Brentford’s run in the Emirates FA Cup came to and end at the Fifth Round stage as they were beaten by Swansea City. The Bees had complete control of the first half and held a lead at the interval thanks to a well-worked goal by Ollie Watkins. But the hosts turned it around after the break, scoring twice in a four-minute spell early in the second period. When Ezri Konsa was sent off a few minutes later there was no way back for The Bees. The eventual 4-1 score line was probably not a fair reflection on the game, but Swansea eased over the line with a man advantage.
For large parts of the afternoon it looked as if it would be Brentford making it through to the last eight rather than their hosts. They were deservedly ahead at half time and probably should have been further clear than they were. A fortunate equaliser, given as a Luke Daniels own goal, got Swansea level and when they scored again soon after, the game had swung in their favour and ended Brentford’s FA Cup interest.
The desire from both teams to get forward was evident from the first whistle. Brentford looked to overload on the flanks with wing backs Sergi Canós and Moses Odubajo pushing high up the pitch to support the attack. The Bees looked to play in Swansea territory, trying to stop the home side from passing through their midfield and limiting supply to the hosts attacking players.
With Brentford’s all-energy approach, and care of the ball when they had it, The Bees started the brighter. Swansea were forced back and looked to use the counter-attack when they could, particularly utilising wide attackers Daniel James and Bersant Celina. There was an early booking for Yoann Barbet when James got away and that led to a free kick that George Byers whipped across the face of goal, and just out of the reach of Oli McBurnie, but most of the chances were at the other end.
Canós and Kamohelo Mokotjo saw shots blocked inside the first five minutes and Saïd Benrahma fired well over after an exchange of passes with Romaine Sawyers soon after. A low Odubajo cross looked set to create an opening inside the six-yard box but it was blocked and when the shot eventually came in from Mokotjo, it flew wide. A low cross-cum-shot from Canós just eluded Neal Maupay as it flew past the far post and Odubajo forced Kristoffer Nordfeldt in to a low save as Brentford pressed.
Daniels had to make a low save from Celina and there were times when Swansea were able to pass their way in to attacking positions, but they were few and far between in the first half hour. More often the hosts were defending deep, looking to hold a good defensive line and trying to prevent Brentford creating really good openings. The Bees did have one when, after an attack looked to have broken down, Watkins won a tackle on the edge of penalty area and Canós surged on, his cross couldn’t find Maupay and the ball wouldn’t drop for Benrahma, who could only steer the shot over.
Watkins shot wide from distance after a nice turn soon after, but the goal was coming and it arrived just before the half hour. It came at a time when Swansea appeared to have an opening as Odubajo committed to win the ball back from Mike van der Hoorn and lost out, leaving space for Connor Roberts. But Roberts’ pass went straight to Sawyers and Brentford profited. The captain picked out Benrahma with a ball and The Bees had turned defence in to attack with a further pass to Maupay. Maupay bided his time and drew Cameron Carter-Vickers before playing Watkins in to space and he lashed past Nordfeldt to open the scoring.
The goal was a superbly executed and clinically finished one from The Bees and there was a low grumble from an already fairly quiet home crowd as the visitors tried to build on it. And the visitors went in for the kill before the interval. They pressed higher and higher, stopping Swansea getting any sort of momentum. The Bees had control of the midfield, forced mistakes from their hosts and went looking for goals. There were not many good chances, but Swansea’s defensive discipline was all that was keeping them in the game.
The Bees did have the ball in the net a second time when Maupay tapped home a Benrahma cross after some nice interplay on the left, but the French striker was adjudged to be offside. Benrahma lashed over from distance after picking up a miss-placed header from McBurnie and he should probably have played in Maupay or Watkins who had space to his right. There was still time before the break for a snap-shot from Watkins from the edge of the penalty area to flick the heels of Maupay as it flew through a crowd of bodies and just wide of the far post.
The Bees also looked to attack at the start of the second half but found themselves pegged back after a series of unfortunate events. The ball broke fortunately for the home side on the edge of the penalty area with Mokotjo and Julian Jeanvier trying to stop and attack and Konsa committed a foul as James tried to go through. Celina curled the free kick over the defensive wall and watched as it hit the post and then the back of a diving Daniels before settling in the net. Celina tried to claim it but the goal was, unluckily, given as a Daniels own goal.
