Brentford 2, Newcastle 4

Ready or not…the 38th and final match of the season 

Third season: One more time!

Last game of the season and come half-time the GTech Stadium was bathed in misery. Trailing 0-3 to a Magpies side still in with a slim chance of booking a European berth for next term, the Bees must have been thankful the relegation nightmare was over. Only Nottingham Forest had separated them from the relegated trio in the drop zone.

But then, as so often happens – to Brentford, anyhow – that same team emerged after the break as if they had been issued with a magic wand. The goals deficit looked more like a challenge than a prison sentence; the visiting players regular human beings rather than superstars from the planet Invincible.

And so it was until thirteen minutes or so of normal time, when Newcastle managed to snatch a fourth goal that stretched their lead beyond reach.

Mbeumo jousts with Newcastle’s Joe Linton

Make no mistake – the visitors deserved to take home the spoils. But the display of derring-do produced by a crowd most famous as a bus stop in Hounslow was acknowledged by those who applauded gratefully and stayed to do so again when the squad took to the pitch for a lap of honour.

That’s probably enough hyperbole for one season, so exactly what happened that sunny day in May?

The Bees did well early on, with Ivan Toney meeting a Bryan Mbeumo cross to put them ahead, although the celebration petered out when VAR ruled Mathias Jensen had been offside.

Toney also demanded attention with an overhead kick that was spectacular but inaccurate and Mbeumo broke clear and chased the ball with two defenders before he ran out of road and goalkeeper Nick Pope – back after a long injury break – snuffed out the danger.

In the meantime, Newcastle were looking uncomfortably slick up front and after 21 minutes Bruno Guimarães’ fine cross was headed home by Harvey Barnes to put the visitors ahead. Worse was to follow for Brentford, with Jacob Murphy scoring after 36 minutes and Alexander Isak two minutes later, two goals which may well have been those Thomas Frank would later describe as due to ‘defensive lapses’.

Player of the year Janelt’s goal gets his number in lights

And so to the Bees’ renaissance. Toney, Mbeumo and Yoane Wissa started to talk the same language in foraging for chinks in the visitors’ defence and it was Wissa who after three minutes of the second period fed Vitaly Janelt, the supporters’ Player of the Year, to score his first goal since February 2023. How cool was that?

Then, after 70 minutes, Toney headed the ball into Wissa’s path for him to leave the defence floundering before unleashing a shot that curled just enough to beat Pope at his far post.

Sadly, there is no fairytale ending to this story. Referee Simon Hooper pointed to the penalty spot when Mbeumo was judged to have unfairly brought down substitute Lewis Hall, only for VAR to decide the offence had taken place outside the box. That was the good news; the bad was Marek Flekken’s parry of the free-kick was seized upon by Guimarães to despatch gratefully the rebound.

Thomas Frank spoke warmly of his players in a brief speech to the remaining crowd, including five who will not be retained (Neal Maupay, who had run his heart out in the few games where he was called upon, had developed into a sort of talisman. The team’s supporters, being what they are, bade him a warm farewell).

Nice and kneesy, Jensen snaffles the ball; See you in August: Thomas Frank rounded up the season with thanks to team and fans

And what of Ivan Toney? England team manager Gareth Southgate was there to witness what was, we are assured, Toney’s last hurrah in a Brentford shirt.

Will we miss him, I asked my mate, Charlie?

‘Not for long’, said Charlie. ‘That’s football!’

Brentford: Flekken; Roerslev (substitute Ghoddos 63m), Pinnock, Reguilon (sub Maupay 74), Zanka; Nørgaard, Janelt (sub Schade 74), Jensen (sub Damsgaard 64); Toney, Mbeumo, Wissa (sub Yarmoliuk 84).

Newcastle: Pope; Krafth, Hall, Guimarães, Schãr (sub Dummett 92); Burn, Longstaff; Joelinton (sub Trippier 81); Isak (sub Wilson 81), Murphy (sub Almirón 68), Barnes (sub Anderson 68).

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor to the Beels United website. Photographs by Liz Vercoe.

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