Bees into playoff final, will Cottagers join them?

By Soccer Blog | Jul 30, 2020

Fulham will be hoping to set up an all-London Championship playoff final clash against Brentford when they take on Cardiff in the second leg of their semi-final at Craven Cottage. Scott Parker’s side will be looking to join their west London neighbours, who beat Swansea 3-1 to sign off from Griffin Park on a winning note.

The Bees were exciting to watch against Swansea, and on another day, the fixture could’ve very easily produced six or seven goals rather than the four it eventually did. Having lost the first leg 1-0, Brentford knew it was imperative to start well, and that’s precisely what they did, taking the Swans apart with some exhilarating football in the first quarter of the game.

BF

Ollie Watkins put the Bees ahead with an excellent counter attacking goal on 11 minutes. Swansea were at the other end of the pitch for a corner, but merely two passes later- one from goalkeeper David Raya and the other from Mathias Jensen, the visitors were picking the ball up from their own net.

Four minutes later, Emiliano Marcondes’ pin-point header from a Said Benrahma cross put the home side 2-0 up, with Swansea falling behind on aggregate in the tie. The third member of Brentford’s famed “BMW” striking force- Bryan Mbuemo, then got into the act, with a sweetly hit volley just after the break from the Frenchman making it 3-0 to the Bees.

Swansea had a couple of very decent chances, with Conor Gallagher and Connor Roberts both coming close, but were denied on both occasions by an inspired Raya. They eventually pulled one back from a Pontus Jansson error, with Rhian Brewster producing a fine chipped finish, but were unable to find another goal to force extra time.

Benrahma could’ve had a couple to himself- there was one that hit the inside of the post in the first half and another spectacular effort late in the game which went over the bar, and Brentford ended up deserved winners on the night.

DR2

Will Fulham join them?

Fulham are in the drivers’ seat in their semi-final clash, having beaten Cardiff 2-0 in Wales in the first leg. They also managed that win without the services of key striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, who was rested as a precautionary measure following a hamstring injury. Mitrovic has scored 26 of Fulham’s 64 league goals this season- a little over 40%, and his return will make Cardiff’s task even harder.

A look at the odds from WhichBookie indicates that the Bluebirds are huge underdogs for this clash. No side has ever overturned a 2-0 deficit in Championship play-off semi-final history, and Cardiff will be ruing the late Kebano free kick they conceded in the first leg, which has left them with a mountain to climb against the Cottagers.

Fulham vs Cardiff (H2H- last five Championship meetings)

Cardiff 0-2 Fulham
Fulham 2-0 Cardiff
Cardiff 1-1 Fulham
Cardiff 2-4 Fulham
Fulham 1-1 Cardiff

MITRO

That being said, Neil Harris has asked his charges to give it their all and they don’t have to look too far for inspiration. In this very season, they were down 3-0 against champions Leeds and fought back to draw 3-3 despite being reduced to ten men. Another example was the tie against Brentford in February, where they came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2, and perhaps should’ve actually gone on to win the game.

Both Cardiff and Fulham have aspirations of an immediate return to the Premier League, but only one of them will progress tonight. Awaiting them are Brentford, who have never played in the top flight in their history.

MITS2

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