As time ran down on this fiery Championship clash — and Brentford’s long unbeaten run — sparks began to fly between the benches.
Brentford assistant manager Brian Riemer shared a particularly fruity chat with a member of the Barnsley backroom team, whose gestures suggested they should settle their differences some place else.
‘You want to fight me?’ Riemer asked with a cackle. Both kept their fists to themselves but soon it was Barnsley enjoying the last laugh. Deja vu, anyone?
Conor Chaplin (C) celebrates giving Barnsley a 1-0 lead away from home against Brentford
Carlton Morris (L) added Barnsley’s second with a strike from the middle of the penalty area
Back in July, on their previous visit to Brentford, Barnsley gate-crashed the Bees’ long farewell to Griffin Park with a win that secured their great escape — and cost Thomas Frank’s side automatic promotion.
Since then, Frank has led Brentford back to the shadows of the promised land.
After 21 league games without defeat, even a draw here would have lifted Brentford back to the Championship summit. Instead, Barnsley threw down another banana skin.
Valerien Ismael’s side deserved the points after a tireless display and goals from Conor Chaplin and Carlton Morris.
Thursday’s narrow FA Cup defeat by Chelsea laid the foundations for this first league win in 2021.
‘That game was a breakthrough for the guys, a gamechanger,’ Ismael said. ‘I’m very overjoyed for the guys, for a few weeks now we’ve performed very well but didn’t get the results.’
Barnsley players took the knee at kick-off while Brentford players stayed standing in formation
As for Brentford, this defeat won’t prove as immediately damaging as the last time Barnsley were in town. One beauty of this hectic season? Wednesday’s derby with QPR offers an immediate chance to bounce back.
‘It’s all about how we react, that’s the big test for the team,’ Frank said. ‘I’m very frustrated we lost because we wanted the run to continue but it was inevitable it would happen at a certain stage.’
It capped a turbulent weekend for Brentford, whose players on Saturday announced their decision to stop taking the knee before kick-off.
Top scorer Ivan Toney was among a wave of players to face racial abuse on social media and Brentford felt the anti-discrimination gesture had lost its impact. So Barnsley’s players dropped to one knee while the home side stood in formation, with Josh Dasilva and Bryan Mbeumo raising their fist.
Once football took over, the visitors immediately began to stifle the hosts. They carried no little threat, either, and reward came after 13 minutes.
Brentford’s Ivan Toney (L) goes into a fierce challenge with Barnsley defender Jordan Williams
Callum Brittain’s devilish cross found Chaplin and though David Raya got a hand to his close-range effort, the goalkeeper could only divert it home.
The goal sparked some life into Brentford, who could have levelled almost immediately. Rico Henry ran in behind before pulling the ball back to Dasilva. From the edge of the box, he screwed his shot wide and any sense that the tide had turned soon evaporated.
Barnsley were particularly threatening from wide areas — another Brittain cross was met by Morris and his looping header needed saving.
How they would have rued that — and other near misses — had their goalkeeper Brad Collins not kept out Saman Ghoddos’ shot during first-half stoppage time. As it was, Morris was soon gifted another chance and this time Raya was powerless to prevent Barnsley from doubling their lead.
Seventy seconds into the second half, Daryl Dike screwed a shot across goal and Bees defender Ethan Pinnock — formerly of Barnsley — tried to clear, fell over and put the ball on a plate for Morris to net his first goal for the Tykes.
Barnsley were extremely physical against Brentford, collecting 14 fouls in the first half alone
This time, Brentford struggled to muster any sort of response. In fact Barnsley had the ball in the net again, shortly before the hour, only for Dominik Frieser to be flagged offside after his cross was turned into his own net by Pinnock.
Eventually, Brentford did stir but the Championship’s top scorers fired only blanks for the first time in 12 league games. That bred frustration on the pitch — and in the dugouts.
Referee David Coote handed out several yellow cards to coaches — including Riemer.
‘I need to control my own emotions, the staff need to, the players need to, the fans need to,’ said Frank, who had no complaints over the result.
‘We’re in an unbelievable position. Are we satisfied by losing? No, but we need to move on.’