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Report: Blues 1 Brentford 1

Blues pick up a creditable point and extend their undefeated sequence into double figures, with the only blot on the afternoon coming with Hogan’s premature withdrawal due to injury.

BCFC

Blues extended their unbeaten run to 10 games with a hard-fought and well-earned draw against promotion-chasing Brentford.

In a contest heavily affected by Storm Dennis, Pep Clotet’s side came straight out of the blocks and took the match to the fourth-placed Bees, going close a few times before Lukas Jutkiewicz pounced to score from close range after 13 minutes to take his seasonal tally to 12.

The visitors equalised well against the run of play, Ethan Pinnock scoring his first goal for the London club with a far post header, but Blues generally kept the visitors’ chances down to a minimum – a team that have bagged more goals in this campaign than any other Championship club, other than West Brom.

Both teams had other chances to claim maximum points, with Blues unfortunate not to be awarded a late penalty after Brentford’s goalscorer clearly handled the ball inside his own area.

Blues pegged Brentford back during the early exchanges and came within a lick of paint of going in front after Jude Bellingham’s curling 20-yarder crashed back off the foot of the post. David Raya had to be alert moment later to punch away Jeremie Bela’s in-swinging free-kick as Clotet’s men looked to take advantage of the conditions.

A driving run from Gary Gardner through the heart of the Brentford side could have brought about another opportunity, his pass almost putting Scott Hogan in the clear, but the Blues new boy had marginally drifted offside and he allowed the ball to roll through to the visiting keeper. Maxime Colin tried his luck from distance with an effort that fizzed only narrowly wide of David Raya’s right-hand post.

Blues’ early pressure finally told on 13 minutes and again Gardner was the main instigator of the move. The midfielder ghosted past Christian Norgaard and Henrik Dalsgaard before delivering a dangerous low cross into the box, Hogan was sniffing around but sensibly allowed the ball to roll through to Jutkiewicz who slid in to poke the ball into the net from close range.

There were strong appeals for a penalty after Bela caused problems for the Brentford defence, twisting one away and then another before landing on the turf under some considerable pressure. Hogan also had an early sight of goal against his former club, with the ball bouncing around the area he saw his shot blocked and the visitors eventually cleared the danger.  

The Bees levelled on 17 minutes, Pinnock rising at the far post to head home unchallenged from Emiliano Marcondes’ corner, the ball squeezing inside Lee Camp’s near post. It was very harsh on Blues who could have been two or three goals to the good by that point in the game.

Marc Roberts produced an important block to prevent Dru Yearwood’s driven shot from testing Camp. Jake Clarke-Salter and Ivan Sunjic were also in the right place to get in the way of quickfire efforts from Marcondes and Norgaard, as Thomas Frank’s team looked to complete the turnround in game that Blues had largely dominated for the first quarter.

The play switched back to the opposite end where Roberts had a header palmed away by the keeper, with Hogan again in the vicinity to try and take advantage but unable to connect as he waved a hopeful foot. Gardner’s direct and penetrative runs continued to cause problems for Brentford, the midfielder winning his side another free-kick which was taken by Bela, on target but relatively easy for Raya to collect.

The hosts were indebted to Camp for going in at the break level after Ollie Watkins got free on the right side of the box, but as Brentford’s 20-goal top scorer bore down on goal, the Blues keeper stood tall and got a strong hand to the shot to turn it aside. Camp was called upon again before the referee brought the first period to a close, diving high to his right to push away Said Benrahma’s 30-yard effort from the left flank.

Blues’ centre-backs almost combined to put the home side back in front on 54 minutes, Roberts’ long throw-in from close to the right corner flag was dropped by visiting keeper Raya and Clarke-Salter could have benefited but failed to make a good connection as he looked to force the ball over the line.

There was a worrying sight for Blues as Hogan went down with an injury after seeing his shot blocked by Pinnock. The striker twice needed treatment but hobbled on for a few minutes in clear discomfort before being replaced by Dan Crowley.

Brentford’s first real effort of note in the second-half came with 11 minutes left, Benrahma’s cross from the right poked goalwards by Marcondes, Camp alive to the danger turned it aside. That was the signal for a mini spell of pressure from the visitors, Fosu’s shot from Dalsgaard’s knockdown hitting the post and in the ensuing melee several Blues players attempted to clear as the ball bounced around the six-yard box.  

Another fantastic run from Gardner saw the midfielder cynically hacked down by Norgaard. Moments later there was another clear indiscretion from the visitors when the ball struck the arm of Pinnock inside the area, but the loud appeals were turned away by the official. An out-swinging cross from Crowley had Raya worried, the keeper backpedalling to palm the ball away before it landed into his net.

Blues pick up a creditable point and extend their undefeated sequence into double figures, with the only blot on the afternoon coming with Hogan’s premature withdrawal due to injury.

Blues (4-4-2): Camp; Colin, Roberts, Clarke-Salter, Pedersen; Bela (Harding 90+1), G Gardner, Sunjic, Bellingham; Hogan (Crowley 75), Jutkiewicz.
Subs (not used): Dean, Kieftenbeld, Montero, Boyd-Munce, Trueman (GK).

Goal: Jutkiewicz (13)
Booking: Colin (58), Clarke-Salter (60)

Brentford (4-3-3): Raya; Dalsgaard, Jeanvier, Pinnock, Henry; Jensen (Yearwood 9 (Fosu 70)), Norgaard, Baptiste; Marcondes, Watkins, Benrahma.
Subs (not used): Dervisoglu, Valencia, Fosu, Racic, Roerslav, Daniels (GK).

Goal: Pinnock (17)
Bookings: Yearwood (34), Dalsgaard (41), Norgaard (84)

Referee: Stephen Martin

Attendance: 20,379 (1,577 away)

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