Barnsley ended Brentford’s 21-game unbeaten run and denied them the chance to return to the top of the Championship with an ill-tempered 2-0 win in west London.
Goals from Conor Chaplin and Carlton Morris inflicted the Bees’ first defeat since the end of October. Chaplin opened the scoring after 13 minutes when he arrived late at the far post to slot home Callum Brittain’s right-wing cross, as the home defence watched. Morris stretched the visitors’ lead two minutes after the break when he fired home off the post after the Bees defender Ethan Pinnock failed to deal with Daryl Dike’s low cross.
The Brentford head coach, Thomas Frank, admitted his team’s run was halted by the better side. But he said the Bees’ response in the midweek derby at QPR would be the more important measure of their promotion credentials.
“We knew before that Barnsley would make it difficult,” he said. “We lost to the better team today, but it is how we react to it and how we bounce back that matters. It was inevitable that we would not go the rest of the season unbeaten but I think we have been so consistent and so good. Today there was no lack of effort and they put everything out there. There was big determination and we lost a game to a team that were at their very top level.”
Barnsley started by far the brighter and won most of the early duels in a high-tempo opening, and it was no surprise when they took the lead through Chaplin. Josh Dasilva wasted a perfect chance to get the Bees back on terms but took aim only to fire Rico Henry’s cutback just past the right-hand upright.
Michal Helik denied Ivan Toney on the half-hour with a decisive challenge to deny the hosts’ top scorer his first sight of goal from Bryan Mbeumo’s near-post cross. At the other end Morris’s header forced the Bees goalkeeper David Raya into a full-length save after a whipped cross from Brittain.
Minutes later Pinnock twice went close in a matter of seconds with powerful low drives but the Tykes defender Dike blocked both before they could test the goalkeeper Brad Collins.
Brentford struggled to combat the visitors’ high press in a first half that saw Barnsley drag their in-form hosts into a series of physical battles. When Brentford did break free of the midfield shackles, they were restricted to half-chances by a side intent on disrupting the hosts’ rhythm.
Within minutes of the restart Frank’s side had a mountain to climb, though, as Morris’s first goal of the season gave his side a two-goal cushion. And the second-half substitute Victor Adeboyejo almost added to the London club’s woes with almost his first touch after coming on, volleying just past the angle.
Toney had a strong penalty shout waved away after a Helik shove in the box but the referee David Coote, who offered the Bees’ top scorer little protection all afternoon, waved away the protests.
A quick counter-attack found Canos, who cut inside on 66 minutes and fired in a low drive which Collins fumbled – but the ball would not drop to one of the onrushing Bees strikers. It was the story of the afternoon for the promotion chasers, who might have ended up on the wrong end of an even heavier defeat had Cauley Woodrow converted a late breakaway chance.
The Barnsley manager, Valérien Ismaël, was keen to keep his players focused ahead of their midweek game against Blackburn. “We won but we have only three points,” he said.
“For a few weeks we’ve performed well but not got the result, but all the time against the top sides like Norwich and Watford we have been very close. The game against Chelsea gave us a lot of confidence because if you play like that against them you can compete against any side in the league.”