Kevin O'Connor's Brentford B side won 4-1 against Wolverhampton Wanderers U23s at Jersey Road this afternoon. Goals from Nathan Fox, Herson Alves and a brace from Danny Parish ensured that The Bees began 2017 with a win.
The starting lineup showed six changes from the side that played Tottenham in December, including a return from injury for Bradley Clayton and a first start for Nathan Fox since his return from a loan spell with Margate.
An early chance for the visitors acted as an appropriate curtain raiser, Wolves going narrowly close to opening the scoring after only three minutes. Elliot Ward hit the post from a free-kick just outside the box, it dropped back into the area and was then parried away on the line by goalkeeper Dom Kurasik.
The home team responded with two chances of their own in quick succession. First, Alves broke away into the box to see a low shot saved by Harry Beasley and then James Ferry hit the bar with a header from the following corner.
After 12 minutes, a swift counter attack gave Parish the chance to score his first of the match. Neat passing through the middle ended when Clayton slipped the ball beyond the final defender for Parish to run on to. The forward broke away, rounded the goalkeeper and then fired the ball into the net.
Wolves' best chance of a reply came almost half way through the first period. Kurasik didn't get enough power behind a clearance on the edge of his box and it rolled to Austin Samuels, but the striker dragged his shot wide of the open goal in front of him.
Minutes later, Brentford almost punished them. Lukas Talbro beat his man down the left wing before cutting inside and squaring the ball back for Reece Cole. Cole drilled the ball through a crowd of players but Beasley was able to parry it and then scramble the ball back into his arms on the floor.
It didn't take long for Alves to get his goal with the run of play working entirely in his team's favour. Cole turned provider as he drove down the right before crossing the ball deep into the penalty area, where it was nodded away weakly and fell kindly for the Portuguese in the centre. Adjusting his feet, Alves blasted the ball into the roof of the net.
Just before half time, with Wolves well and truly on the ropes, the lead was extended to three. Fox burst away from his marker on the right wing, then cut inside as another defender committed himself too early and was left in the dirt. Fox didn't need an invitation to shoot, he unleashed a low drive that flew under the goalkeeper and made it 3-0 going into the break.
The second 45 saw England Under-18 international Ellery Balcombe replace Kurasik between the sticks. He was called into action straight away to catch a fizzed cross heading to the far post.
Brentford completed their tally through Parish again with 52 minutes gone. A long ball forward was controlled then clipped over to the far post by Clayton, where Parish was waiting to knock the ball into the bottom corner.
With just over an hour gone, Ferry had a goal chalked off when he slotted home a deep cross but found himself just beyond the last defender. Then O'Connor introduced Luke Dunn and Marc Rio to the fray, replacing Clayton and Alves in the attack.
Wolves' consolation goal came from a mistake at the back. Fox mistimed a pass back to Ferry and Perry ran through for a one-on-one with Balcombe, slotting the ball past the keeper into the net.
With the game well and truly won, Brentford sat back and were content to keep possession. Occasional chances came and went but nothing looked clear cut for the rest of the match.
The final kick of the game could have put The Bees even further ahead, but substitute Rio sent his shot narrowly wide of the left post before the referee brought the game to an end.
Brentford B: Kurasik (sub Balcombe 45 mins); Fox (sub Titov 80 mins), Ferry, Edobor, Talbro; Cole, Westbrooke (c), Assibey-Mensah; Clayton (sub Dunn 60 mins), Parish, Alves (sub Rio 63 mins)
Wolves U23: Beasley; Hesson (sub Rowe 70 mins), Sanderson, John (c), Whittingham; Perry, Ball, Watt (sub Rehman 60 mins); Carr, Allan (sub Giles 50 mins), Samuels