Brentford scored three second half goals as they came from behind to record a comprehensive win over Milton Keynes Dons. The Bees trailed early on but Sergi Canós equalised and although Brentford did not reach the heights they have done in recent weeks, they had the better of the first period. And they took complete control after the break. They scored three times without reply to ensure their fifth win in six games so far this month and pick up a 4-1 win that condemned MK to relegation.
Lasse Vibe continued his fine run of form with his sixth goal of the month just after half time but MK responded well and had chances to level. The hosts could not score, however, and Ryan Woods grabbed his second Brentford goal to extend the lead and captain Jake Bidwell made it four late on. The score line may have flattered Brentford a little but The Bees were certainly the better team in both penalty areas and were well worth the three points.
The home side started the day knowing they needed to win to have any chance of avoiding relegation but they did not fly out of the blocks. In fact it was Brentford who were first on the front foot and Canós narrowly failed to connect with a Maxime Colin cross after the right back had burst from deep. The Bees dominated early possession and territory but MK took the lead with their first attack. A long ball in to the left channel found Josh Murphy and he tricked his way past Colin before delivering a superb low cross that Nicky Maynard turned in from close range. It was a well-worked goal from the hosts and once Colin was beaten, no other Brentford player was given much of a chance.
That lead only, however, lasted three minutes as Canós – who was already drawing boos from the home fans – scored his sixth of the season. A Bidwell cross was half-cleared and the young winger measured a curling shot in to the top corner from 20 yards, leaving Cody Cropper helpless. The two early goals meant the game had yet to settle in to a pattern. Brentford were showing signs they could exploit a lack of confidence in the hosts and were trying to dominate possession but MK had an outlet in Murphy they were looking to utilise.
And Murphy almost created a second for the hosts just past the quarter hour. A long ball released the left sided player in behind Colin and he drilled in a cross that was again met by Maynard but this time his effort was superbly kept out by a point-blank save from Button. A Jonny Williams shot deflected wide soon after but Brentford began to take control. Canós was tormenting MK at times, popping up left, right and centre to run at the home defence. But the hosts were contributing to their own problems, their attempts to play the ball around in their defensive areas were regularly failing as Brentford pressed high and passes went slightly astray.
Cropper was also looking nervous for the home side. He was charged down by Vibe on more than one occasion when in possession and was lucky he did not hand Brentford a second goal. Vibe was able to prevent Cropper kicking away and won the ball in the MK penalty area, but by the time he turned and got a shot away, Kyle McFadzean was able to block. McFadzean saved his side again soon after, getting a toe in to prevent Vibe scoring after Cropper had spilled a fierce shot from Konstantin Kerschbaumer.
Kerschbaumer then had a shot blocked as Brentford started to dominate and when Harlee Dean headed a Bidwell free kick back, Yoann Barbet’s shot was blocked and then saved. After an end-to-end spell in the middle of the half, the game started to drift as the first period came to a close. Brentford had more of the ball but there were few openings and MK’s robust defence was preventing The Bees working opportunities. A Kerschbaumer shot looked as if it could have been heading it but it deflected wide while at the other end a Carl Baker free kick landed on the top of the net.
Brentford had probably not been quite at their best in the first half but started the second much better. Nico Yennaris shot wide from distance within 30 seconds of the restart and Alan McCormack then blasted wide after exchanging passes with Kerschbaumer. MK had made a double change at the break with Charlie Burns coming on in goal and Anthony Kay in defence and their lack of organisation was shown up as Brentford went ahead. A clearance from Barbet turned in to a good pass as Vibe raced in to the inside left channel and a low first-time finish beat Burns and nestled in to the corner.
Given MK’s position and the changes they had been forced in to, that may have killed the hosts. But instead they responded strongly, desperately trying to save their Championship status. They were still looking regularly for Murphy on the left and he was troubling The Bees. One run set up a shooting chance for Baker but it hit Williams and he fired across the face of goal soon after. Maynard should have equalised when he beat the offside trap to get on to a long ball but Barbet galloped back to make a tackle and the eventual shot was saved. Substitute Alex Revell then missed a great chance when Murphy got on to a Dean Lewington pass and cut the ball back only for the striker to turn it wide at the near post from close range.
Canós had a shot blocked for The Bees but they were having to weather a storm and the speedy Josh Clarke was brought on at right back to try and limit the impact of Murphy. The MK man had a shot saved and Button also denied Darren Potter but it seemed to have the desired effect as Brentford regain the initiative. Kerschbaumer miss-shit a shot after exchanging passes with Bidwell and substitute Marco Djuricin then looped a header on to the crossbar.
Kerschbaumer had another shot blocked for The Bees but the third goal came with 12 minutes remaining. McCormack was the main architect, spraying a ball to the marauding Bidwell on the left, the Brentford skipper killed it instantly and fed Djuricin before he set up Woods for a shot that beat Burns even though it looked like it probably should not have. And from then on it was a matter of how many The Bees would score.
Confidence surged through the visitors and they showed what a top ten Championship side can produce. Djuricin saw a low shot saved and Andy Gogia shot narrowly over before Woods shot wide. Brentford’s fourth goal came in the final minute. After MK had penalty appeals turned down Brentford broke before Gogia was felled on the right. Bidwell delivered a free kick that bounced past everyone and nestled in the far corner giving the skipper a third goal in just over four months after waiting almost 200 games to break his duck. There was still time for Burns to tip a Gogia shot over as Brentford searched for a fifth but referee Andy Woolmer brought proceedings to a close soon after to relegate MK and give Brentford a fifth win in six.
Milton Keynes Dons: Cropper (sub Burns h/t); Baldock, McFadzean, Walsh (sub Kay h/t), Lewington; Potter, Forster-Caskey; Williams (sub Revell 55 mins), Baker, Murphy; Maynard
Subs (not used): Bowditch, Spence, Powell, Long
Brentford: Button; Colin (sub Clarke 59 mins), Dean, Barbet, Bidwell; McCormack, Yennaris; Woods, Kerschbaumer, Canós (sub Gogia 77 mins); Vibe (sub Djuricin 59 mins)
Subs (not used): Bonham, O’Connell, Swift, Cole