Brentford’s recent history has been plagued by play-off heartache, but Saturday could see them make it 10th time lucky when they face Swansea City for a place in the Premier League.
The Bees lost 2-1 to Fulham in last year’s Wembley showdown, but, having finished seven points clear of the Swans in the final Championship standings, can make their superiority count.
Two Teams Tough to Split
Brentford and Swansea looked a good match during the regular season, both of their encounters finishing 1-1.
Another close contest is in store on Saturday, with Swansea finishing the 46-game campaign with the third-best defensive record in the division, conceding 39 goals, three less than their opponents here.
To add to that, goalkeeper Freddie Woodman leads the Championship in clean sheets, keeping 21 when you add in his side’s 1-0 semi-final first-leg win over Barnsley.
The Bees, though, do have the ability to break the game having netted a league-best 79 times and the way they bounced back to defeat Bournemouth 3-1 in their semi-final second-leg, overcoming a 1-0 deficit from the first game, showed how sharp they are.
One-Goal Wins Always Worth Considering
With everything that’s at stake, nerves are always a factor on these occasions and including Brentford’s near miss to Fulham last year, eight of the last nine Championship play-off finals have been settled by a single goal.
Swansea’s 4-2 win over Reading in 2011 is the last time this fixture featured more than three goals, with a 2-1 scoreline settling things in each of the last two seasons.
That result in Brentford’s favour holds real value at
21/4 and while it is likely to be cagey, that doesn’t necessarily mean tight and both teams to score for the fifth time in six Championship meetings between these two comes in at
Thomas Frank’s Bees to win by one goal is
2/1 and their added firepower appears to give them the edge.
Top Scorer Toney Can Strike Again
Losing Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma last summer could have floored Brentford, but their scouting network again came up trumps.
Ivan Toney has experienced the Premier League before, having twice featured off the bench for Newcastle United during the 2015-16 season, but after failing to make the grade at St James’ has had to rebuild his career through the divisions.
A strong spell at Peterborough saw Brentford lay out £5 million for him last year and he has excelled in the Championship, netting 32 goals, including in the second-leg win over Bournemouth.
That strike took the 25-year-old’s recent tally to three goals in four games and unlike his team-mates, he has experienced Wembley glory before, helping Barnsley beat Oxford United 3-2 in the 2016 EFL Trophy final.
He made an immediate impact on that occasion, his effort deflecting in off Ashley Fletcher to put the Tykes ahead just a minute after coming on.
*All odds correct at time of writing