Brentford looked as if they would respond immediately when Odubajo won the ball in midfield and set Benrahma away on the left, he found Watkins but the goal scorer was crowded out and saw an effort blocked as he tried to double his tally. The ball cannoned around and Maupay saw a header cleared off the line before Canós had a go and his effort was also blocked. Swansea breathed a sigh of relief and that sigh grew in to a cheer as they scored moments later.
Brentford tried to work a short free kick and Maupay was robbed by the irrepressible James. The Swansea man set off on a run at top speed and raced in to acres of space, no Brentford player could get close enough to tackle, or even touch him, and James dashed in to the box before finishing superbly past Daniels. Brentford attack had been turned in to a goal conceded within seconds and now they had a mountain to climb.
The Bees tried to respond, and Watkins shot wide after turning well, but Swansea had their tails up and sensed they could kill the game off. Roberts lashed over the bar and just past the hour mark they had a man advantage to go with their goal advantage. A loose pass from Barbet allowed James to intercept and as Konsa tried to retrieve the situation, he brought the Swansea man down. Konsa had already been cautioned but referee Stuart Atwell decided James had a clear goal scoring opportunity and showed a red card.
There was an opportunity for van der Hoorn from the resulting free kick but he shot wide. The third goal was not, however, long in coming as Swansea made the most of Brentford trying to reorganise and regroup. Celina weaved in off the left, burst through a couple of challenges and slotted under Daniels to give the home side a lead that, given the flow of the game, they never looked like relinquishing.
The Bees tried to change things up – bringing on Josh Dasilva and Josh McEachran to play in midfield and handing a debut to B Team defender Nikolaj Kirk as they switched to a back four. But even before that, Swansea thought they had a fourth. Celina was released in to space on the left and weaved in to the penalty area, Daniels saved his low shot but Roberts was there to tap in. everyone thought the goal had been given and lined up for kick-off but after a conversation between the officials, Roberts was pronounced offside and the goal was ruled out.
The changes had an impact. Kirk brought renewed energy on the right and with an extra body in midfield, Brentford were able to push on. They created openings. Watkins weaved through and forced Nordfeldt in to a low save, but his shot lacked the pace to really trouble the stopper. Sawyers then had a shot blocked and Dasilva blasted wide.
At the other end Kyle Naughton fired in to the side netting and there was a pair of shots from Byers that were blocked. Daniels also saved from substitute Courtney Baker-Richardson as the game became increasingly stretched. Nordfeldt saved at the feet of Watkins when it looked as if Brentford had an opening and Baker-Richardson then headed narrowly over his own crossbar from a dangerous corner.
Swansea’s fourth came in the dying seconds when James again broke away on the left, he burst in to the box and Celina set up Byers to shoot low in to the net from 20 yards. There was still time for Daniels to save from Celina, McEachran to have a shot blocked and for Maupay to blast over with only Nordfeldt to beat when a Barbet shot had dropped to him. The initial effort was blocked and it ricochet through to the striker, but he lifted an effort over. It summed up Brentford’s afternoon.
Swansea City: Nordfeldt; Roberts (sub Harries 90 mins), van der Hoorn, Carter-Vickers, Naughton; Byers, Grimes; James (sub Asoro 90 mins), Fulton, Celina; McBurnie (sub Baker-Richardson 77 mins)
Subs (not used): Mulder, Narsingh, McKay, Dhanda
Bookings: van der Hoorn (56 mins), Celina (67 mins)
Brentford: Daniels; Konsa, Jeanvier, Barbet; Canós (sub Dasilva 69 mins), Sawyers, Mokotjo (sub McEachran 78 mins), Odubajo; Watkins, Maupay, Benrahma (sub Kirk 69 mins)
Subs (not used): Bentley, Sørensen, Finnsson, Ogbene
Bookings: Barbet (5 mins), Konsa (48 mins) (second Emirates FA Cup booking), Sawyers (88 mins)
Sent Off: Konsa (61 mins) (suspended for one match, Hull City, 23 February)