Ten-man Brentford had an afternoon to forget in Sheffield, slipping to a second consecutive away defeat. Promotion-chasing Sheffield Wednesday – like fellow high fliers Brighton and Hove Albion, who came out on top against The Bees last week – scored first half goals that set on them on their way to a comfortable home win. But the game itself was destroyed as a spectacle by referee Scott Duncan, who chose to send off Yoann Barbet in controversial circumstances with less than five minutes on the clock and give Brentford a mountain they could not climb.
The game’s key moment involved the game’s two key figures, Sheffield Wednesday striker Gary Hooper and referee Mr Duncan. Brentford were on the attack, as they were for most of the first five minutes, but were turned by a long clearance. Hooper got between Barbet and Harlee Dean and when it appeared his touch had been too heavy, he went down. Barbet had been chasing back and in close proximity and Mr Duncan, from the half way line, decided an offence had been committed. Once that decision was made the dismissal of Barbet was a certainty, albeit Hooper would probably not have got to the ball before David Button.
Brentford had started the game brightly but were forced in to reshuffle. Jack O’Connell came on, replacing Konstantin Kerschbaumer, and Brentford switched to a 4-4-1 system. The free kick following the red card was drilled by Ross Wallace and well saved by Button but the opening goal was not long in coming. The hosts worked the ball down the left and a cross by Daniel Pudil took a deflection and looped fortunately in to the area of Fernando Forestieri who could rise and head home.
The disappointment felt by The Bees at the red card would have been heightened as they had taken control of the early stages. They should probably have been ahead inside 45 seconds when Alan Judge picked out a run from deep by Nico Yennaris but the shot was weak and Kieran Westwood made the save. The Wednesday goalkeeper was in action again soon after, denying Judge, but Mr Duncan’s intervention soon after meant Brentford’s momentum was halted.
The visitors did, however, continue to try and take the game to Wednesday. After going a goal down Brentford wanted a spell of possession and kept the ball in the central area while always looking for a ball forward. The energetic Yennaris was playing his part in making up for the loss of a man while Maxime Colin and Sergi Canós provided an outlet on the right. The hosts had the man advantage but for long stages of the first half Brentford were in the game. They could even have equalised when a corner was half cleared and Ryan Woods set up Canós but his shot was pushed away by Westwood.
Atdhe Nuhiu shot over for Wednesday and O’Connell blocked a Wallace shot but when Wednesday scored their second it was arguably against the run of play. It also had an annoying similarity, from a Brentford perspective, to the red card incident. Westwood kicked long and Hooper got in behind Brentford in the right channel, he let fly from 20 yards and the shot ripped past Button and in to the net.
That seemed to knock the stuffing out of The Bees and Wednesday sought to put the game completely out of sight by half time. O’Connell blocked a shot from Forestieri after a clever exchange of passes with Kieran Lee and a long range effort from Barry Bannan was saved by Button. Lee volleyed a Jack Hunt cross wide but didn’t have to wait long for his goal. Bannan lifted a ball forward, Hooper got above O’Connell, headed down, and Lee turned free of Dean before poking a shot past Button.
With Brentford 3-0 down and a man down at half time, the game was effectively over and the second period was about getting what they could out of the game. Sam Saunders was introduced at the break, replacing Canós, and The Bees once again took the game to their hosts. Yennaris was unsettling Wednesday with his energetic pressing while O’Connell dealt with the physicality of Nuhiu and Judge attempted to get closer to Philipp Hofmann and get Brentford in to attacking positions.
There was an early chance for Wednesday, when Button and Colin combined to prevent Forestieri converting a far post cross, but Brentford had the better of the early stages of the second half. They should have scored when Colin got away from Pudil and cut back for Yennaris but the midfield man fired over from ten yards. Saunders had a shot saved and Judge tested Westwood with an effort soon after. Saunders also had a shot blocked for The Bees, who were not letting the game situation affect them.
Colin almost created something for Brentford with a weaving run from deep that was snuffed out while substitute Aiden McGeady fired wide for the hosts. Bannan then fired a free kick in to a defensive wall but the game was starting to drift to a conclusion. Wednesday had no need to go hell for leather as the game was just about won and Brentford were unable to turn a decent second half performance in to a goal that would give them a sniff at one of football’s most remarkable comebacks.
The hosts almost made it four late on following a quick break. The ball was worked to Bannan on the left, he fed Lucas Joao, the shot was blocked by O’Connell and the defender then recovered quickly to combine with Button to prevent Forestieri converting the rebound. The fourth did come in the final seconds when Joao got on to a ball over the top and smashed it at the near post and Button saved from Forestieri at the death to prevent a bad afternoon becoming even worse.
Sheffield Wednesday: Westwood; Hunt, Sasso, Lees, Pudil; Wallace (sub McGugan 74 mins), Bannan, Lee, Forestieri; Nuhiu (sub McGeady 62 mins), Hooper (sub Joao 80 mins)
Subs (not used): Price, Turner, Semedo, Bennett
Brentford: Button; Colin, Dean, Barbet, Bidwell; Yennaris (sub McEachran 82 mins), Woods; Canós (sub Saunders h/t), Judge, Kerschbaumer (sub O’Connell 7 mins); Hofmann
Subs (not used): Bonham, Swift, Macleod, Vibe
Sent Off: Barbet (5 mins)