Brentford beat Nottingham Forest 3-2 in controversial game

Despite an early lead, Nottingham Forest lost 3-2 to Brentford in the capital, the Reds unable to stop Ivan Toney’s returning parade. George Edwards reports from the Gtech Community Stadium

You could’ve been forgiven for thinking that only one side was playing in the capital yesterday evening. Maybe even only one player. And despite Nottingham Forest’s best rallying efforts, Ivan Toney, playing for Toney FC at the Ivan Toney Community Stadium, would have the comeback dreams are made of, scoring once and being an integral part of Brentford’s first victory in eight.

Forest needed a win themselves, as despite consecutive league wins, they found themselves in 16th, just four points above the relegation zone and with a potential points deduction looming large. The cliche lives on — a true six-pointer with just a point splitting the sides before kick-off.

Nuno Espírito Santo made two changes from the eventual cup replay win over Blackpool, as Matt Turner returned between the sticks and Gonzalo Montiel came in at right-back. As you’ve probably heard, Ivan Toney returned as Brentford captain for the first time since his betting ban, a man who had scored on each of his previous three league appearances against Forest.

Brentford began the game in possession but pressed inside their own half, and just three minutes in, Forest penned them in and managed to edge ahead.

Danilo brought Forest forwards but lost out to Vitaly Janet, the German having two bites at the cherry, slicing both clearances into the air. The second one dropped in the box as Ben Mee’s headed clearance fell to Danilo, 25 yards out. Casually, the Brazilian kneed the ball in front of him before sending a weak-footed volley into the right corner of the net with seeming ease and certain quality.

Memories of last season’s goal at the Gtech came flooding back as Danilo led the celebratory charge towards the Forest fans at the other end, two in two for the feisty and extravagant youngster.

Forest grew from this point and continued to keep the ball in Brentford territory. Ryan Yates had a distance strike go narrowly wide after nine minutes before having a headed chance after 15. An out-swinging corner from the right found the captain at the near post, his header failed to hit the target nor find anyone running onto it at the back stick.

But Forest hadn’t kept a clean sheet in 11 games, so keeping Brentford at bay was an unlikely outcome. With their first real venture forwards, Orel Mangala bundled into Mikkel Damsgaard on the right edge of the box, a free-kick Brentford after 19 minutes.

Once again, think back to last season’s game at the Gtech. That free-kick Toney scored, firing through a disorganised Forest wall. From pretty much the same position, the same outcome transpired: Toney whipping round the end of the wall and into the bottom corner, referee Darren England and VAR turning a blind eye to Toney’s last-minute double manoeuvring of the ball.

Questions must also be asked about Matt Turner’s construction of the wall, wouldn’t it be nice to have a game where a ‘keeper wasn’t partly at fault for a conceded goal?

Forest’s early confidence was diminished from this moment onwards, only having one shot for the remainder of the first half, a speculative effort from Nuno Tavares that cushioned into the ‘keeper’s arms.

Brentford would have their chances though, striking the bar just after 30 minutes, following a corner from Mathias Jensen. His ball hung up to the far post for Toney, whose cross bounced into Yates’ knee and sat up nicely for Keane Lewis-Potter, his strike bouncing off the underside of the bar before Forest scrambled it clear.

Balls into the box always look threatening for Forest’s defence, and if they weren’t warned by that chance, Brentford sent them yet another warning signal eight minutes into the second half, Toney at the heart of it again. Having committed bodies forward, Forest lost possession on halfway and Toney ran down the right wing before crossing. The backpedalling Reds couldn’t mark Lewis-Potter at the far post, lucky that his first-time strike went straight at Turner, either side and it was in.

Forest came close two minutes later as they broke down the left, Danilo with a cross that found Mangala unusually in the box, a first-time Bernardo Silva-esque flick going wide of the near post.

A rare flurry forwards for Forest that didn’t last, with Brentford getting right back into their groove and winning a corner just before the hour. Jensen’s inswinger from the left found Ben Mee at the near post, rising well above Murillo and powering a header into the net for 2-1. Forest’s new set piece coach Simon Rusk may have improved them attacking wise but defensively there’s still work to do, their mix of zonal and man-marking looking calamitous once more.

Hope for Forest though, with Brentford dropping 20 points from winning positions this season, the most in the Premier League. And just six minutes after fearing the worst, the travelling contingent were back up raucously celebrating the equaliser.

Danilo harried and held onto the ball, finding Callum Hudson-Odoi deep on the right side. Reluctant to cross all evening, this time he did, curling a ball in towards the near post and Chris Wood. The cross was inch-perfect for Wood, getting between the two defenders and glancing a header down and into the far post, Wood’s striker’s instincts showing.

Bedlam in the away end. Forest were scoring goals like never before; now the sixth consecutive game they’ve scored 2+ goals, all under Nuno.

A game with many twists and turns, yet another one game three minutes later, in the hosts favour. Mads Roerslev was found on the right who in turn sent a precise ball in towards Neil Maupay, one of many pinpoint crosses from the Bees yesterday evening. Maupay’s first touch fooled Andrew Omobamidele who vacated his position, allowing the French striker to swivel and lash into the bottom corner — no chance for Turner.

Nuno had brought on Neco Williams on the right wing to offer some balance going fowards, something needed as possession would be all Forest going into the final stages. Mangala had a chance on 80 minutes as Wood shepherded the ball towards the Belgian, his strike from the edge of the box going wide.

As 10 minutes of stoppage time ticked by, Brentford had Forest just where they wanted them. Wasting time and keeping them well away from goal, their winless run seemed destined to end.

So 3-2 was the final score, a tale of two sides and crosses that told. Brentford’s repeated balls in caused Forest chaos, whereas the Reds reluctance to cross was their downfall, only managing three shots on target in the game.

In a match where Forest’s lack of aerial presence defensively showed, the inclusions of either Joe Worrall or Scott McKenna could have solved that issue, with Forest missing both Willy Boly and Moussa Niakhaté. Murillo continues to impress but looks as if he could do with a break and the game was perhaps too physical for Omobamidele, his inexperience showing for Brentford’s third goal.

Brentford move above Forest and into 14th place with the victory, six points above the relegation zone and two above the Reds. Forest prepare for cup action yet again as another away day sees them visit Bristol City next Friday, hoping to get back on track.

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