Brentford 5-0 Birmingham: Bees thump sorry Blues
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 20/02/18 10:56pm
Brentford strengthened their play-off hopes with a 5-0 win over Birmingham, who sit just one point above the Championship relegation zone.
Two Ollie Watkins goals, one each from Florian Jozefzoon and Neal Maupay and a Marc Roberts own goal saw the Bees romp to an emphatic win in a scoreline that flattered Birmingham.
It was a nightmare first return to Griffin Park for Blues trio Harlee Dean, Maxime Colin and Jota, who all moved from Brentford to Birmingham in August.
It could have been a night to rival the hosts' 9-0 record win over Wrexham in 1963 but for a string of David Stockdale saves and some lacklustre finishing.
Brentford were dominant in a sometimes frantic first half which also saw the visitors have their chances.
Maupay went close with 10 minutes gone, but his volley at the end of a slick three-man move flashed just wide. The Frenchman went close again minutes later with an almost carbon-copy effort but snatched at the shot which fizzed past the upright.
On-loan City striker Sam Gallagher saw a strong penalty shout waved away when he went down after cutting inside Andreas Bjelland after 14 minutes, but should have done better minutes later when his close-range snapshot was blocked by Daniel Bentley.
The hosts took the lead just after the half-hour when Blues goalkeeper David Stockdale let Watkins' 25-yard piledriver squirm through his hands to nestle just inside the post.
And 10 minutes later, Maupay robbed Jason Lowe on halfway and ran clear to feed Jozefzoon, who picked his spot with a low angled drive from the edge of the box.
After the interval, Brentford were on a different level to Birmingham and carved the hesitant rearguard open almost at will, though Gallagher was first to go close when he fired over from close range from a rare Birmingham attack.
Jozefzoon turned provider with a low cross for Maupay to tuck home from close range and Stockdale was culpable for a second time on 54 minutes when he fumbled the ball for Watkins to square for Maupay, whose wayward first-time drive was deflected in by the hapless Roberts.
The goal rush saw Dean Smith's Bees oozing confidence but Stockdale made amends with a superb double save to deny Watkins on the hour.
Jozefzoon curled a teasing shot just wide before Watkins missed a sitter from point-blank range as Birmingham looked increasingly dispirited.
Stockdale tipped a Watkins header wide and repelled Jozefzoon's low drive as he staged a one-man rearguard to keep the scoreline in single figures.
But Jozefzoon was at the heart of things again 10 minutes from time when his whipped cross was nodded home by Watkins to make it five.
The travelling City fans had to wait until injury time for their side's best effort on goal. Gallagher's powerful header was blocked by a brilliant reflex Bentley save before Che Adams blazed the rebound over.
Dean Smith: "Every time we lose the ball we want to win it back. We've worked hard on that and our counter play. Added to that we're also making the right decisions at the right times. There is a hunger among the players. I said to them before the game that if you have desire and character, it lifts you above and gives you a little bit extra and we showed that tonight.
"We started at a high tempo and didn't really let up. We were aggressive and worked very hard. I'm delighted, but you can only get three points from each game so now we'll go onto the next one at Leeds and try to do the same."
Steve Cotterill: "The game was littered with mistakes. You can't afford to make poor mistakes in the Championship against a good team. Brentford are good without gifting them goals like we did tonight.
"When you look at the goals given away, four were errors. It's bad enough to have one in a game but to have so many is hard to do something about. There's not enough belief in the squad... there's going to be a lack of belief when you don't win on a regular basis.
"Every mistake we make at the moment seems to be a big and painful one, but there's not much more we can do than carry on working hard - there's no other way out of it."