The championship playoffs usually defy trivial things like form and statistics, but Brentford is at least taking part in this year-end lottery with the advantage of momentum.
This comfortable win over Watford was their third in the spin and an 11th unbeaten game. Only time will tell if this matters, but right now Thomas Frank’s men can do little more.
It was a memorable afternoon for their brilliant striker Ivan Toney whose second half penalty earned them 30 championship goals for the season, equal to the number scored by Crystal Palace’s Glenn Murray in 2012-13.
Brentford confirmed third place in the championship on Saturday with a win over Watford
Marcus Forss (C) opened the scoring for the Bees before Ivan Toney sealed the three points
Watford’s promotion had already been confirmed, but the Hornets gave up their meager title expectations
MATCH FACTS / PLAYER REVIEWS
Brentford (3-5-2): Raya; Jansson (c), Norgaard, Sorensen; Roerslev (Stevens 89), Bidstrup (Goode 80), Jensen (Marcondes 80), Fosu, Canos; Forss (Ghoddos 73), Toney (Mbeumo 73)
Turnouts not used: Daniels (GK); Reid, Janelt, Gordon
Manager: Thomas Frank
Scorers: Forss 46; Toney pen 60
Booked: Bidstrup, Canos
Watford (4-3-3): Bachmann; Cathcart, Kabasele, Sierralta, Masina; Cleverley (c) (Success 30), Hughes (Wilmot 85), Gosling (Pochettino 85); Hungbo (Zinckernagel 23), Gray (Perica 85), Sema
Turnouts not used: Foster (GK); Troost-Ekong, Lazaar, Navarro
Manager: Xisco Munoz
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)
Toney is heading to Bristol City next Saturday to beat Murray’s number, a championship record since it was renamed in 2004.
His penalty kick, after Marcus Forss opened the score just after half-time, led to a third place for Brentford and a draw in the semi-final.
If that gives even an advantage in what is typically one of football’s most unpredictable events, with the small matter of £ 100 million plus riding on it.
Their hard work has only just begun and they are trying to take revenge on last season’s latest loss to Fulham, but the quartet extending their seasons seems to be in the best shape.
Toney struck from the spot to double Brentford’s lead and buried to the left of the goalkeeper
Watford saw their little change from overhauling Norwich and winning the title slip away. Their return to the Premier League was secured over the weekend and they have largely played as a team already looking forward to their summer break.
Xisco Munoz was determined to continue their fight for the title until it was mathematically impossible.
Accordingly, it was a strong squad at the Brentford Community Stadium, but one with 21-year-old winger Joseph Hungbo making his full debut in place of Ismailia Sarr.
Brentford gave a full debut to 20-year-old Danish midfielder Mads Bidstrup, but Frank resisted the urge to rest a few key personnel ahead of the playoffs as he looked for some more winning momentum.
The visitors were the first to threaten when Hungbo stretched his legs down the right flank before unmarking Dan Gosling unmarked in a bag of space in the box. The midfielder’s shot was sharp, but was repelled at full force by Bees keeper David Raya.
Marcus Forss thought he had opened the scoring in the first half, but the goal was later disallowed
Shortly after the break, Forss got his goal and connected with the cross from Canos to hit home
But Hungbo was forced to leave 10 minutes later with what appeared to be a hamstring problem, and skipper Tom Cleverley followed him through the tunnel a few minutes later.
By then, Brentford had settled into the game, creating several presentable chances before half-time.
Sergi Canos aimed a shot wide after Watford had not sufficiently cleared his initial cross from the left.
And the visitors weren’t alert to see Christian Norgaard’s late run to the back post to meet Mathias Jensen’s free kick. Norgaard just crossed the bar.
Forss, who was preferred in the front line by Emiliano Marcondes here, hit back through a crowd yellow shirt into the net and then sidelined.
With the already confirmed promotion, Watford was unable to break through against the West Londoners
Toney, without a goal in his last four appearances, headed goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann firmly after Forss dug a good cross.
But Brentford didn’t have to wait long for their breakthrough after the restart. 58 seconds to be exact.
Tariqe Fosu advanced to the left as Will Hughes retreated and he slid a ball down the inner channel to Canos.
His crotch was just past Toney, which was well marked, but no one had picked up Forss by the back post and he raced to his ninth of the campaign.
While Watford can look forward to their summer break, Brentford has to try their luck in the playoffs
Watford didn’t really react and Brentford had a brilliant opportunity to double their lead just before the hour.
Francisco Sierralta tripped Toney in the penalty area after Canos initially crossed from the right. Toney stepped up and reached his personal milestone for the season with a perfect corner placement.
Isaac Success rattled against the course of events on the crossbar for Watford before Xisco handed out a debut in the closing stages to 20-year-old Maurizio Pochettino – son of PSG boss Mauricio.
It was almost 3-0 for Brentford as we entered stoppage time when Canos cut the infield and rattled the crossbar with a cracker from a shot.