Brentford 2, Brighton & Hove Albion 0

Image above: Thomas Frank said: “Bring your scarves”

Two more for Toney

What a terrific way to say sorry. Following a 1-5 drubbing at Newcastle the previous week, the Bees swarmed all over the south coast tourists to hoist themselves up to eighth in the Premiership. (okay, perhaps for only a few days, but you get the message).

Coach Thomas Frank had publicly ticked off his side for their lacklustre showing at St James’ Park, calling for a quality performance to compensate the loyal fans who had given their customary supercharged support after travelling to the north-east. An error-littered defeat demanded no less.

Which is why the first overture light show to illuminate a Premier League evening game at the Gtech Stadium this season may have lifted the spirits of a starting line-up produced by Frank’s tinkering. The scarves held aloft prior prior to kick-off created a great atmosphere. And The full-throttle pace Brentford adopted from the start certainly thrilled the home crowd.

Image above: Buzette and Buzz pensive before kickoff

Perhaps Brighton, four points clear of the Bees at the start, thought the opposition would rapidly run out of steam. But no; with authoritative skipper Ivan Toney again standing in for the injured Pontus Jansson and Yoane Wissa contributing busily in the front three, Brentford were dominant from the off and looked determined to remain so.

Toney came close with an effort that sailed too high and a little wide, then Bryan Mbeumo unleashed a volley that rattled keeper Robert Sanchez’s crossbar after making his fingers tingle. David Raya had little to do, but when employed showed that he wasn’t beneath making amends for Newcastle, where each of his two slips had calamitous results.

The Brighton faithful sung lustily to convince the team their time would come, but never seemed to make more noise, even when Raya was called upon to turn away a Lewis Dunk shot.

After 27 minutes the home team struck, splendidly and memorably. Bryan Mbeumo burst along the right before feeding Frank Onyeka – like Wissa, another rare starter, but ever-present when required – whose measured pass into the goalmouth from the by-line found Toney ready and very able to convert. His finish may have lacked spectacle, but the manner of scoring was magnificent: the neatest of back-heels that nutmegged the only defender on the scene to beat goalkeeper Robert Sanchez, who might have been excused for thinking he was seeing things.

Images above: The ball lands at Frank’s feet (and he’s about to be run over); Aerial defence

The solitary goal seemed scant reward for Brentford’s superiority come half-time, but a bizarre incident on its stroke parked any such thoughts. An unseemly tug-of-ball involving Brighton defender Joӫl Veltman and the coaches of both sides ended with referee Michael Salisbury dispensing yellow cards to Frank and Roberto De Zerbi.

The players looked on, probably anxious for their interval refreshment, although Toney may have been nursing a wish that Mr Salisbury could end up with a biff on the beezer in the melee, what with the official ignoring the growing number of times the striker had been clattered or shoved off the ball by an increasingly frustrated defence.

Brighton smartened up their act after the interval and Raya found himself much busier, producing a display of skill and courage that made his Newcastle nightmare even more difficult to understand.

But Brighton’s hopes of a revival in their fortunes, possibly one that might earn a point, almost disappeared when Toney – that man again – was clumsily bundled to the floor of the penalty area by Veltman – and that one, too – for an incontestable spot-kick.

Sanchez spent several minutes jumping up and down on his goal-line – calisthenics, presumably – during which Toney, ball tucked under his arm, went for a short walk and then idly watched the conclusions of the keeper’s exercises. Then, nonchalantly, Toney slotted the ball into a corner of the net as Sanchez took off in the other direction.

Image: Ivan Toney’s 20th successful penalty; photograph Will Hagerty 

A few of Thomas’s substitutions – namely Sergi Canos; good to see him back – arrived in time to weather Brighton’s do-or-die rough tactics in the closing stages of the game. As the scoreline indicates, die won the day.

‘Newcastle is just an unfortunate memory,’ I ventured to my mate Charlie. Apology accepted, said Charlie.

Brentford: Raya; Ajer, Pinnock, Mee, Henry (substitute Ghoddos,87); Janelt, Onyeka (Baptiste, 71), Jensen (Dasilva, 80); Mbeumo (Canós, 80), Toney, Wissa (Roerslev, 71).

Brighton: Sánchez; Veltman, Webster, Dunk, Estupiñán (Mitoma, 45); March, Mac Allister, Caicedo; Trossard (sub Undavat, 69), Welbeck, Groß (Lallana,68).

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor of the Bees United supporters’ group. Pictures by Liz Vercoe and Will Hagerty.

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