Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Brentford fight back to earn deserved draw with Blackburn in entertaining clash

Posted on 22 February 2020 by Danny Clark
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Brentford 2-2 Blackburn Rovers 

Brentford recovered from a two-goal deficit to share the spoils with Blackburn in a pulsating 2-2 draw at Griffin Park.

Adam Armstrong opened the scoring for Rovers against the run of play early on and doubled his side’s lead from the penalty spot shortly after the break.

Ollie Watkins halved the arrears with a stunning 25-yard volley, before Said Benrahma’s spot-kick deservedly drew the Bees level.

The result leaves promotion-chasing Brentford in fourth – six points adrift of the automatic promotion positions – following Leeds’ victory against Reading, while Blackburn sit a further five points back in eighth.

The hosts started on the front foot but it was the Lancashire side – having weathered the early storm – who took the lead in the 11th minute.

A misjudgement from Ethan Pinnock allowed Armstrong to latch onto Christopher Walton’s goal-kick and finish past ex-Rovers keeper David Raya with a delicate, well-taken lob.

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Brentford went in search for an immediate response but Walton held firm in the Rovers goal, denying the lively Benrahma on three separate occasions.

Matters got worse for the home side nine minutes into the second half, as Raya – having just smothered an effort from Armstrong – proceeded to bundle over John Buckley when attempting to regather the ball.

The referee pointed to the spot and Armstrong stepped up to double his side’s lead, sending the travelling contingent behind the goal into raptures.

Watkins brought Brentford back into the game just after the hour mark, controlling a long ball from Henrik Dalsgaard on his chest before rifling an unstoppable 25-yard volley past the helpless Walton.

The goal was Watkins’ 21st of the season, moving him one behind Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic in the race for the Championship golden boot.

Driven on by the deafening home support, the Bees found the leveller in the 71st minute.

Substitute Mads Roerslev fell softly under pressure from Bradley Johnson as he looked to break into the box – and the referee, despite an apparent lack of contact, pointed to the spot.

Benrahma assumed the responsibility and confidently dispatched the spot-kick, finally getting the better of Walton in the Rovers goal.

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With the scores level, both sides continued to create opportunities in pursuit of a potentially vital winning goal.

Armstrong spurned a golden opportunity to complete his hat-trick shooting straight at Raya when through one-on-one, while Benrahma was denied a last-minute winner by the outstretched boot of the impressive Walton.

Post-match reaction

Brentford Head Coach Thomas Frank remained in good spirits after the match, despite feeling aggrieved towards the penalty award for Blackburn’s second goal.

“I’m annoyed we didn’t win but immensely proud of the boys for their attitude, the way they stayed together, kept going and worked hard to the end,” Frank said.

“Not everything was perfect but we produced enough chances to get a goal. Then after conceding a very debatable penalty for their second goal we were relentless, got closer to them and got our reward.

“In the end Blackburn looked so tired and that is a huge credit to our team.”

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Meanwhile, Blackburn’s Head Coach Tony Mowbray was similarly unhappy with a refereeing decision going against his team.

“We have frustration about their penalty – it looked ridiculously soft to me,” Mowbray said.

Despite his disappointment at the penalty award, Mowbray paid tribute to the qualites of the Brentford side.

“For the majority of the game we managed them pretty well and we know what talented individuals they’ve got and how they can build pressure.

“They are a very good football team, well-coached and a well-run club but for long spells we were on top, so we leave frustrated and disappointed.”