Brentford boss Thomas Frank heaped praise on counterpart Rob Edwards as Forest Green Rovers gave his Premier League newbies a mighty scare in the Carabao Cup.
The League Two minnows led the tie for an hour after Barnsley loanee Jack Aitchison gave Rovers a dream 8th minute lead – firing in after incisive play from the outstanding Nicky Cadden and Regan Hendry carved out the opening. Edwards’ side bossed the first-half but were indebted to a spectacular double block from Lewis Thomas, the penalty shootout hero from the previous victory over Bristol City.
Brentford turned up the heat after the break to hit three goals, with Rovers reduced to 10 after Ebou Adams’ straight red card for a lunging tackle with 10 minutes to go.
However, Frank was fulsome in his praise of Rovers, he told BBC Radio London: “I need to praise Forest Green Rovers, Rob Edwards and his staff, I think they did a top job and I think they were the better side in the first half.”We made nine changes and changed the formation as well, maybe that didn’t help, maybe I didn’t help the boys as much as I should have done.
“Football games are 90 minutes, so maybe we wanted to do something at the beginning, hoped that it would work better, but sometimes there are different moments in the game that change the momentum of the game.
“We’d like to go as far as possible and then find that balance between how strong a team we put out there depending upon the opponent.”
Meanwhile, Rob Edwards cut a proud figure after his side pushed Brentford to the wire, he told BBC Radio Gloucestershire: “I’m really, really proud of the players, every one of them. They put in an amazing performance, a really brave performance, we showed people what we were about.
“If we’re ever going to lose a game, that’s how we’re going to do it, and we left it all out there.
“The first-half performance was top quality. Bravery, quality, work ethic and desire, and potentially we could have had more than one goal.
“We forced them into some changes at halftime and obviously the game does change both on their tactical changes and their personnel changes.”
Rovers made six changes to the team that beat Crawley Town 6-3 on Saturday but it didn’t knock them off their stride in a scintillating first-half. Brentford made nine changes from the side that drew 0-0 at Crystal Palace and Frank handed the captain’s armband to former Forest Green defender Ethan Pinnock.
Frank shuffled his pack at the break – ushering on Sergi Canos and Frank Onyeka, but it was Rovers who almost snatched a second through Hendry. However, the Bees found their range and netted parity when Yoane Wissa turned the previously imperious Jordan Moore-Taylor to fizz beyond Thomas on the hour.
Thomas made an excellent save from Dominic Thompson’s volley.
But Bryan Mbeumo made no mistake on 75 minutes with a far-post header from Thompson’s cross from the left.
Rovers lost Ebou Adams to a straight red with 10 minutes to go and Forss wrapped up the victory as he converted Canos’ pull-back from the byeline after a mesmerising run by the Spaniard.
Brentford (4-2-3-1): Fernandez; Roerslev (Canos 46), Pinnock, Bech (Ajer 45), Thompson; Bidstrup (Onyeka 46), Janelt; Ghoddos, Dervisoglu (Mbeumo 68), Wissa; Forss.
Subs not used: Gunnarsson, Peart-Harris, Stevens.
Forest Green Rovers (3-4-1-2): Thomas; Bernard, Moore-Taylor, Cargill; Edwards (Matt 79), Hendry, Diallo (March 34), Cadden (Allen 74); Adams; Aitchison, Young (Wilson 59).
Subs not used: McGee, Sweeney, Evans.
Stroud Times’ Man-of-the-match: Nicky Cadden. The flying Scotsman didn’t look out of place against Premier League opposition and on this evidence, he has the ability to follow in the footsteps of Ethan Pinnock.
Referee: Will Finnie.
Next up: Rovers welcome Darrell Clarke’s Port Vale to The Fully Charged New Lawn on Saturday, 3pm.
Picture gallery: Shane Healey/ Pro Sports Images