As we round off our look at the 2019/20 season, we begin with the one fixture in March which preceded the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in the campaign being put on hold until the end of June due to the seriousness of the virus.
But the one fixture in March for Thomas Frank’s side was certainly a memorable one; a 5-0 victory at Griffin Park over Sheffield Wednesday.
The scintillating display saw Josh Dasilva net the first goal when he side-footed home following a Wednesday defensive block, before Emiliano Marcondes hit the goal of the day when he thumped home from the edge of the Sheffield box into the top corner giving Thomas Frank’s side a comfortable and deserved two-goal advantage.
The third goal came just before the break when Marcondes thread an inch-perfect pass into the path of Bryan Mbuemo who side footed home, before another finish from Josh Dasilva in the second half. The win was rounded off nicely when Tariq Fosu got his first goal for the club with a finish in the 82nd minute.
June 20 would see the SkyBet Championship as well as the Premier League resume in very different circumstances as all matches were to be played behind closed doors and under strict protocol.
Though Bees fans were unable to see Brentford resume play in a West London derby, they would be cheering from their couches when the side put in a strong display to win 2-0 at Craven Cottage. A tight affair looked like it may well head for a 0-0 draw, but Brentford managed to sneak in front when Said Benrahma finished on 88 minutes. As Fulham then fought to get back level, Marcondes then made the points safe with a clever finish in injury time.
Brentford were playing with a confidence and they managed to push themselves further into contention for the automatic promotion places when they beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 at Griffin Park before following that up with a 3-0 win at Reading shortly after.
Thomas Frank’s side then hit another three goals as they navigated their way past Wigan Athletic, who had recently been put into administration, with Benrahma netting a hat-trick for The Bees as they continued their phenomenal run.
A spirited Charlton Athletic would stand in their way next at Griffin Park, and the away side went ahead on 8 minutes through Macauley Bonne. Charlton made it tough for The Bees to break them down, but they kept going and managed to equalise in the 75th minute through a Benrahma penalty. The momentum then swung with The Bees as they knew a winner could prove vital in the promotion push, and it came five minutes from time through the impressive Ethan Pinnock to head in and seal the three points.
Next, Derby County stood in The Bees’ way, but once again away from home Brentford were at their best as they picked up a 3-1 win. Ollie Watkins found the net on 3 minutes before Wayne Rooney set up Jason Knight who fired past David Raya to level things. With the score 1-1 at the break, Brentford then got off to the perfect start in the second period when Benrahma’s low shot squirmed underneath the Derby keeper to give Brentford a 2-1 lead. If the second goal came about with a good bit of fortune, the third was all the about the Algerian as he dribbled inside before unleashing a wonderful effort from distance into the top corner.
As the gap between the top two grew ever smaller, Brentford then hosted Play-Off chasing Preston North End at Griffin Park. A match which was tight and cagey throughout was won by a solitary goal from Watkins who managed to find some space on 4 minutes before despatching with precision having got the wrong side of the defender.
With eight consecutive wins The Bees then set their sights on a trip to Staffordshire to face Stoke City knowing a win would put them into the top two with West Bromwich Albion slipping up against Huddersfield Town. Unfortunately, Brentford’s good form would be halted by a Stoke side who would be very difficult to break down. Lee Gregory’s goal was the difference as he was able to slot in from close range following Raya’s initial save from Sam Clucas. Brentford went for it in the latter stages of the match with a number of attacking changes and Sergi Canos made a return to action following a long spell out injured, but they were unable to find a way past their opponents.
Going into the final day of the season, The Bees were still in with an opportunity of automatic promotion but had to rely on a slip up from West Brom who were at home to Queens Park Rangers. As for Brentford, they faced Barnsley who were battling to retain their place in the division in the final match at Griffin Park of the regular season.
Unfortunately, it ended in a 2-1 defeat as The Bees were second best in the first half and trailed at the interval. They looked as if they would come back to get a win that would give them second place when Josh Dasilva equalised inside the final 20 minutes. But with both teams pushing for the winner, Barnsley grabbed the crucial goal to send Brentford into the Play-Offs.
So, the Play-Offs it would be as the side had to dust themselves down to ready themselves for a two-legged encounter with Swansea City. The first match went against The Bees as they had Rico Henry wrongly dismissed for a tackle as Brentford were reduced to 10-men. With a man advantage Swansea then took a narrow lead into the second leg with a smart finish from Andre Ayew.
The Bees were buoyed going into the next match at Griffin Park in full knowledge that Henry’s red card had been rescinded therefore the talented full back would be available for the match. In the final ever First Team fixture at Griffin Park, it didn’t disappoint as The Bees flew out of the traps to get themselves back into the tie. The first goal came after just 11 minutes when a wonderful Mathias Jensen pass found the path of Watkins who made no mistake in levelling up the tie. It took them just another four minutes to turn the tie around when Marcondes found himself unmarked in the box before heading home to make it 2-1 on aggregate.
The second half started perfectly for The Bees when Mbuemo scored the last ever Brentford First Team goal at Griffin Park when he despatched on 46 minutes with an excellent low effort. Rhian Brewster would then make it interesting when he narrowed the score line to 3-2 with 12 minutes to go when he pounced on an uncharacteristic mistake from Pontus Jansson to lob the ball over Raya, but Brentford held out to set up a Play-Off Final encounter with fellow West London side, Fulham.
More than a year had passed since the first day of the season against Birmingham City, and with The Bees having confirmed their best season since 1947, it all came down to one match at Wembley Stadium for a place in the Premier League.
A fixture which lacked clear cut chances for both sides in an empty Wembley eventually ended up with it being decided in extra-time. The game was ultimately settled by a brilliant piece of opportunism. Joe Bryan scored a free kick from almost 40 yards, drilling it in to the near post from the inside left channel when everyone was waiting for a cross. He scored a second on the counterattack for The Whites and that was enough to get them over the line. Henrik Dalsgaard did get Brentford on the scoresheet in the dying moments of the game but it wasn’t enough as it was confirmed that The Bees would just miss out on a place in the top flight of English football.