A superb goal from Josh Dasilva was not enough to give Brentford a second win in three days and they had to settle for a share of the spoils against Bristol City. The Bees had worked hard to get themselves ahead and seemed set for a win to follow Sunday’s at Barnsley as they lead with only three minutes to go. But City grabbed a leveller against the run of play and earned a point in a 1-1 draw.
Brentford will feel hard done by, having dominated most of an entertaining contest and taken the lead through Dasilva. They had the better of the chances and Daniel Bentley, returning to Griffin Park, after leaving for City in the summer, was the busier goalkeeper. But Andreas Weimann snuck between Brentford’s central defenders to head home for the visitors and give them a point.
There was a bright start to the contest on an autumnal Griffin Park evening. The teams set up in very different fashions with City’s 5-3-2 allowing them to get men in to attacking areas while having plenty of players behind the ball when Brentford had possession. Dasilva, part of Brentford’s midfield three, was able to find the most space in the opening exchanges, playing in the inside left channel and The Bees had the better chances in the first 20 minutes.
The closest either team came to scoring in the first quarter was when Sergi Canós picked up a half-cleared corner, he dribbled in to the penalty area and cut a ball back to Julian Jeanvier but Bentley made a smothering save. The next corner was played low and turned towards goal by Ollie Watkins but cleared inside the six-yard box. Bentley saved another effort from Watkins, this time deflected in to his arms, and held on to a low cross-cum-shot from Rico Henry as Brentford pressed.
Dasilva also had a shot blocked in a frantic opening that saw the game stretch as City tried to counter-attack at pace while defending deep. A deflected free kick from Josh Brownhill was saved at the other end and Kasey Palmer nearly opened the scoring in controversial circumstances. A strong challenge by the City attacker, one of many adjudged by referee Oliver Langford in an increasingly feisty first half hour to be fair when many thought otherwise, left Henrik Dalsgaard in a heap and Palmer had sight of goal from 22 yards but curled his shot wide.
Tommy Rowe saw an effort from a half-cleared corner scrambled away but most of the chances were coming at the other. City had an attacking threat, due to the way the game was being played, but Brentford were dominating possession and turning it in to openings. There was a great chance when Henry played a one-two with Kamohelo Mokotjo to set up a shooting chance from 20 yards, but he pulled his shot and it hit Watkins. The striker could not react quickly enough, and the ball bounced in to the arms of Bentley.
Canós almost created a goal for himself with a superb run from deep late in the first half. He weaved his way in to the penalty area and was about to pull the trigger before Nathan Baker made a superb recovery tackle. The support of Jack Hunt prevented any other Brentford player getting on to it and when Saïd Benrahma recycled the ball and played a one-two with Mokotjo, he curled a shot wide.
But City should have gone in ahead at the break. Henry played a terrible pass three minutes before the interval that allowed Weimann to put Palmer through with only Raya to beat. But the Brentford goalkeeper stood up big, denied Palmer and ensured the scores were level at half time, albeit both teams would have felt they could have been ahead.
The visitors made two changes at the break, switched to a four-man defence introduced Famara Diédhiou to be their central striker. It almost paid immediate dividends when Niclas Eliasson – the other substitute, who scored the only goal in the same game last season – drove down the right and delivered a cross and it took a great tackle from Christian Nørgaard to prevent Palmer shooting from ten yards. Bentley made a full stretch save from a curling Canós shot at the other end as the game continued at a breakneck speed.
There was no let up from either team as both chased the opening goal and it seemed a matter of time until one would come. City’s changes gave them slightly fresher legs, particularly in attacking areas, and they tried to stop Brentford playing out from the back. But when The Bees could get through, or, more often, around, particularly on the right, chances came.
Bentley, on his return to Griffin Park, almost presented Brentford with the opening goal when he dropped a deflected cross from Dasilva, Mokotjo nodded down and Nørgaard let fly but the City goalkeeper redeemed himself with a superb save high to his right. The corner was played in low and Brownhill’s clearance smashed in to Watkins but Bentley was alive to it and made a reaction save to his right. Brownhill then got on to a cross at the other end but nodded wide and Canós lashed over for The Bees.
The goal that had seemed certain since early on eventually arrived just past the hour mark. And quite a goal it was. The Bees broke quickly on the left after Nørgaard made a fine interception, but it looked as if the chance had gone when Canós overran the ball in the City area and it was hacked clear. But Dalsgaard picked out Dasilva with an incisive pass and the midfield player took aim from 22 yards, curling a shot over Bentley and in to the top corner. Dasilva’s first competitive goal at Griffin Park gave The Bees a lead they worked hard for and deserved.
That lead could have been doubled soon after when another Dalsgaard pass sent Canós away on the right in to an increasingly fragile City left back area. He picked out Mokotjo with a clever cut back, but the shot was blocked by Ashley Williams. But The Bees largely took the sting out of the contest after the goal. They kept the ball and denied City space, stopping the visitors building momentum. With Nørgaard protecting his back four – which became a five later on – City couldn’t create chances.
Brentford could have doubled their lead when Watkins intercepted a loose pass and put Benrahma away, but he ran wide after rounding Bentley and when the shot eventually came in from Henry it was blocked. Moments later, City were level. The goal came out of nothing as a cross was swung in from the right and as it dipped away from the defenders, Weimann arrived to bounce a header across Raya and in to the far corner.
City celebrated with gusto and were content to hang on for the draw, albeit Pontus Jansson had to block a shot from Diédhiou at the death. But Brentford pushed on to try and get the lead back. A deflected cross from Dalsgaard almost caught out a back-peddling Bentley, who tipped it just over his crossbar. Bentley also saved a Jeanvier header at the death as he did enough to earn his team a point.
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Jeanvier, Henry; Mokotjo (sub Jensen 69 mins), Nørgaard, Dasilva (sub Mbeumo 89 mins); Canós (sub Pinnock 83 mins), Watkins, Benrahma
Subs (not used): Daniels, Clarke, Valencia, Karelis
Bookings: Canós (81 mins) (second of season)
Bristol City: Bentley; Hunt, Moore (sub Eliasson h/t), Williams, Baker, Rowe; Brownhill, Massengo (sub O’Dowda 74 mins), Semenyo (sub Diédhiou h/t); Weimann, Palmer
Subs (not used): Mäenpää, Wright, Watkins, Pereira
Bookings: Hunt (81 mins)
Attendance: 11,433 (1,694 away fans)