Brentford came from behind to move into the Championship’s automatic promotion places with an entertaining 2-1 home win over in-form Bournemouth.
Dominic Solanke gave the Cherries the lead midway through the first half when he flicked Lloyd Kelly’s low-driven cross into the roof of the net. But the Bees hit back before the interval as Henrik Dalsgaard rose highest at the near post to power home an unstoppable header from Mathias Jensen’s corner. And they grabbed a winner 11 minutes from time when the substitute Tariqe Fosu headed home Bryan Mbeumo’s teasing cross at the far post.
That moved Thomas Frank’s side above Bournemouth and into second although Swansea could have nudged them into third if they had beaten Reading later in the evening, but the teams played out a 0-0 draw on a newly laid pitch at the Liberty Stadium. Norwich are three points clear after Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with QPR.
Frank said later that the extra experience his players gained from last season’s brush with promotion has made them a better side. “We might have gone 15 games unbeaten, but we are humble and we rely on togetherness because no team in the world will achieve anything if they are not together,” the Dane said.
“This group have been together for one-and-a-half years now. They had a fantastic season last time and were unlucky, but they are more experienced now individually and as a group and it shows in their performances.”
The head coach admitted he was concerned when Bournemouth started strongly in the first 20 minutes, but he was delighted with the reaction of his side. “Bournemouth were quick, moved the ball well and pressed us and we couldn’t get in the game, but we showed solidity and stability and grew into it,” Frank added. “We knew it would be a good and tight game between two good sides. I said at half-time that we needed to show more character and attitude. We showed that – they even changed their system, so it was a good way to end the year.”
Jason Tindall, the Bournemouth manager, rued his side’s inability to make a breakthrough in the first 20 minutes. “We were very good and created some excellent opportunities but we didn’t take the ones we had and got punished for the two defensive errors we made. It was really disappointing because we’ve been good defensively and for large parts tonight we were. We conceded from a corner for the first time this season and the second goal was unlike us, and that’s what is frustrating.”
“We’ve ended up losing a game we should have got something out of … but hopefully it’s a blip because I don’t think we deserved to lose the game based on chances. We will dust ourselves down and go to Stoke and put in a performance capable of winning the game. If we have a good second half to the season we will be there or thereabouts. We want to achieve promotion and we’re in a good place to do that.”
Swansea City thus sit third after Steve Cooper’s side were unable to make the most of their chances in their 0-0 draw. They had the better of the contest, and carved out a number of clear opportunities, only to find Rafael Cabral in inspired form in the Reading goal.
The Brazilian saved from André Ayew on three occasions, and also denied Jake Bidwell and Joel Latibeaudiere, while Marc Guehi fired over from close range. Reading had chances of their own and introduced the attackers Sone Aluko and John Swift as they grew in confidence, but it was noticeable how both teams were slipping on the fresh turf. Ultimately it was the Swansea defence who kept a 13th clean sheet of the season.
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