Ahead of kickoff, Brentford held ninth place in the Premier League – and would look to maintain that spot with a win over Nottingham Forest. Steve Cooper’s side occupied 17th spot, sitting just a point above Leicester City. With time running out, would they be able to salvage their season with a win at the Gtech Community Stadium?
BRE: Raya; Henry, Mee, Pinnock, Hickey; Jensen, Janet, Damsgaard; Schade, Toney, Mbuemo
NFO: Navas; Niakhate, Felipe, Worrall; Lodi, Danilo, Mangala, Aurier; Gibbs-White, Johnson; Awoniyi
Serge Aurier looked to create a chance for Forest to open the scoring early on, whipping a ball in from the right flank that looked destined for Brennan Johnson – though Raya was able to intercept. Keylor Navas was soon forced into action at the other end, collecting a dipping strike from Bryan Mbuemo who had decided to chance it from twenty yards out.
Nottingham Forest were certainly making it difficult for the Bees to break through their defence. Steve Cooper has experimented with a number of formations so far this season, but the three-back deployed in this game seemed to be working! Resolute defending meant that with half an hour played, the hosts had only managed two shots on target – despite having over two-thirds of the possession.
In truth, it had been a fairly relaxed opening half – with neither side really posing too much of a threat. That was until the final five minutes of the half, when Nottingham Forest surged forward in a bid to take the lead before the break. Johnson propelled a cross towards Taiwo Awoniyi, but the forward’s header was sent off target!
There was drama at the other end too, as Keylor Navas produced a superb double save to deny Pinnock and Damsgaard. It was Forest that bagged the opener though in stoppage time, as Danilo fired home from their first shot on target. The chance stemmed from a Gibbs-White throw-in that was deflected into the midfielder’s path, and he found the back of the net from six yards out to give the visitors a crucial lead.
Forest remained solid in defence throughout the opening fifteen minutes of the second half, and looked set to steal all three points on the road. They came close to doubling their lead in the 73rd minute as Niakhate attempted an overhead kick inside the box – but Raya was able to make the low save to deny what would have been one of the best goals of the season.
Brentford drew level with less than ten minutes to play though, as Ivan Toney sweetly struck a free-kick from twenty yards out through the Forest wall and into the bottom-right corner. It was a great strike, and it gave the Bees some much needed momentum to deliver a killer blow.
And that’s exactly what they did. Onyeka looked to power home from the edge of the box, though his effort deflected of Wissa – but Navas was still able to make the save! The Costa Rican ‘keeper couldn’t do anything to deny Josh Dasilva in the 94th minute though, dancing infield from the right flank before driving a powerful shot into the back of the net at the near post.
VAR was utilised to ascertain whether there was an offside in the buildup to the goal, but replays showed that there was no reason to disallow Dasilva’s strike – and the Bees clinched all three points right at the death. That could prove to be costly for Forest, who face fellow strugglers Southampton next time out. Brentford will travel to Liverpool on Saturday.