Brentford were denied a win at Sky Bet Championship leaders Leeds United by a late goal from central defender Pontus Jansson. The Bees looked set for a first away win of their league season as they led with two minutes remaining thanks to a Neal Maupay penalty. But Jansson headed home from a free kick in the 88th minute to ensure the spoils were shared in a 1-1 draw.
And while many may see it as a point gained, given Leeds started the day on top of the table, Brentford could have had more. The Bees had the better of the first half in terms of chances and on the balance of play and had opportunities to seal the win after Maupay had put them in front. But they left the door ajar and Jansson headed home at the death to give his side a point.
The teams matched each other up almost exactly for most of the contest. Both had one deep midfield player and tried to have a high starting position generally. The centre of the pitch was often left vacant as both teams pressed up the field, looking to win possession in opposition territory and prevent the other playing out. The early stages were competitive but not combative with high energy but few tackles and it was Brentford that probably had the better of it.
The Bees had a slightly more patient style than their hosts. Leeds looked to go forward slightly quicker and play through striker Tyler Roberts while Brentford’s midfield trio were on the ball more, particularly Romaine Sawyers. The Bees had the best chance of the first quarter when a pass from Sawyers allowed Sergi Canós a run at the defence, he slipped it wide to Maupay and the low shot flew just wide of the far post via the fingertips of Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
Chris Mepham saw a shot blocked for The Bees before Canós cut in off the left and let fly with an effort that was saved low down by Peacock-Farrell. Maupay also fired narrowly wide from 25 yards after finding space in the centre of the field. The visitors came within a whisker of taking the lead just before the half hour when Maupay found space and freed Ollie Watkins, he cut in to the box and let fly with a shot that deflected, looped over Peacock-Farrell and hit the crossbar. Maupay misjudged the ball as it dropped, failed to connect with an attempt to head in and then saw his shot saved by Peacock-Farrell.
Leeds were being forced in to mistakes in possession and the noise from the home crowd was turning from backing to grumbling. But they did have chances in the early stages with Mateusz Klich firing wide from distance after good work from Tyler Roberts. Roberts himself then got on to a Samuel Sáiz pass, turned well and forced Luke Daniels in to a low save with a shot. Luke Ayling tried to burst in to the box later in the half but he was halted by Watkins and the shot was blocked.
There were two chances for Sáiz at the end of the half for the home side. Firstly he failed to make a good connection with a cut back from the left. Moments later – after a spell of football-turned-basketball, where the possession exchanged between the teams in a small area at alarming speed – Sáiz got onto another ball from Ezgjan Alioski and fired wide at the near post. But a goal for the home side then would have been against the run of play. Brentford had momentum later in the half and probably should have had the lead.
Maupay fired in to the arms of Peacock-Farrell from an angle when a ball across goal, where Canós and Nico Yennaris were waiting, may have been the better option. Canós then had a low shot blocked before a superb pass from Sawyers released Henrik Dalsgaard in the right channel, he got in to the box and fired it low but Jansson cleared from underneath his crossbar. It wasn’t the first piece of last-gasp defending from the Leeds defender, nor the last, and kept the scores level.
But even from the resulting corner, the last action of the first half, there was a chance for The Bees. The initial delivery was cleared, Sawyers knocked it back, Dalsgaard headed on and Peacock-Farrell had to be alert to save at the feet of Mepham. Brentford also started the second half brightly with Watkins whipping a free kick just over the bar after Canós had been felled on the edge of the penalty area. Canós then had a shot blocked after cutting inside when a more direct run might have led to a better chance.
Despite Brentford’s promising second half opening, which included some nice spells of possession in dangerous areas, Leeds almost took the lead ten minutes after the break. A deep corner was headed down by Jansson and Kalvin Phillips spun inside the six-yard box and looked set to score but Daniels got a hand to it to push it on to the post and then dived on the loose ball. And that save proved to be even more vital when Brentford went ahead a few minutes later.
Brentford won the ball back in Leeds territory and Sawyers found Maupay, the next pass presented Watkins with a one-on-one and he knocked the ball past Peacock-Farrell before being taken out by the Leeds goalkeeper. Referee Jeremy Simpson waited to see if a goal had been scored and when he saw that it hadn’t, a penalty was awarded. Maupay took the responsibility and rolled the spot kick to the right of Peacock-Farrell as he dived left.
Brentford had the lead but the temperature was rising. Maupay was showered in missiles thrown by the home fans and Mr Simpson was attracting their ire. He had given Brentford a lot of free kicks and booked four Leeds players in the first hour. While the odd one may have been soft most were a result of Brentford just being slightly quicker and Leeds players being over enthusiastic and making infringements.
It did mean, however, that the home side got more decisions in the later stages and when Mepham picked up a debatable booking, Alioski delivered a free kick from the right, Liam Cooper beat Daniels to the high ball and watched as his header bounced just wide. That was a sign that Leeds would mount a strong response to going behind. They pushed forward and crated openings. Roberts turned a Jack Harrison cross wide and substitute Lewis Baker curled a free kick in to the side netting with his first kick of the ball.
Leeds were on the front foot but there were still errors for Brentford to exploit. When The Bees turned the ball over they were able to break and with Yennaris buzzing all over the pitch and Kamohelo Mokotjo imperious, there were lots of opportunities for Brentford to break. Peacock-Farrell saved from Watkins and a golden chance went begging soon after. Sawyers set Maupay away and he led a three-on-two break, the pass wide was a little under hit and when Watkins checked back, Jansson was able to make a block. The ball was recycled and Yoann Barbet weaved in to the box, but he was also stopped in his tracks.
Adam Forshaw had a shot blocked for Leeds and Daniels made a vital touch to divert a fierce cross from Jack Clarke away from Roberts, but the home side got their goal with two minutes of normal time remaining. Saïd Benrahma gave away a free kick on the left, Alioski delivered it and Jansson got away from the defenders to rise highest and head in. It all looked a little easy for the home side and particularly disappointing for The Bees, who had been pegged back.
That left a few moments for either team to win it and Leeds had the wind in their sails. Baker arrived late and looked as if he had headed home when he met another superb Alioski cross, but the effort bounced just wide. There was still time for Ayling to hack down Alan Judge and get a second yellow card, having earlier been booked for dissent, and that gave The Bees one more chance. The free kick was half cleared, Sawyers knocked it back but Dalsgaard misdirected his header straight in to the arms of Peacock-Farrell, which meant The Bees had to settle for a point.
Leeds United: Peacock-Farrell; Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Dallas (sub Clarke 70 mins); Phillips; Harrison, Klich (sub Forshaw 63 mins), Sáiz (sub Baker, Alioski; Roberts
Subs (not used): Blackman, Pearce, Shackleton, Baker, Edmondson
Bookings: Roberts (45 mins), Jansson (47 mins), Peacock-Farrell (61 mins)
Sent Off: Ayling (90 mins) (second bookable offence)
Brentford: Daniels; Dalsgaard, Mepham, Konsa, Odubajo (sub Barbet 76 mins); Mokotjo; Canós (sub Benrahma 76 mins), Sawyers, Yennaris, Watkins (sub Judge 85 mins); Maupay
Subs (not used): Bentley, Jeanvier, Macleod, McEachran
Bookings: Mepham (66 mins) (second of season), Odubajo (71 mins)