Brentford 2, Nottingham Forest 1

When push comes to shove: Kevin Schade wins the ball

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This report of a remarkable match needs to start with five of seven dramatic added minutes. Brentford’s history is littered with do-or-die moments, when victory was snatched from the jaws of a draw, and this was a prime example, when a smash-and-grab goal from Josh Dasilva wrecked Nottingham Forest’s day and quite possibly consigned them to the Championship next season.

Dominating the game for most of the second half, registering 69 per cent possession and eight shots on target to the visitors’ three, the Bees went into the extra time like a bunch of marauding pirates.

Forest, to their credit, fought valiantly to stem the tide, until substitute Josh Dasilva appeared to be taking stock on the left flank, before advancing to find a defence gap and letting rip with a left-foot shot that clipped the post. Goalkeeper Keylor Navas’s dive arrived a second or two late as it rolled over the line.

As happens not infrequently with the Bees, the home crowd exploded as if the team had won the FA Cup, although there was a prolonged wait while VAR examined if Yoanne Wissa was offside and had interfered with Navas’s vision. The tension before the goal was confirmed was hard to bear: no wonder coach Thomas Frank confessed later he never watched such moments – ‘I hope and pray,’ he said.

No way: Ivan Toney blocks Nottingham Forest

So back to the beginning, when a reorganised starting line-up had seen Brentford presumably trying to continue where they had left off after beating Chelsea 2-0 in the week. That didn’t exactly happen. Most of their attempts on goal quickly fizzled out and Forest, while rarely threatening, exploited some of the home side’s lackadaisical passing enough to irritate their overworked defence.

Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo lacked the cohesion that saw off Chelsea, but their supporters enjoyed the sunshine in anticipation of a goal, which duly arrived but, sadly, at the wrong end.

Inside the last minute of the half an unseemly melee in David Raya’s goal area ended with a loose ball arriving at the feet of Brazilian midfielder Danilo, who promptly despatched it into the far corner. Danilo, having arrived at the club only last January, was delighted, but less so when injury meant he left the field for the final few minutes and therefore missed the extraordinary denouement.

Forest’s attitude after the interval was determinedly back-to-the-wall, except when they hit the ground and writhed a little. Fouls numbering thirteen, against Brentford’s half-dozen, did nothing to win sympathy from the home crowd, which now again began to anticipate a goal of their own.

They had an uncomfortable time to wait, but when the Bees were awarded a free kick, central and not far from the border of the penalty area, hope increased. And hope was answered: Toney’s skill managed to propel the ball round the defensive wall and on to clip an upright and bounce from Navas’s body into the goal. Job half-done!

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Languishing only just outside the relegation box, Forest must have been adjusting their ambition. After all, a point is a point.

But this is where we came in and how Josh Dasilva, whose finishing ability has hardly been tested in his not wholly successful return from injury, added to Navas’s woes and supplied Brentford with a three-point present that sees them solidify ninth place in the table.

Thomas Frank’s honest summary of the day was that it was not one of the Bees finer performances. Strange but true, he believes, that they played better against such front-runners as Man United, Newcastle and Aston Villa than teams struggling to survive in the League.

But what a sensational finish, I observed to my mate Charlie as the jubilant team completed a lap of honour.

‘Dunno – I didn’t see it’, said Charlie. ‘Thomas wasn’t the only one hoping and praying!’

Brentford: Raya; Hickey, Pinnock, Mee, Henry (sub Wissa 60); Damsgaard (Dasilva 60), Janelt (Dasilva 71), Jensen (Baptiste 71)); Mbeumo, Toney, Schade (Ghoddos 76).

Nottingham Forest: Navas; Worrall, Felipe, Niakhaté, Aurier; Mangala (Yates 81), Danilo (90?); Lodi, Johnson (Kouyatéat 66), Gibbs-White; Awonayi (A Ayew 54).

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

Pictures by Liz Vercoe

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