Fulham 3, Brentford 2

Image above: Captain Pontus Jansson leads the warm up

Second Season: London rivals edge out Bees

Saturday morning and all is well. The transport strikes do not impede the 21,000-and-a-bit supporters heading to and from Craven Cottage. The sun is shining. Brentford, having drawn at Leicester and walloped Manchester United, are sitting pretty at third place in the Premier League. So what’s the worst that can happen?

We found out after 44 seconds, when a marauding Fulham surged into Brentford territory and Jay Stansfield, making his PL debut, rattled the crossbar, leaving David Raya scampering and Bobby De Cordova-Reid pouncing on the loose ball to guide it home.

Image above: 1-0 down and Mbeumo and Wissa fight to defend

The Bees seemed bemused by this turn of events and spent the next twenty minutes mainly in their own half, with Raya collecting both his thoughts and the ball with slowly increasing confidence. And then, calamity. Midfielder Andreas Pereiro flighted a superb corner kick for João Maria Lobo Alves Palhinha Gonçalves – in the name department, his makes Reid look pedestrian – to outjump the visiting defence and head a second.

A rash tackle by Christian Nørgaard was lucky enough to escape severe retribution before, at last, Brentford began to knit together some joined-up passing and registered a catch-up goal when the same player thumped a Matthias Jensen corner past goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

Arguably, a flying challenge by Palhinha that caught Ben Mee in mid-air might have been worthy of a sending off, but bearing in mind Nørgaard’s earlier indiscretion, minimum fuss appeared to be made after referee Peter Bankes delivered a yellow card.

As it was, the half-time score, if not the Bees defensive performance, had gained a little respectability. And the second period was, as often one finds with Brentford, a more encouraging story (witness their turnaround at Leicester in the first game of the season).

Image above: 2-1 and 2nd half hopes increase with an Mbeumo corner…

Ivan Toney scored a classy equaliser within four minutes, only for it to be decreed offside following an inordinate amount of time for VAR to be satisfied – a tiny toenail of an offence, but rules is rules. And it was now Fulham’s turn to look uneasy, bordering on panic-stricken, as Toney’s polished dominance of the home defence left Aleksandar Mitrović, a striker who looks every-inch the real deal, very much a bit-part player, wasting several chances and testing Raya only once.

It was around this time that Thomas Frank began to shuffle the bench into the pack, using all five substitutes to join in harassing an unnerved Fulham. Whether this tactic puts the wind up the opposition has yet to be proven, although Fulham certainly took note and their confidence continued to ebb. Brentford were by now bristling with the stuff, and Toney, at his commanding best, led the charge.

Reward came after 71 minutes when he despatched Yoane Wissa’s fine cross past Leno and the visitors certainly looked the side more likely to manufacture a winner as time ticked by.

Image above: 2-2 and another… but was not to BEE

But the goal-machine’s reputation shouldn’t have been forgotten. Less than a minute of normal time saw Mitrović soar beautifully to meet a Kevin Mbabu corner and power it past Raya. Four frantic minutes added failed to produce another equaliser. The Bees looked devastated.

‘We wuz robbed,’ moaned some of the Brentford faithful, but, as I told my mate Charlie, the result of such a thrilling game did not deny the contribution of the visitors.

‘May be,’ said Charlie. ‘But just you wait till we get them back at Brentford.’

Fulham: Leno; Tete (substitute Mbabu 77 mins), Tosin, Ream, Robinson; Reed, Lobo Alves Palhinha Gonςalves, Stansfield (sub Cairney 77); Pereira, De Cordova-Reid; Mitrović (sub Duffy).

Brentford: Raya; Hickey (substitute Lewis-Potter 59), Jansson, Mee, Henry; Dasilva (Baptiste 74), Nørgaard (Onyeka 80), Jensen (Janelt 60); Mbeumo, Toney, Wissa (sub Ghoddos 83).

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

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