Preston 0-5 Brentford: Bees keep their faint automatic promotion hopes alive with thumping win at Deepdale as they move to within nine points of Watford
- Brentford now nine points behind second placed Watford with a game in hand
- The Bees had drawn their previous four Championship fixtures in a row
- Ivan Toney scored his 29th league goal of the season to make it 4-0 at Deepdale
- Danish midfielder Emiliano Marcondes made it 5-0 to the Bees in stoppage time
It might be too little too late but Brentford rediscovered their mojo to arrest a stumble in their bid for a top two finish.
Clearly intent on prolonging Norwich’s seemingly inevitable ascent to the Premier League for another week against managerless opponents yet to avert the spectre of relegation, they struck five times at Deepdale in a clinical all-round display.
Thomas Frank reacted to a run of four straight draws that have transformed their own promotion ambitions from a push for the automatic places to the play-off route by altering his team’s shape. To devastating effect.
Preston defender Jordan Storey (right) clashes with Brentford forward Marcus Forss
Bryan Mbeumo celebrates after his goal gave Brentford the lead at Deepdale on Saturday
Marcus Forss celebrates after his goal put the promotion chasing Bees 2-0 up at Preston
Preston: Iversen, Storey, Lindsay (Gordon 53), Hughes, Van den Berg, Whiteman (Molumby 77), Ledson, Potts (Browne 54), Barkhuizen, Jakobsen (Sinclair 53), Evans (Bodin 77)
Subs not used: Bayliss, Moult, Huntingdon, Hudson,
Brentford: Raya, Jansson, Norgaard, Pinnock, Roerslev (Stevens 87), Fosu (Ghoddos 79), Jensen (Marcondes 83), Mbeumo, Forss (Canos 79), Toney, Janelt (Bidstrup 83)
Subs not used: Goode, Reid, Daniels, 29, Bech Sorensen, Stevens, Bidstrup
Goals: Mbeumo, (9) Forss, (26) Toney, (75) Canos, (82) Marcondes (90+1)
Referee: Tony Harrington
Gone was the back four in operation at Huddersfield seven days earlier in favour of a 3-4-1-2 system with Bryan Mbeumo a surprise choice at left wing-back.
The addition of a second striker in Marcus Forss reduced the burden on Championship top scorer Toney and switched the onus of their attacks.
Mbeumo revelled in his new position early on, delivering a free-kick into the area that Ethan Pinnock headed over the top and then emerging in his own six-yard box to head out for a corner, before dispatching just his fifth goal of the season with the kind of confidence evident in contributing 15 in 2019-20.
Mads Roerslev was granted the freedom of the right flank and his fizzing low centre was crashed beyond Daniel Iversen on the run from 12 yards by the Frenchman.
It was a similar tactic for Brentford’s stunning second goal too as Mathias Jensen drove through the centre of the field and fed the overlapping Roerslev whose pull back was swept home by Forss.
The visitors were well worth their 2-0 advantage, although it took a brilliant block by the all-action Roerslev to divert a drive from Emil Riis over the top in between their strikes.
All of Preston’s threat emanated from high balls into the area with Tom Barkhuizen’s long throws prominent.
Brentford striker Ivan Toney celebrates with team mates after his goal made it 3-0
But the division’s most prolific team Brentford, with their attacking swagger restored following a fallow few weeks, always looked the likelier to alter the scoreline.
And they did so a quarter of an hour from the end when Tarique Fosu marked his recall with a surge to the byline and dink that allowed Toney to nod in his 29th league goal of the season at the back post.
There was time for Toney’s ninth assist as he dashed down the left and squared for substitute Sergi Canos to convert from a yard.
Brentford winger Sergi Canos made it 4-0 to Thomas Frank’s side with a cool finish
Emiliano Marcondes capped off an impressive display for Brentford with a fifth goal
And another late replacement Emiliano Marcondes completed the rout when he fired in from an angle on the final whistle.
It is unlikely to alter their destiny of another shot at the top flight through the play-offs such has been the relentlessness of Norwich and Watford above them but it has returned some momentum against opponents sadly there for the taking.