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Match Reports

MATCH REPORT: BRENTFORD

21 November 2017

Ben Turner's second goal of the season, twelve minutes from time, secured another valuable point on the road as Albion came from behind to draw at Brentford. The men from Griffin Park had done the double over Nigel Clough's side last season but it was the Brewers who provided the sting in the tail to continue their improved form away from the Pirelli Stadium.

After a dour first half the second period came to life when Dutch midfielder Florian Jozefzoon curled home a 25 yard free kick to give the home side the advantage and open the game up.

Albion though made changes and it was the introduction of young Joe Sbarra that finally unlocked the home defence, providing an excellent cross to the back post for Turner to head home. The irony is that Sbarra was only named on the bench after teamsheets had been exchanged when Jake Buxton picked up a knock in the warm up and wasnt able to take his place amongst the named substitutes.

Injuries, to a degree, dictated changes to the starting eleven for the trip to West London with four changes the order of the day as Albion looked to avenge their defeat at Griffin Park from last season. With Lloyd Dyer struggling with a hamstring there was a recall for the man who came on in his place on Friday, Lucas Akins, although his role was changed to that of a right wing back role. Tom Naylor was recalled to the side as part of a three man central defensive unit, skipper Buxton initially dropping to the bench before becoming a late withdrawal offering Sbarra the chance to be involved. There was also a recall on the left for Tom Flanagan in place of Stephen Warnock who also found himself amongst the substitutes as Albion went for the solid approach in a 5-4-1 formation. The midfield also saw a change with Sean Scannell coming in for Jamie Allen leaving Marvin Sordell to play as the lone striker. In the absence of Buxton from the starting line-up the captain's armband was handed to Luke Murphy.

It was Albion with the positive start and they could have been ahead inside three minutes, Matty Palmer's free kick from the left finding the head of Ben Turner six yards out but, under pressure, the big defender seeing his effort drop just wide of the post.

The home side soon started to get on the ball and with Albion seemingly content to get men behind the ball and frustrate the Bees were finding it difficult in the opening stages to unlock the Burton rearguard and find a killer pass to get themselves in on goal.

Albion began to look composed in possession with some nice moves as they looked to cause problems of their own but the first real shot in anger took until half way through the first period to come along, Jozefzoon eventually teeing up Romaine Sawyers for a rising shot from distance that failed to trouble Stephen Bywater. Albion were almost in themselves with a quick response as Lund and Sordell combined to steal the ball off Andreas Bjelland and Sordell's low cross back to the edge of the box was just out of reach for both Scannell and Murphy racing forwards.

A short corner routine on 27 minutes threatened to undo Albion as the ball was played in short to Sawyers who in turn found Nico Yennaris, the midfielder also seeing his shot fly too high.

Albion were doing well as half time approached but they almost let it slip on 43 minutes. A Burton corner was hoofed clear inside the Brentford six yard box and as Ollie Watkins chased it down Flanagan tried to head back to his keeper. Unfortunately Bywater had advanced forwards and the ball flew past him at the expense of a corner. Albion made sure their defended well from the set piece and half time was duly reached on level terms.

Half time: Brentford 0-0 Burton Albion

Any hope that the second half would get off to a better start soon faded as both sides continued to lack the quality to seriously open up the other in the initial skirmishes. Bees manager Dean Smith quickly became frustrated and it took him just six minutes to opt to make a double change to try and change the flow of the match. Midfielders Yennaris and Ryan Woods were summonsed to the bench to be replaced by former Chelsea man Josh McEachran and ex-Liverpool youngster Sergi Canos. The Spaniard was soon involved winning a free kick from McFadzean and the deadlock was broken when JOZEFZOON curled home the free kick from 25 yards out.

Canos almost carved out a second for Brentford on the hour mark showing some silky skills to cut inside and fire a deflected effort just wide of the upright. A teasing right wing cross from the substitute almost opened up Albion again on 65 minutes, this time Yoann Barbet just unable to make meaningful contact with the ball as it arced through the penalty area.

Albion's first change quickly followed and it was Palmer who made way to enable Will Miller to come on for the second game running.

Matty Lund found himself the first man in the notebook of referee Chris Kavanagh for a mistimed challenge on Watkins as the game entered the final quarter and this time it wa Barbet with the free kick, Bywater getting down well, low to his right to clutch the ball.

Sordell had a sight of goal moments later but trying to beat Dan Bentley at his near post he only found the side netting. Albion threw on Joe Sbarra in place of Matty Lund for what remained of the game. The youngster had not originally been in the eighteen for the game but when Buxton failed to make it onto the bench with a knock the academy product stepped up.

The youngster showed all of his prodigious talent to drive forward and help win a corner on the right and from that corner he picked up possession and set in an angled left foot cross to pick out TURNER who got there before Bentley to squeeze a header inside the near post from close range.

Albion had to survive a couple of late scrambles inside their own box late on as the Bees tried to hit back and grab back the initiative. One particular scramble saw a shot for handball as the ball pinged around the Burton box before Bywater could successfully drop on the loose ball at his near post.

As the home fans frew restless the Brewers sensed that there could be a winner there for them to snatch all three points and Miller almost completed an unlikely victory with a looping curling effort that had Bentley beaten and momentarily seemed to be heading for the top corner until it dropped inches wide. No one was more relieved than Bentley. No one was more frustrated than young Miller who had looked lively following his introduction.

Neither side could prise one final opening in what remained of stoppage time and when referee Kavanagh brought the game to a halt Albion's continued improved form on the road had continued. Now just the home form to sort out with Sunderland up next at the Pirelli.


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