Brentford extended their unbeaten run to five games as they came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Blackburn Rovers. A goal early in each half from Blackburn striker Adam Armstrong had seemed set to condem Brentford to a home defeat against one of their rivals at the top of the table. But Ollie Watkins halved the deficit and Saïd Benrahma scored from the penalty spot to earn The Bees a share of the spoils.
Blackburn started the day eighth in the table but have been the form team in the Sky Bet Championship since January and would have made further ground on the top of the table with a win at Griffin Park. That looked like it was coming when Armstrong converted a penalty early in the second half to make it 2-0. But Watkins scored his 21st of the season as Brentford launched a fight back and Benrahma completed it. There were chances for The Bees to turn zero points in to three in the later stages, but they could not get over the line and had to settle for one.
Brentford started in very positive fashion. They looked to attack from the first whistle and created chances in the opening exchanges. Their midfield linked with their attacking players and the game was played almost exclusively in Blackburn territory. But despite all that, it was the visitors that were in front 20 minutes in.
The goal came the first time Blackburn got deep in to the Brentford half. Goalkeeper Christian Walton lashed a long ball downfield that was taken by the wind and deceived Ethan Pinnock. It allowed Armstrong to run in behind, albeit maybe from an offside position, and he cleverly lifted his shot over the advancing David Raya and in to the net to put his team in front.
Walton got the assist for the goal but was more heavily involved at the other end. He made a brave save at the feet of Bryan Mbeumo when the attacked looked set to score after getting on to a superb pass from Benrahma. When a corner was half cleared soon after, Josh Dasilva tricked his way back in to the area and his drilled cross was hacked away inside the six-yard box.
Blackburn looked to be second best but scored when Armstrong broke free and almost got another soon after. Armstrong intercepted a loose pass from Dasilva and shot from 22 yards but faded the effort wide. The Bees would have been pretty happy with their start, despite being behind. They were dominating the centre of the pitch, finding space to play in Blackburn territory and creating chances. They were also having to play in to an extremely strong wind, which helped Blackburn get their goal, and were dealing better with ball moving quickly on a dry playing surface.
Mbeumo could have equalised for The Bees when he met an Emiliano Marcondes corner, but he headed wide from ten yards. And other chances were coming for The Bees, who were moving the ball well in the Blackburn half and finding openings. Blackburn sat deep even before they scored and were content to wait for Brentford to make mistakes in possession and counter-attack.
Benrahma was started to drift in to central areas and took up shooting positions as the first half wore on. When Watkins robbed Ryan Nyambe on the touchline and set up Benrahma on the edge of the penalty area, he may have done better than fire straight at Walton. Walton denied Benrahma again after he was picked up by Christian Nørgaard and the pressure started to mount as half time approached.
Watkins combined with Dasilva after Rico Henry had got in on the left and delivered a cross, but the shot was sliced. It broke to Benrahma and his effort took a deflection before being saved well by Walton. And Brentford went even closer soon after. After more nice interplay on the left, Dasilva set up Benrahma for a shot that was so badly sliced it turned in to a pass for Mbeumo. The ball was recycled and Henrik Dalsgaard picked out Benrahma for a shot that would have arrowed in but for a great block by Nyambe. Still Blackburn couldn’t fully clear and Dasilva found Watkins but his shot, after a clever turn, was deflected away for a corner.
Most of Brentford’s good play was coming on the left side. Benrahma was leaving space for Henry to dart in to and Dasilva was roaming in to any gaps he could find. But Brentford were behind at the break and Blackburn ended the first half strongly. Long-range efforts from Bradley Johnson and Dominic Samuel failed to trouble Raya but the Brentford goalkeeper did have to be alert to save an Armstrong free kick that bent over the wall and would have dipped in.
That ensured there was just one goal in the game at the break but that became two within ten minutes of the start of the second half. Brentford failed to deal with a ball over the top and Armstrong found himself in on goal only to be denied by Raya. The ball bounced up and Raya went to claim it as John Buckley approached, with Dalsgaard also trying to clear. Buckley went down and referee Tim Robinson decided Raya had fouled him when he palmed the ball clear. Armstrong took responsibility and rolled the ball home to give Blackburn a lead that looked as if it would be decisive.
There had been a fairly even start to the second half. Brentford had been pressing on, now playing with the strong win at their backs, but Blackburn had a good defensive shape and looked to break. They took their chance to get the second goal and seemed to have the game wrapped up. But Brentford hit back.
The Bees made a couple of changes, introducing Mads Roerslev and Shandon Baptiste. They also changed their shape with Nørgaard dropping in to the centre of a back three. That allowed Roerslev and Henry to be high up the pitch with Mbeumo and Benrahma in central areas closer to Watkins. And Brentford started the comeback.
The ignition came from Watkins and came out of nothing. Dalsgaard played a ball forward and Watkins controlled in on his chest before turning and lashing past Walton from 25 yards. There looked to be nothing on when Watkins brought the ball down, but his spin and shot was quick enough to catch Walton out and Brentford had a lifeline.
That gave The Bees renewed optimism they could take something from the game, and they pushed on. Roerslev was superb as a right wing back and Blackburn were forced back. Benrahma lashed over after Roerslev had cut in to the box and Pinnock then fired wide when Dasilva delivered a low corner. Dasilva also fired over the bar after working a shooting chance from 25 yards.
Brentford got their levelled with 20 minutes remaining and it was Roerslev at the centre of it. He darted forward and went between Amari’i Bell and Johnson in the penalty area before going to ground as they blocked him off. Mr Robinson again pointed to the spot and Benrahma sent Walton the wrong way to make it 2-2.
With the game stretched it seemed certain that one team or the other would get the crucial fifth goal. The first good chance came to Blackburn when Dalsgaard made a mess of a back pass and Armstrong raced clear. He looked set to complete a hat-trick, but Raya made himself big and blocked the shot. Raya also saved a Stewart Downing free kick and Darragh Lenihan headed wide for the visitors.
But most of the chances in the later stages came at the other end. And Walton was, again, the key man. He made a fine save from a Mbeumo shot after Baptiste had led a break and then watched as Dasilva shot over. When Benrahma picked a gap with a pass, Walton saved bravely at the feet of Mbeumo to keep the game level and Dasilva had a shot blocked after bursting in to the box.
Sam Gallagher headed wide for Rovers and Watkins had a shot blocked but the golden chance came a minute from the end. Watkins opened up the defence with a flick between his legs and Benrahma danced clear, his low shot was superbly saved by Walton and the goalkeeper then saved a follow-up from Halil Dervişoğlu. Any lift on the effort from Benrahma would have given The Bees three points but Walton denied him and earned his side a draw.
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jeanvier (sub Roerslev 54 mins), Pinnock, Henry (sub Dervişoğlu 84 mins); Marcondes (sub Baptiste 60 mins), Nørgaard, Dasilva; Mbeumo, Watkins, Benrahma
Subs (not used): Daniels, Oksanen, Fosu, Valencia
Bookings: Mbeumo (80 mins) (third of season)
Blackburn Rovers: Walton; Nyambe, Lenihan, Adarabioyo, Bell; Johnson, Travis, Buckley (sub Gallagher 65 mins); Downing; Samuel (sub Bennett 73 mins), Armstrong
Subs (not used): Leutwiler, Graham, Davenport, Brereton, Bennett, Carter
Attendance: 12,082 (1,454 away fans)