FA Cup Fourth Round
Brentford 0 Leicester City 1
Thomas Frank’s determination not to allow anything to get in the way of Brentford’s promotion push saw them bow out of the FA Cup with a second-string side.
The Bees boss took great heart from the way his stand-ins performed against their Premier League visitors, but a fourth minute strike from Kelechi Iheanacho ultimately proved enough to settle the outcome – which turned out to be the very last FA Cup tie at Griffin Park before the summer move to Lionel Road.
With a home game against Nottingham Forest coming up on Tuesday night, the chance of cup glory took a back seat and only Julian Jeanvier and Kamohelo Mokotjo started from the XI who began last week’s 0-0 draw at Huddersfield.
The Foxes also rested plenty of first-teamers ahead of their looming League Cup semi-final against Aston Villa, but it was to Brentford’s great credit that they ran them so close, given their relative inexperience.
Halil Dervisoglu struck a post, Luka Racis had a fine volley tipped over by keeper Danny Ward and Bryan Mbeumo had the ball in the net after coming off the bench, but was flagged offside,
The performances of Jan Zamburek and Dru Yearwood in particular will have gladdened the hearts of home fans – even if there must have been a pang of regret that the opportunity to grab a notable cup scalp went begging.
“I’m very pleased with the performance, I must say,” said Frank, who made no bones about his belief that he had no option but to rest players to avoid injuries.
“You can’t ask for more. I think they put everything out there, the players. I think they were brave, took the initiative, played forward, they pressed aggressively and high.
“We created chances and really stepped it up in the second half, where I thought at least a draw would have been a fair result.
“Both teams made a few changes and we got some very good answers from some players that don’t normally start.
“I think when we can make so many changes and still look solid, and still look like we have a plan, it’s a massive credit to the players and the staff. We keep performing solid or more than solid, every single time.”
Frank added: “Of course the Tuesday game is more important. We wanted to win both games, but the flip side is let’s say we get injuries to one or two of our top players, or normal starters. Then it’s also an unbelievable important experience to get 90 minutes today against a Premier League side.
“I think if [we didn’t play Forest this week] I would maybe have put two or three players more who normally start. But if one of two were carrying a niggle, then it was a good time to rest them.
“What I didn’t want was a draw. I don’t understand how we can have replays in the FA Cup.
“I love the FA Cup. I think it’s a fantastic tournament and I love the tradition and culture – but sometimes I don’t get that. I think that’s killing one of the finest cup tournaments in the world.
“If clubs are close to get relegated, close to get promoted, do you think they want an extra game?”
Line-up: Daniels – Roerslev. Racic, Jeanvier, Thompson (Henry 76) – Marcondes, Yearwood, Mokotjo (Dasilva h/t) – Zamburek, Dervisoglu, Valencia (Mbeumo 82). Subs not used: Gunnarson, Pinnock, Norgaard, Hammar.