Brentford let an early lead slip to end up on the wrong end of a five-goal game, losing 3-2 to Sheffield United. Neal Maupay had put The Bees in front inside the first six minutes but United hit straight back and had turned the game around to lead 2-1 by the quarter hour mark. Brentford responded well and a Romaine Sawyers shot deflected in off John Fleck to level it up just past the hour mark. But Leon Clarke slotted home inside the final 20 minutes to win the game for the visitors.
It was a game that Brentford may think they should have got something from. Having taken an early lead they let United back in quickly and then conceded again soon after drawing level at 2-2. The Bees continued to fight and could have got a third to take a point, but the visitors were not in charitable mood and saw out the win.
The game could hardly have started better for The Bees as they were a goal up within six minutes from their first real attack. Lewis Macleod won the battle in midfield and Sawyers played a pass that released Maupay in the inside left channel, he got away from John Egan and smashed a low left foot shot in to the net. That could have been something for Brentford to build on but, instead they found themselves behind within ten minutes.
The visitors could have equalised from kick-off when Enda Stevens got away down the left and cut the ball back for John Lundstram, but his shot smashed against the crossbar and bounced away. Oliver Norwood dragged the follow-up wide. That response from United was swift and incisive and it took them only another three minutes to level.
The won a corner on the left that was delivered by Norwood and the ball diverted off Ezri Konsa and in to the net. Jack O’Connell was in the vicinity but the ball went straight in off the Brentford man, who got slightly underneath it, and five minutes later the game had been turned around completely. Yoann Barbet’s attempt to clear a cross hit Lundstram and Kieron Freeman picked up the loose ball, he rolled it across to Norwood and the midfield man arched a shot over Daniel Bentley and in to the corner. The Brentford goalkeeper was left helpless by the placement of the shot and United had the lead.
And it was a lead they probably deserved at that point. The game had been even before Brentford struck and United’s response had been superb. They were winning the midfield battles and using the width of the pitch to good effect. Chris Mepham was working overtime in defence to make tackles and blocks and win aerial challenges but United were pressing for more.
A cross from the left should have led to a third goal when Brentford couldn’t clear and it fell to David McGoldrick ten yards out, but Bentley was out smartly to make a smothering save. The Brentford goalkeeper then kept out a looping header from Conor Washington. Later in the half an acrobatic effort from O’Connell flew wide and a free kick from Norwood flew in to the arms of the well-positioned Bentley but United went in at the break with a lead they had earned and deserved.
And it could have been even worse for The Bees as Lundstram and McGoldrick saw shots blocked in the dying seconds of the half after Brentford had failed to clear their lines. The Bees had played in fits and starts. At times they looked capable of opening up the visitors with some incisive interchanges on the edge of the penalty area but some of the movement of the ball was slower than they would have wanted and lacking inspiration.
Sergi Canós tried to provide a spark for The Bees with a weaving run that ended with a shot from 25 yards that whistled over. Alan Judge also saw a shot blocked before a Sawyers effort later in the half looped up for Canós to acrobatically volley over the bar. Canós also nearly created something just after the break when he battled with Freeman and won, allowing Maupay to set up Sawyers but the shot flew well wide.
That came after a difficult start to the second half for Brentford, who were being pushed back. When Washington got away on the left and played a clever reverse pass to Stevens, Brentford had to scramble the cross away before a McGoldrick shot was blocked and the same man saw another effort deflect inches wide. But Brentford introduced Emiliano Marcondes early in the second period and that gave the game a different dynamic.
Emiliano played close to Maupay and looked to find pockets of space where he could open the visitors up. He wasn’t always effective, but he did present a different problem for the visitors and from one of his blocked shots, Brentford levelled. The Bees recycled the ball, Sawyers burst in to the box and fired in a shot that flicked off Fleck and flew past Dean Henderson in to the net.
Brentford had been pressing and the game had opened up as they chased the goal, a pattern that continued after the leveller. Clarke should have put United back in front within minutes when he headed a Fleck cross wide when arriving late while at the other end Maupay’s effort from a Henrik Dalsgaard cross deflected wide and an Emiliano shot was blocked. United then broke quickly and Washington rode, just about, an agricultural hack from Josh McEachran to get in a shot that was blocked.
Egan headed a deep corner wide before Konsa made a vital headed clearance to top Clarke heading in. A looping effort from Fleck was then saved by Bentley but the goal United were threatening came moments later. They took a throw on the right that created more space than it should, Washington cut the ball back and Clarke was left in yards of space to feed an effort out of the reach of Bentley and in to the net. It was a simple goal for the visitors and proved to be a match-winning one.
Brentford reacted well to the goal and pushed forward, introducing Moses Odubajo and Josh Dasilva, but United sat in and provided a tough barrier to breach. Judge fired wide from distance and then fired just wide on the turn before forcing Henderson in to a low save from a free kick. Fleck fired wide at the other end but Brentford were doing all the attacking late on. They could not, however, find a goal and when Henderson saved a Dalsgaard flick, they had the win.
Brentford: Bentley; Dalsgaard, Konsa, Mepham, Barbet; McEachran (sub Dasilva 76 mins); Judge, Sawyers, Macleod (sub Odubajo 76 mins), Canós (sub Emiliano 53 mins); Maupay
Subs (not used): Daniels, Henry, Clarke, Oksanen
Bookings: McEachran (70 mins) (second of season)
Sheffield United: Henderson; Freeman, Basham, Egan, O’Connell, Stevens; Lundstram (sub Coutts 67 mins), Norwood, Fleck; McGoldrick (sub Clarke 60 mins), Washington (sub Sharp 77 mins)
Subs (not used): Moore, Stearman, Duffy, Johnson
Bookings: Basham (17 mins)
Attendance: 8,903 (1,301 away fans)