Brentford have moved second in the Championship after coming from behind and then surviving a late rally to win 3-2 against a spirited Bristol City side in west London.
Far from the 7-2 hammering against Wycombe on the weekend, the Bees were made to work by the Robins in the first half but their quality ultimately shone through after the break.
City goals from Zak Vyner and Nahki Wells bookended the game but strikes from Sergi Canos, Ivan Toney, and Saman Ghoddos helped Brentford go second.
Tariqe Fosu proved the star man for Thomas Frank’s side, setting up all three of the Bees’ goals, though mistakes from both City centre-backs for the first two didn’t help the visitors’ cause. All three came from Brentford’s right, highlighting the Robins’ current left-back issues.
The visitors were ahead before Brentford had barely had a touch. Owura Edwards won a dangerously placed free-kick with a wonderful turn and Jack Hunt took advantage, swinging in a probing ball which Vyner gladly poked home at the back post.
That kicked off a flurry of an opening quarter of an hour, with both sides having dangerous moments but the Bees the next to have a real effort on goal.
Toney chested down a ball into the path of Ghoddos, who hammered a strike at goal from the edge of the box but Dan Bentley was equal to it.
Holden named a side that was bursting full of pace and their game plan was clear as they looked to get the ball forward quickly at every opportunity, while the absence of Josh Dasilva was clear from the outset for the hosts as their more pragmatic midfield three struggled early on.
But City could only keep the Championship top scorers out for so long and it was level just before the half-hour mark. Alfie Mawson’s mistake allowed Fosu to burst forward and his low cross could only be punched into the path of Canos to smash in an equaliser.
The goal came at a frustrating time for the visitors, who had begun to exert some dominance and were winning everything in midfield – with Han-Noah Massengo dazzling in a rare start.
Holden’s side continued to look dangerous on the break and their bench were up in arms 10 minutes before the half when Antoine Semenyo raced through and was tripped but referee Tim Robinson said no foul.
The half finished in the same flurry that it had started in and tantalising set at one-all.
The question was always going to be whether City could keep up their intensity in the second period and they flew out of the blocks. A mazy run by Semenyo saw him tear past Rico Henry and then pull the ball back for Vyner, who was robbed of his second by a full-length save from David Raya.
But it was the Bees that took the lead five minutes after the break. Fosu continued his impressive evening by delivering a probing ball in from the right and Toney was there to convert – though serious questions have to be asked about how he beat Tomas Kalas to the ball.
From then on it never really looked in doubt for Frank’s men, as they smelt their chance to take control of the game and claim their spot in the top two.
It could and, probably should, have been 3-1 not long after the Bees’ second but Ghoddos failed to connect from a few yards out and handed City a lifeline in the process.
He made up for it in the 65th minute, however, slamming home Brentford’s third at the second time of asking after he saw his initial effort come back off the bar. Once again Fosu the creative spark.
Things began to look as though they could get ugly for the Robins as they were forced to weather a storm of attacks but they kept the deficit at two goals and introduced Jamie Paterson, Kasey Palmer, and Nahki Wells as they looked to turn the tide.
They grabbed a reply late on when a ricochet set Wells through and he rounded the keeper but ultimately it was too late for a comeback.
Brentford go second and are looking in ominous form.
FULL TIME: Brentford 3 – 2 Bristol City