one-on-one battle. Mepham also had to make an acrobatic clearance deep inside his six-yard box when Morrison met the resulting corner with a downward header.

Just when it looked as if the teams would go in level at the break, Cardiff exploited a mistake to edge in front. Clarke failed to properly control a Bentley kick and was robbed by Hoilett, the wide man got away and cut the ball back for Paterson and he fired high in to the net past Bentley. The Brentford goalkeeper got a hand to the shot but could not keep it out and the visitors had the lead at the break.

That was a lead they looked to build on after the interval. Zohore shot wide when a long throw dropped loose and when Paterson nodded a corner down, The Bees had to scramble it away. Maupay had a shot blocked at the other end and Brentford looked as if they had worked a clear opening when Ryan Woods threaded a pass and Watkins got a sight of goal but Bamba came across to make a brave block and Cardiff survived.

That proved to be crucial when they extended their lead moments later. A free kick was thrown deep in to Brentford territory and headed down, as defenders dithered, Zohore nipped in to poke the ball home and give Cardiff a two-goal cushion. It could have been worse for The Bees as Bentley tipped a looping header from Zohore away and Morrison headed wide. Morrison then nodded a corner down and Zohore’s header was cleared off the line by Yennaris.

Brentford needed to make changes and introduced Lewis Macleod and Emiliano Marcondes Camargo Hansen, soon followed by Alan Judge. That gave The Bees a bit of forward momentum and they looked like they might create chances. Emiliano saw a shot deflect wide before John Egan’s shot on the turn was blocked. There was a moment of concern at the other end when Bentley had to make an aerial challenge to deny Zohore after a careless Romaine Sawyers back pass but most of the action was at the other end.

Egan had a header saved and then missed a golden chance when a Macleod free kick dropped loose inside the six-yard box, the centre back firing wide from close range. Judge had a shot saved after getting away from Manga and Barbet sliced wide as the seconds ticked down. Even in stoppage time Brentford would have salvaged something when Judge saw a shot blocked and the ball dropped to Egan ten yards out but he fired high and wide and Cardiff had the points.

Brentford: Bentley; Clarke, Egan, Mepham, Barbet; Woods; Canós (sub Emiliano 69 mins), Sawyers, Yennaris (sub Macleod 69 mins), Watkins; Maupay (sub Judge 76 mins)

Subs (not used): Daniels, Mokotjo, McEachran, Ogbene

Bookings: Mepham (66 mins) (second of season)

Cardiff City: Etheridge; Bamba, Morrison, Manga, Bennett; Damour, Grujić; Mendez-Laing (sub Traoré 88 mins), Paterson, Hoilett (sub Wildschut 82 mins); Zohore (sub Madine 77 mins)

Subs (not used): Murphy, Pilkington, Halford, Connolly

Bookings: Manga (18 mins), Damour (55 mins), Morrison (71 mins).

Attendance: 8,549 (984 away fans)

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