Ethan Pinnock got his first Brentford goal and secured a point for his team away at Birmingham City. The Bees fell behind early on and were second best in the opening exchanges but responded well. Pinnock headed home a corner before the 20-minute mark and, despite Brentford having the better of the rest of the game, that was how it finished.
The Bees may feel they should have taken three points from the game. While they could have been a couple down in the opening 15 minutes, they had the upper hand for the remainder of the contest. They hit the post late on and had other chances come and go but could not find a way through and were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.
It was a difficult start to the afternoon for The Bees. Birmingham chose to play with the wind in the first half and almost got in on goal from kick-off when Scott Hogan blocked a Julian Jeanvier clearance. The danger was never fully cleared and a header from Maxime Colin from the halfway line bounced awkwardly and David Raya had to gather at full stretch when it looked as if the most unlikely of goals was coming.
The Bees were also forced in to an early change when Mathias Jensen limped off. Dru Yearwood came on in his place and with Josh Dasilva also missing, named as a substitute initially and then withdrawn from that role after the warm-up, Brentford’s midfield had a very different look. Shandon Baptiste made his full debut in the centre of the park, but it was Birmingham that dominated the early stages. They were ahead 13 minutes in, and it could have come earlier.
Jude Bellingham was involved often in the early stages for the home side and when he let fly from 20 yards after good work by Lukas Jutkiewicz the shot beat Raya and smashed against the post. The ball bounced loose but, fortunately for the visitors, a Brentford defender could clear. Jérémie Bela lashed a shot wide for the home side just before their goal, which came from a superb move on the left.
Bellingham moved inside and left space for Gary Gardner to move in to and he got free in the channel, his cross was dummied cleverly by Hogan and Jutkiewicz arrived to tap in. The dummy took Raya out of the game and Jutkiewicz was able to stick out a leg and toe-poke the ball in with Rico Henry trying to clear. The goal had been coming and Brentford had to regroup.
It could have got worse for The Bees soon after when Hogan got on to a long ball on the right, he was able to work his way in to the box, but Pinnock blocked the shot and Jeanvier hacked clear. The most positive aspect of Brentford’s first 15 minutes was that they were only one down. Saïd Benrahma’s only real touch was to handle to a long pass and referee Stephen Martin had blown his whistle before the shot was saved with Ollie Watkins screaming for a square pass. But from their first attack of note, Brentford levelled.
The Bees won a corner on the right and Emiliano Marcondes delivered it flat across the six-yard box. Pinnock peeled away at the back post and powered a header down past Lee Camp and in to the net. No-one could claim that Brentford deserved to be level, but they clinically took advantage of a set-piece and improved significantly from then on.
In the opening 20 minutes, Brentford had been unable to move the ball through midfield and had struggled to build any momentum. But Christian Nørgaard started to find space, he was able to get on the ball and dictate the play and Brentford got bodies forward. Birmingham were generally deep when they did not have the ball. They were happy to let Brentford play in their own half and hold a firm defensive position. That gave The Bees time to build play and when they got in to Birmingham territory, they were able to create.
A clever pass from Marcondes released Watkins in the inside right channel and his cross almost fell to Baptiste. The loose ball was returned by Benrahma to Yearwood, but his effort was blocked. Henry then got space on the left and was found by Yearwood, his cross found Marcondes but the shot was blocked and the follow-up from Nørgaard deflected wide. Marcondes also shot over and had an effort deflected wide from a Henry cross, albeit a goal kick was given, as Brentford pressed forward.
Ivan Šunjić shot over for the home side but, even with the wind, they were not able to build the same pressure as they did at the start of the contest. Raya had to save a Marc Roberts header from a corner with Hogan lurking and then hold on to a Bela free kick later in the half, but it was Brentford that ended the first period in the ascendency. And they could have gone in with the lead.
The Bees had two great chances at the end of the half and Camp had to be at his best to keep them out. The first stop was probably the better of the two as Camp stopped a shot from Watkins that looked like it would loft over him after the Brentford striker had got on to a Marcondes pass. Camp then went away high to his right to keep out a long-range effort from Benrahma and push it away from the arriving Marcondes.
Brentford would have been the happier side at half time. They had been forced to defend a lot of balls in to their box but had done it well and looked the more dangerous side in open play, particularly when they ball was on the floor. There were also appeals for a penalty waved away by Mr Martin when Dalsgaard tried to flick home when a corner dropped loose, and it appeared the hand of Gardner was involved.
But it was Birmingham that started the better after the break, beginning the second half as they did the first. They had a lot of the ball in opposition territory and tested the Brentford defence with a series of long throws. There were a few openings for the home side but no real clear-cut chances that had Raya unduly worried.
Nørgaard blocked a Bela shot and Jake Clarke-Slater failed to capitalise when a long throw dropped loose in the penalty area. When Hogan got free on the right there was a shooting chance for Bellingham, but the effort was blocked. And when Hogan limped out of the game soon after, Birmingham reinforced their midfield and left Jutkiewicz up front on his own, a sign that the momentum of the game was shifting.
Brentford had gone close when Watkins cut inside off the left and had a shot deflect wide, only for a goal kick to again be given, and The Bees were starting to take the upper hand in a game that was becoming increasingly scrappy. The visitors were the side trying to play through the midfield and take the game to their opponents. Birmingham sat in, content to play on the counter-attack and look for set pieces.
With Birmingham deep, chances started to come for The Bees. Marcondes met a Benrahma cross with a clever flick at the near post but Camp saved well. The resulting corner was played deep, but Pinnock’s header lacked power and was saved. The closest The Bees came to a winner was when Henrik Dalsgaard nodded a Marcondes free kick down, there was chaos in the six-yard box, Tariqe Fosu got a touch in the melee and the ball hit the post. It bounced back but neither Watkins nor Jeanvier could convert.
Raya had to push away a swirling Dan Crowley cross, and there were appeals for a penalty when the ball hit the arm of Pinnock but, like Brentford’s first half appeal, Mr Martin deemed it was not deliberate. And it was Brentford that pushed for a winner. Camp got down well to save a Fosu shot from a tight angle and Watkins volleyed wide on the swivel in the dying seconds. But the goal would not come, and a point was all The Bees could take.
Birmingham City: Camp; Colin, Roberts, Clarke-Salter, Pedersen; Bela (sub Harding 90 mins), Šunjić, Gardner, Bellingham; Hogan (sub Crowley 75 mins), Jutkiewicz
Subs (not used): Trueman, Kieftenbeld, Dean, Montero, Boyd-Munce
Bookings: Colin (57 mins), Clarke-Salter (60 mins)
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jeanvier, Pinnock, Henry; Jensen (sub Yearwood 9 mins (sub Fosu 71 mins)), Nørgaard, Baptiste; Marcondes, Watkins, Benrahma
Subs (not used): Daniels, Roerslev, Racic, Valencia, Dervişoğlu
Bookings: Yearwood (34 mins), Dalsgaard (41 mins) (fourth of season), Nørgaard (84 mins) (sixth of season)
Attendance: 20,379 (1,577 Bees fans)