The championship play-offs usually defy mundane things like form and statistics, but at least Brentford takes part in this end-of-season lottery with the advantage of dynamism.
That comfortable win over Watford was the third in spin and an eleventh game without a loss. Only time will tell if this matters, but right now, Thomas Frank’s men can barely any more.
It was a memorable afternoon for their brilliant striker Ivan Toney, whose second-half penalty scored 30 championship goals for the season, the number that Crystal Palace’s Glenn Murray scored 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 has already been confirmed, but the Hornets gave up their slim title hopes
MATCHING 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)
Unused substitutes: Daniels (GK); Reid, Janelt, Gordon
Managing director: Thomas Frank
Goal 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
Unused substitutes: Foster (GK); Troost-Ekong, Lazaar, Navarro
Manager: Xisco Munoz
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)
Toney has a trip to Bristol City this coming Saturday to beat Murray’s record. This is a record for the championship since it was renamed in 2004.
His penalty kick, after Marcus Forss opened the gate shortly after the break, ensured a third place for Brentford and a home game in the semifinals.
If that even matters to an advantage in one of the normally most unpredictable events in football, the little thing of £ 100 million plus all.
Their hard work is just beginning as they attempt to avenge last season’s final play-off loss to Fulham but they appear to be in the best shape from the quartet extending their season.
Toney hit on the spot to double Brentford’s lead and buried the house to the goalkeeper’s left
Watford saw the lean change of overtaking Norwich and taking the title slip off. Their return to the Premier League was assured last weekend and for the most part they played like a team that is already looking forward to their summer holidays.
Xisco Munoz was determined to continue their battle for the title until it was mathematically impossible.
Accordingly, it was a strong side at Brentford Community Stadium, but one with 21-year-old winger Joseph Hungbo, who made his full debut in place of Ismailia Sarr.
Brentford made a full debut for 20-year-old Danish midfielder Mads Bidstrup, but Frank resisted the urge to rest a few key people ahead of the play-offs as he sought more win momentum.
The visitors first threatened when Hungbo stretched his legs over the right flank before finding Dan Gosling unmarked in a pocket in the box. The midfielder’s shot was sharp but was blocked by beekeeper David Raya with full force.
Marcus Forss thought he opened the lead in the first half but the goal was ruled out later
Forss scored his goal shortly after the break and connected to Canos’ cross to strike home
But Hungbo was sent off 10 minutes later with a hamstring problem and skipper Tom Cleverley followed him down the tunnel a few minutes later.
By this point, Brentford had settled into the competition and they had several presentable opportunities before the break.
Sergi Canos drove a shot out of the way after Watford failed to clear his first cross from the left.
And the visitors weren’t vigilant when they noticed Christian Norgaard’s late run to the back post to hit Mathias Jensen’s free kick. Norgaard stepped just over the bar with his side foot.
Forss, favored here on the line by Emiliano Marcondes, returned to the net through a load of yellow shirts to be sidelined.
With the rise already confirmed, Watford could not break through against the West Londoners
Toney, who scored no goal in his last four games, put a firm header on goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann after Forss dug a good cross.
But Brentford didn’t have to wait long for the breakthrough after the restart. 58 seconds to be exact.
Tariqe Fosu advanced to the left as Will Hughes pulled back and pushed a ball through the inner channel into Canos.
His cross was just behind Toney, who was well marked, but no one had picked Forss at the back post, and he shot his ninth part of the campaign home.
While Watford can look forward to the summer break, Brentford will have to try his luck in the play-offs
Watford didn’t really react and Brentford was given an excellent chance to double his lead just before the hour.
Francisco Sierralta stumbled Toney into the box after Canos initially crossed from the right. Toney stepped forward and hit his personal milestone for the season with a perfect placement in the corner.
Isaac Success rattled the bar for Watford before Xisco made his debut in the closing stages to 20-year-old Maurizio Pochettino – son of PSG boss Mauricio.
It was almost 3-0 for Brentford when we entered stoppage time when Canos cut the infield and cracked the crossbar with one shot.