Deflected McLean strike salvages draw at Brentford as City score late again
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Kenny McLean came off the bench to rescue a point for Norwich City at Brentford this evening, with his first goal in over a year.
The Scot came off the bench and proved that if you don’t shoot, you don’t score, with a deflected equaliser in the 87th minute - after some crucial Tim Krul saves.
The match-winning heroics of Mario Vrancic last week earned the midfielder his first start of the season, with Jordan Hugill dropping to the bench and Teemu Pukki returning as the lead striker.
Sporting the petrol blue away kit for the club’s first visit to the smart new Brentford Community Stadium in West London, Daniel Farke was forced into a late change after Xavi Quintilla pulled up hurt in the warm up, with Jacob Sorensen coming in to make his first appearance for the club in an unfamiliar left-back position.
Despite that disruption it really should have been the visitors taking the lead, with Emi Buendia skinning Henrik Dalsgarrd and charging through on goal, cutting back to avoid the sliding tackle of Ethan Pinnock instead of shooting, then hitting a rising shot over which David Raya Martin got a slight touch on.
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Vrancic also fired just wide from the edge of the box after more good play from the vibrant Buendia, with the long throws of Mads Bech Sorensen the biggest threat from the Bees.
A poor kick from Krul saw a low cross from England U21 international Josh Dasilva beat everyone and fly past the far post in the 25th minute.
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Then loose play from Todd Cantwell on the left allowed Brentford to counter, with Saman Ghoddos and Bryan Mbuemo moving the ball quickly and the latter’s low cross turned in simply at the back post by top scorer Ivan Toney, slotting his eighth of the campaign.
The hosts were buoyed and saw Mathias Jensen fire a powerful shot wide and Emiliano Marcondes flick a header wide and it would have been two were it not for a sprawling Krul save.
Cantwell inexplicably left Toney to charge into the box as Sorensen chucked another long throw into the mix from the left and the striker had the momentum to get above Jacob Sorensen a loop a header towards the far post that Krul did well to keep out.
City really should have been level at the break though, with skipper Grant Hanley going close to a goal for a third successive game, powering his way to reach a lovely free-kick from the right from Buendia, only to power his header over with just the keeper to beat.
Cantwell had held his hands up after slapping his forehead in frustration midway through the half, after one of his passes had gone astray, as a frustrating half saw him struggle to find his balance while also trying to protect Jacob Sorensen.
The academy product had been a doubt for the game with a hip issue and didn’t emerge for the second half, with Przemek Placheta replacing him on the left wing.
There were few signs of improvement though, with Vrancic not able to dictate the pace in his advanced role and a combination of over-playing from City and fewer risks being taken by Brentford creating a scrappy first 15 minutes of the second half.
It was Krul to the rescue again in the 63rd minute, as Henrik Dalsgaard intercepted Hanley’s clearance. Toney was up well to win the cross and nod the ball down to Bees skipper Dalsgaard, who charged into the box to beat Jacob Sorensen to the ball and prod goalwards from six yards, only for the Dutchman to block on his line.
Jensen and Dasilva had also tested Krul with powerful shots from range and Daniel Farke responded in the 69th minute, bringing on McLean and Jordan Hugill for Oliver Skipp and Lukas Rupp.
Vrancic dropped deeper alongside McLean in central midfield - with the Scot having made just one brief appearance in the last four games - in a change to a 3-5-2 shape with Gibson on the left of defence and Sorensen on the right.
Home substitute Vitaly Janelt was booked for taking out Buendia on the left with 10 minutes left but the Argentine’s cross to the back post was headed upwards by Ben Gibson with Vrancic in a better position behind him - with an almost identical free-kick delivery soon after beating everyone in the box.
The equaliser arrived in the 87th minute but owed a debt to a big deflection off Bees defender Sorensen, as McLean tried his luck from the edge of the box to snatch a draw and extend City’s unbeaten run to four matches.
Next up for the Canaries is another tough away game, at Bristol City on Saturday (12.30pm).
NORWICH (4-2-3-1): Krul; Aarons, Hanley (C), Gibson, Sorensen; Skipp (McLean 69), Rupp (Hugill 69); Buendia, Vrancic, Cantwell (Placheta 46); Pukki. Unused subs: McGovern (GK), Tettey, Stiepermann
Booked: Ben Gibson (foul on Mbuemo, 78)
Goals: McLean (87)
BRENTFORD (4-3-3): Martin; Dalsgaard (C), Pinnock, Sorensen, Henry; Dasilva (Janelt 70), Jensen, Macrondes; Mbuema, Toney (Forss 83), Ghoddos (Canos 58). Unused subs: Daniels (GK), Thompson, Goode, Fosu
Booked: Janelt (foul on Buendia, 80)
Goals: Toney (28)
REFEREE: Jeremy Simpson