Brentford v Cardiff
Tuesday April 20, 18:00
Brentford fail to fire
Brentford's hopes of automatic promotion from the Championship faded further as they were held to their fifth draw in six matches by Millwall on Saturday. With second-placed Watford losing, the Bees could have closed the gap to six points (with a game in-hand) but Thomas Frank's team managed just one shot on-target in their goalless weekend stalemate.
Marcus Forss missed Brentford's best opportunity to break the deadlock. The Finnish striker collected Mathias Jensen's long ball and turned away from George Evans only to then fire into the side netting. The Bees dominated possession but toiled against a determined Lions defence, with the visitors arguably fashioning the best opportunities in a tight tussle.
Frank said: "There is a hurricane inside me but I try to stay calm because the team and I will only benefit from a cool head and warm heart. Seven games unbeaten is fine but we would have loved to have turned at least three of those draws into wins, and should have. The performance was a little flat but there was no lack of passion, willingness, hard work or attitude."
McCarthy frustrated by dropped points
Yakou Meite snatched a last-gasp equaliser for Reading as they came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw against Cardiff with virtually the last kick of the match on Friday night. Both sides had their moments, while neither looking too fluid throughout, but with fewer than five minutes to go, one flashpoint looked to have handed the Bluebirds an away victory.
Kieffer Moore drew a foul from Omar Richards and the striker stepped up and banged home from 12 yards to record his 17th of the season. But, with literally seconds of injury time left, Reading piled forward and a floated ball into the box that was met by the impressive Meite, who headed home to snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat, to Mick McCarthy's frustration.
Despite having little left to play for, a furious McCarthy bemoaned the manner in which City fell to yet another late equaliser. He said, "I'm raging. That's how I'm feeling. I'm sick of conceding goals at half-time, full time, full time today. "I'm disappointed for the players, they are all raging, they are all sick. We have got to get that out of us."
Brentford come into this contest unbeaten in three recent meetings with Cardiff, including a 3-2 success in the Welsh capital back on Boxing Day. However, the Bees have only tabled five triumphs in 15 head-to-heads with the Bluebirds this century (W5-D2-L8), a record that includes a W3-D1-L3 return when welcoming City to West London.
Brentford's 1.748/11 automatic promotion prospects have stalled in recent weeks. The Bees had tabled eight triumphs from nine during a remarkably impressive unbeaten streak through the winter but Thomas Frank's team have managed just W4-D5-L4 in their most recent 13 outings since Valentine's Day. That includes a frustrating W2-D3-L1 as hosts.
Cardiff 4.607/2 surged into play-off contention immediately after Mick McCarthy's arrival. But the Bluebirds bid for a top-six finish has extinguished following a number of key injuries and costly late goals conceded. The capital club boast just a W2-D5-L3 record over their past 10, including a 5-0 thrashing at relegation-threatened Sheffield Wednesday on the road.
Surprisingly, Brentford had kept their sheets clean in only three of 20 Championship contests since mid-December before their current streak of three successive shutouts. Nevertheless, the Bees own firepower has led to 14 of those 23 tussles rewarding Both Teams To Score 1.9620/21 backers and a repeat appeals at the prices on Tuesday night.
After an early flourish of goal-filled games under Mick McCarthy's tutorship, Cardiff's contests started to trend towards lower-scoring match-ups. Indeed, four of the Bluebirds most recent eight fixtures have featured a maximum of one goal, and seven of the last 10 outings in the Championship have also paid out for Under 2.5 Goals 1.774/5 supporters.
Nevertheless, with Cardiff now publicly calling off their play-off bid, the freedom that follows could lead us towards a more enjoyable meeting than the market currently anticipates. Brentford have scored in 15 of 20 home games this season with Cardiff notching in 16 of their 21 away days, making BTTS worthy of an interest this midweek.