Momentous night for Brentford, as they stun Newcastle to reach their first League Cup semi-final
Brentford 1 Newcastle United 0
League Cup Quarter-Final
The League Cup may seem like small potatoes compared to the prospect of promotion but the Bees can celebrate a famous victory which takes them to within one game of a Wembley final.
Already further advanced than they have ever been in this 60-year-old competition, Thomas Frank’s men have completely rewritten the club’s history books.
Josh Dasilva’s 66th minute strike was enough to settle a tie in which the Bees carried most of the threat against their Premier League opponents – who became the fourth top-flight team they have eliminated this season after Southampton, West Brom and Fulham.
It was, of course, a huge disappointment for Bees fans not to be able to partake in such a momentous evening. Even the 2,000 admitted before the latest Covid-induced lockdown would have been better than nothing.
Perhaps they will be able to return for the final, which has been pushed back to April in the hope that fans will be allowed back by then.
In any event, a fantastic one-off semi-final awaits against Arsenal, Man City, Spurs, Stoke, Everton or Man United.
Frank is not one to get misty-eyed about cup ties.
It might be a bit harsh to say he only has eyes for the biggest prize of them all – promotion from the Championship – but it undoubtedly features prominently in his thinking.
Last season he fielded a second-string XI for an FA Cup tie against Leicester City and although he did not quite go down that route this time, he still decided to start with Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo on the bench and to persevere with Luke Daniels in goal rather than Championship choice David Raya.
Even with the glamour of a first ever major Wembley final just one semi-final game away, the Dane was not about to get side-tracked by what he sees as the bigger picture and the need to rest star players.
And yet, he will surely have relished this great result.
Newcastle, without a trophy since 1969, have got to the stage where no dropping of regulars could be reasonably justified and theirs was an A-list selection for Steve Bruce. But they did not look a division superior.
There were very encouraging early signs for the Bees, suggesting we might be about to witness another wonderful night. Saman Ghoddos flashed an effort wide and Ethan Pinnock met a corner to head just over.
And there was an even better chance when loose play from the Magpies allowed Emiliano Marcondes to spread the ball wide to Dasilva and a low cross inviting to be out away was turned against the crossbar by Ghoddos – the striker having bumped his shot into the turf rather than striking it cleanly.
Then, from a corner soon after, Sergi Canos made a hash of a far-post header from close range after Ethan Pinnock had headed back across goal to present the clearest of chances to his team-mate.
It wasn’t all one way. The Bees were indebted to Luke Daniels twice in the first half for denying the Magpies.
He reacted well to keep out Callum Wilson’s shot on the edge of the six-yard box – the former Bournemouth striker having outmuscled Mads Bech Sorensen to expose the keeper.
And David Raya’s understudy made an even more outstanding save to tip over a dipping shot from Ryan Fraser, who connected sweetly with the ball after been picked out by Jonjo Shelvey’s fine pass.
The Bees worried the Geordies again after the break, with Canos and substitute Chris Norgaard having shots blocked by Ciaran Clark and then, midway through the half, Canos hooked the ball in from the right and Dasilva was on hand to volley past Karl Darlow.
It was so very nearly 2-0 when Norgaard got on the end of a long throw from Sorensen which found its way to the far post. Darlow blocked from close range, but with Toney now involved off the bench, the Bees could sense they were closing in on a prestigious victory.
A desperate Bruce sent on Andy Carroll to try and rescue the game – having also pitched Dwight Gayle and Joelinton into the fray as his team ended the contest top-heavy with strikers. It did them no good.
This was a night for Brentford once again. And not for the first time. They are now unbeaten in 14 games and showing no signs of wanting that run to end any time soon.
Brentford: Daniels – Fosu, Pinnock, Bech Sorensen, Thompson – Marcondes, Janelt (Norgaard 60), Dasilva (Jensen 81) – Canos (Toney 69), Forss, Ghoddos. Subs not used: David Raya, Goode, Mbeumo, Stevens