Brentford 1, Leicester City 1

Post warm up, Toney leads 

Second season: points go missing

Picking up where they left off – unbeaten at home since last October – the Bees remained in eighth place in the Premier League table after entertaining the team they came from behind to twice equalise in their first match of the season. Only a point behind Brighton and Liverpool, well that isn’t bad.

No, but it isn’t what the Bees’ faithful wanted, or expected. Three points from a team languishing in the lower reaches of the division would have seen Brentford reaching sixth spot, with the possibility of competing in Europe next season still more than a dream.

The truth is that Leicester deserved to go home with a point in the bank, even though Leeds United’s win at Wolves meant the Foxes dopped a place in the skirmish at the bottom. Brentford, with eleven matches to play, and Arsenal, Manchester United, Newcastle, Tottenham and Manchester City among their opposition, will need to dig deep for character and skill to earn a place in Europe.

The atmosphere at the Gtech was edgy, probably reflecting the importance of every game for both sides. Brentford’s crackerjack start was encouraging but chances to score were rare at both ends until just after the half-hour when the Bees went ahead with a set-piece that may not have gone exactly to plan but worked out well enough to baffle Premier League debutant goalkeeper Daniel Iversen.

Wissa you were here

Bryan Mbeumo’s short comer found its way into the penalty area, where Ivan Toney and Christian Norgaard helped the ball on its way until Matthias Jensen seized the opportunity to shoot. The strike was not hard and its direction speculative, but double deflections, off Ricardo Pereira and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, saw it nestle in the net.

Conceding a goal, and from a set-piece at that, seemed to galvanise Leicester. Their passing was smart, their approach play enough to keep the home defence awake, but the visitors remained unrewarded until seven minutes after the break, when the best movement so far – and for the remainder, as it turned out – saw a diamond-studded through ball from James Maddison enabled Harvey Barnes to lift it past the advancing Raya.

In terms of scoring opportunities, that was about the lot. Ivan Toney was, for once, closely shepherded by Harry Souter, whose six-foot-five-inches helped him no end. Rarely has Toney been seen so out-jumped. And despite Maddison’s class, the visitors’ mostly attractive network of passes failed to penetrate the home defence.

Images above: One way to slow up Ivan; Who’s the fastest? Henry v Pereira?

Raya, like Iverson, was largely under-employed for much of the game, so much so that his propensity for go walkabout when the mood takes him broke new boundaries. Dashing towards a far touchline to clear a long ball, he found himself challenged by two Leicester sprinters and to extricate himself from danger performed a few kicky-uppies before despatching it back from whence it came.

A splendid diversion and the game ended with another, although far less satisfactory for the Bees. Shandon Baptiste, having been substituted for Jensen fifteen minutes from time, managed to register two fouls – one yellow, the other red – within minutes (possibly only seconds), and departed the field at the referee’s request.

And so to the international break, then Brighton and Manchester United away followed by the visit to the Gtech of Newcastle United, currently in fifth place in the table and separated from Brentford by a slender three points plus a game in hand. The Magpies beat the Bees 5-1 at St James’s Park in October and will present a stiff challenge, as will Brighton and Man. U.

One point not enough from them, I told my mate Charlie. We need to resume winning games to be in the hunt come May.

‘Oh, I dunno,’ said Charlie. ‘No other team has drawn twelve times.’

Brentford: Raya; Hickey, Pinnock, Mee, Henry; Damsgaard (Dasilva 61), Norgaard, Jensen (Baptiste, 75▪); Mbeumo (Jansson 90+), Toney, Wissa (Schade 61).

Leicester City: Iverson; Ricardo Pereira, Amartey, Souttar, Castagne; Ndidi (Soumaré 74; Dewsbury-Hall, Teté (Praet 66); Maddison (Iheanacho 90+), Barnes; Daka (Vardy 66).

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor of the Bees United supporters’ group.

Photographs by Liz Vercoe.

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