Wasteful Bees count the cost of draw against feisty Forest
Brentford 1 Nottingham Forest 1
Wasteful Brentford blew the chance of racing seriously back into the automatic promotion mix for the Premier League with a disappointing draw against Nottingham Forest.
A second successive stalemate represents a significant threat to the Bees’ hopes of a precious top two finish, with nine games remaining. Thomas Frank’s side remain in fourth place, behind both Watford and Swansea City.
Ivan Toney’s 28th goal of the season – and his 8th penalty – looked like setting Brentford on their way to an expected victory. However, they were stunned by a second half leveller from Filip Krovinovic, as a resourceful Forest kept their composure, despite a late, if untidy, onslaught from the hosts.
There was a firm onus on the west Londoners to make a positive start, considering the dropped points in their most recent outing, a 2-2 draw at Derby County. And in Forest, they were, fortunately - or so it seemed at the outset - playing an opponent on a five-game winless run and in 18th place, just nine points above the relegation zone.
So it was all set up for the Bees, in theory. Toney didn’t disappoint; again the man supplying the desired breakthrough, in the 11th minute.
Forest defender Gaetan Bong hauled down the powerful forward in the penalty area from a corner – and Toney stepped up to plant a characteristically cool finish from the spot.
Suitably buoyed, Brentford went straight back on the attack, and Bryan Mbuemo fired a low, angled shot a yard wide with Forest still reeling.
Chris Hughton’s visitors were finally composed and started to enjoy plenty of possession – Manchester United loanee James Garner looking the part - without unduly troubling Bees’ keeper David Raya. However, the Bees should have doubled their lead in 32 minutes with a golden opportunity wasted.
Mbuemo whipped in a fierce corner from the right which Vitaly Janelt charged forward, unmarked, to meet. And although the midfielder did well to clip his shot off the crossbar, somehow Henrik Dalsgaard could only prod the rebound against the post and out of play.
Forest almost made Brentford pay on the stroke of half time when Lewis Grabban missed a good opportunity. The ex-Bees hitman could only conspire to head over when in space a few yards out, in what was the best moment up to that point from the east Midlands side.
With, presumably, memories still lingering from Tuesday’s concession of a two-goal lead at Derby, it was important for Frank’s men not to allow complacency to emerge and attempt to add a second goal. To that end, Brentford kept control of the early stages of the second half - and Mbuemo was left frustrated once more when a Forest defender deflected his shot inches over when set up nicely by Toney.
The Bees continued to work hard, with playmaker Mathias Jensen regularly sizing up openings for Toney and Mbuemo, but still the second goal wouldn’t come.
How Brentford were made to pay, when Forest grabbed an equaliser in the 62nd minute, against the run of play.
Cafu dispossessed Jensen in midfield before funnelling the ball out to the left to Bong. The defender swung in a cross which was half cleared – and Krovinovic was suitably on hand to steer the ball home, left-footed, from a dozen yards. Questions will have to be asked by Brentford about the space and time afforded to Forest’s Benfica loanee.
Frank sent on Saman Ghoddos for Janelt to freshen things up in 69 minutes, with the Bees in the midst of regaining their composure. Straightaway, Forest full back Cyrus Christie thwarted Ghoddos as the substitute was poised to pull the trigger, with Hughton’s side increasingly determined to hold on.
Christie took the pressure off briefly for Forest, with a deflected shot which went very close as Brentford had the appearance of a side running out of time and ingenuity. The Londoners faded in closing minutes, with Forest’s organisation and defensive commitment particularly impressive.
Clearly, a frustrated Frank now needs to find answers to all his team’s worrying disjoint ahead of the Bees’ next game, at Huddersfield Town on Easter Saturday.
Bees: Raya, Norgaard, Canos (Forss 85), Jensen (Marcondes 85), Toney, Jansson, Mbuemo (Fosu 76), Dalsgaard, Reid, Janelt (Ghoddos 69) Bech Sorensen