BRENTFORD 3 BARNET 1

Bill Hagerty sees Brentford dismiss those other Bees to reach the fifth round in another exciting FA Cup-tie  

 

A lesson learned the previous Saturday, when Brentford conceded two goals inside seven minutes before regrouping to thrash Blackburn Rovers, is fundamental: get your retaliation in first. When rugby legend Willie John McBride came up with the phrase he was advocating early physical response against a ferocious South African side, but just as effective was the Bees’ more cultivated interpretation: score two goals before they do.

Sergi Canos and Julian Jeanvier, each fed by Said Benrahma, duly obliged, leaving the visitors, who had more than held their own at The Hive, down, if not out. In fact, very much not out. Revitalised at the break, Barnet roared back to turn the second half into a contest almost as thrilling as the first encounter.

Their passion, if misdirected, was evident within minutes of the restart. A sliding tackle from the kamikaze school of football finesse felled Canos and sparked a melee involving a dozen or so players and stopped, as far as one could see, just short of fisticuffs. Referee Roger East dispensed cards like a Mississippi poker dealer but none of them red – having not issued one in his previous 17 matches this season, perhaps he didn’t want to spoil his record.

Tempers restored, Barnet continued at a lick and might well have halved the deficit when substitute Dan Sparkes, whose immaculate free kick was the best of the goals at The Hive, stepped up to take another. This time the ball flew narrowly over the bar. Nice try, but no cigar.

Brentford, meanwhile, still threatened – a goal-bound shot from the ever-hungry Maupay required a remarkable save by keeper Mark Cousins to keep it out – but such was Barnet’s spirit that Thomas Frank’s resistance to making wholesale changes to the side that beat Blackburn was fully vindicated. 

Maupay snatched his twentieth goal of the season when, fortuitously, Henrik Dalsgaard’s cross took a deflection that wrong-footed Cousins and fell at the Brentford striker’s feet, before Barnet won that cigar. The Bees’ defence had adopted, familiarly, the role of spectators as left-back David Tutonda collected Sparkes’ cross to turn smoothly and give Luke Daniels no chance.

Romaine Sayers, unfamiliarly, had a shot blocked and his follow-up scrambled away before ending up with his nose in the turf. He then gave way to Josh Dasilva in Frank’s third substitution, leaving Josh McEachran looking jaded, lonely and increasingly out-of-touch in midfield. Still, you can’t win ‘em all. 

Frank’s introductions from the start into what was basically a first-team structure, both impressed. Mads Bech Sorensen, nervous as a kitten to begin with in defence, grew in stature by the minute, while Moses Odubajo – what a good decision it was to award him a contract when injury left him club-less – ran Barnet ragged as West London’s Bees extended their unbeaten run to ten. 

‘Job done,’ said Frank at the end of 120-plus minutes of typical Cup-tie football. ‘I’m immensely proud of how we conducted ourselves in the second half,’ said visiting manager Darren Currie, and he has every right to be. 

 SBarnet return to National League business while Brentford claim the glittering prize of a trip to Swansea, on a Sunday, when there will be severe rail disruption, for a 4pm kick-off dictated by TV coverage on… wait for it… BBC Wales. It will probably be raining, too.

 

‘Can’t wait,’ said my mate Charlie.

 

Brentford: Daniels, Konsa, Bech Sorensen, Dalsgaard, Odubajo, McEachran, Sawyers (sub Dasilva), Jeanvier, Canos, Maupay (Ogbene), Benrahma (Forss).

Barnet: Cousins, Alexander, Sweeney, Johnson (sub Boucard), Tutonda, Taylor, Robson, Fonguck (sub Sparkes), Mason-Clark, Coulthirst (Akinola), Elito.