Brentford let a first half lead slip as they were beaten by Sheffield Wednesday. The Bees had the game under control at the break and were ahead thanks to a Bryan Mbeumo goal but were ultimately beaten as Steven Fletcher grabbed two for the home side. In an archetypal game of two halves, Wednesday were the better side after the break, scored two in four minutes and took the points.
Brentford will feel they should have got something from the game. They controlled long periods of the game and were deservedly ahead at the midway point but when Wednesday changed the flow of the game, The Bees couldn’t hold back the tide. They were made to pay for not getting a second goal when they had the initiative and for not reacting after conceding the equaliser and Wednesday did enough to get the win.
The game was open and end-to-end from the first whistle. It was played a tremendous pace with both teams piling men forward when they got the chance. All four full backs, including Mads Roerslev – starting for the first time in the Sky Bet Championship, looked to press on and there were gaps in midfield. Brentford had more of the ball and the slight territorial advantage in an opening spell that was halted for lengthy treatment to Julian Jeanvier, although he was able to continue.
The challenge on Jeanvier – a very firm one by Sam Hutchinson that wasn’t even punished with a free kick, let alone more – came in the second phase of a Brentford corner and The Bees had early set pieces they couldn’t exploit. A low cross from Josh Dasilva, deflected away from the arriving Kamohelo Mokotjo and in to the arms of Cameron Dawson was as close as they came in the first 15 minutes. At the other end Josh Murphy provided a threat on the right and saw a shot deflect wide. He also put in a low cross that Ethan Pinnock diverted away from David Raya but Jeanvier, back after a three-game suspension and replacing the injured captain Pontus Jansson, was well placed to clear.
As the first half developed, Brentford began to take control and by the time they went ahead just before the half hour, it was well deserved. Saïd Benrahma saw a shot blocked after being fed by Dasilva when a cross was half cleared before a clever Pinnock pass put Rico Henry in to acres of space on the left, he lifted a cross to the far post – perhaps a fraction deeper than planned – and Mbeumo volleyed wide. Brentford almost scored when Dasilva played a free kick shot, Benrahma lifted it deep to the far post, Pinnock headed down and stand-in captain Christian Nørgaard met it on the volley. But the effort was blocked and bounced behind.
The officials deemed that it was a corner to Brentford despite looking like Nørgaard got the final touch and his shot hit Tom Lees and seemed to bounce back off him. And that proved to be a crucial decision. Dasilva played the corner in to the six-yard box and Mbeumo got his head to it to divert it past Dawson and in to the far corner. The French attacker was given too much space and hardly challenged by Moses Odubajo, his nominal marker, as his flicked header put The Bees in front.
And it was a lead they merited. They had a complete control of the centre of the pitch with Dasilva roaming, Mokotjo hunting the ball and Nørgaard sweeping up and knitting the play together. Hutchinson was chasing shadows in the Wednesday midfield and Barry Bannan was unable to dictate play for the hosts. Dominic Iorfa made two or three vital tackles for the home side to prevent further chances and one on Benrahma prevented a clear run on Dawson that Brentford’s number ten would have relished.
Brentford maintained a level of control as the minutes ticked down in the first half, without ever really looking like doubling their lead. Benrahma lashed well over from distance after more good work by Nørgaard but other chances failed to materialise due to a pass going astray or a block being made. Atdhe Nuhiu headed over at the other end for Wednesday but Brentford’s half time lead was fully deserved.
The home side made a change at the break, bringing on Jordan Rhodes to play up front. They also came out for the second half a few minutes before both The Bees and the officials, indicating a short, and perhaps firm, half time message. They had more energy to their play at the start of the second half as well as more guile and movement in attacking areas, provided by Rhodes, and they created chances.
Hutchinson lashed over after a burst from deep before good work from Kadeem Harris set up a shooting chance for Murphy, but Henry made the block. A cross from the left was half cleared by Nørgaard and fell to Fletcher, who controlled, swivelled and volleyed just wide. Rhodes had a shot diverted wide by Jeanvier after being set up by Murphy and then fired straight at Raya from the inside right channel.
The best chance of that spell fell to Fletcher. He broke the offside trap, as other Wednesday players being in illegal positions confused the Brentford defence, and was faced with only Raya to beat but the Brentford goalkeeper made himself big and produced the save. With Wednesday pushing on there was also space for The Bees on the break and Dasilva lashed over from 20 yards after Ollie Watkins fed him on the run from midfield. A fine run from Roerslev ended with a cross that was controlled by Watkins, he shot on the turn but Iorfa blocked.
Hutchinson headed wide from a free kick for Wednesday, albeit the offside flag was raised and then lowered so it may not have counted. Harris then got away from Roerslev on the left and delivered a superb low cross that Raya pushed away from Rhodes and Fletcher and Pinnock was able to clear. The next time Harris escaped, Brentford were made to pay.
Harris burst through a tackle from Roerslev inside his own half and broke in to the space left on Brentford’s right. He put in a cross that looked set to reach Rhodes at the far post but Henry, darting back, stuck out an arm and a penalty was awarded. Fletcher took it and placed it down the middle as Raya dived to his right.
Four minutes later, Wednesday – and Fletcher – had turned it around completely. Harris was once again the architect, breaking free on the left after a quick throw, Fletcher found space in the box to control the cross, turn and fire past Raya to put his team in front. And it could have got worse for The Bees soon after when a cross was half cleared and fell to Adam Reach, but his effort was blocked.
With the lead, Wednesday started to close the game down. They had been excellent for half an hour, with a high energy approach that stifled Brentford in midfield and gave them a platform to attack. But with a goal advantage they were now content to let The Bees have the ball and invite them to break through.
When a free kick was half-cleared, Roerslev lifted a ball in, Jeanvier nodded down and Nørgaard met it on the volley but Dawson saved. Another Nørgaard shot was blocked with Brentford appealing for handball and Mbeumo was released in the inside left channel but lashed well over. Benrahma almost conjured something out of nothing with time running out but curled wide from 22 yards after turning away from the home defence.
Wednesday got deeper and deeper as the game entered stoppage time but banked in tightly to give Brentford no space. There was a last chance when a cross reached Henry at the far post, but his shot bounced across the face of goal and wide with no Brentford player arrive and tap it in. And with that chance gone, Wednesday had the win.
Sheffield Wednesday: Dawson; Odubajo, Iorfa, Lees, Fox; Murphy (sub Reach 63 mins), Hutchinson (sub Luongo 78 mins), Bannan, Harris; Nuhiu (sub Rhodes h/t), Fletcher
Subs (not used): Jones, Lee, Pelupessy, Börner
Bookings: Fletcher (74 mins)
Brentford: Raya; Roerslev, Jeanvier, Pinnock, Henry; Dasilva, Nørgaard, Mokotjo (sub Jensen 71 mins); Mbeumo, Watkins, Benrahma
Subs (not used): Daniels, Thompson, Sørensen, Žambůrek, Mogensen, Oksanen
Bookings: Henry (68 mins) (third of season), Pinnock (82 mins)