Swansea lead 1-0 going into the Championship play-off semi-final second leg at Brentford. Mark O'Haire expects the Bees to bite back at Griffin Park.
"A healthy 56% of play-off semi-final second legs this decade have delivered Both Teams To Score profit"
Brentford v Swansea
Wednesday July 29, 19:45
First leg review
Andre Ayew atoned for a penalty miss with a stunning goal to ensure Swansea hold the advantage in their Championship play-off semi-final contest with Brentford after beating the Bees 1-0 in the first leg at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.
Both sides created numerous chances in what was an enthralling feast of second-tier entertainment in South Wales. However, it looked on course to end goalless after Ayew had a penalty saved by David Raya in the second-half shortly before Thomas Frank's side had Rico Henry contentiously sent off in the 65th minute.
Swansea then turned the screw, Ayew striking a thumping half-volley home eight minutes from time to give Steve Cooper's side a vital one-goal advantage before heading to Griffin Park on Wednesday evening.
Brentford fall short
There was pain in Griffin Park's home dressing room in the wake of defeat by Barnsley in the 116-year-old ground's last regular-season game. In a division where consistency is notoriously hard to find, Brentford had conjured a supreme run of post-lockdown form to catapult themselves into automatic promotion contention.
But after eight successive victories, Thomas Frank's side stumbled with the finishing line in sight. They missed two opportunities to climb into the top two as they lost to two teams fighting against relegation, Stoke and then Barnsley on the final day. And now the Bees have suffered a third straight reverse after failing to build on a positive opening spell in Wales.
The Championship's most potent attack filed to find their clinical edge at the Liberty Stadium with star forwards Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma both missing good opportunities to put the Bees in control. Unfortunately for Frank, his team were undone late on but the Brentford boss remained positive about his team's performance.
Frank said: "I'm very proud of my players. We had two minor setbacks but we dominated the game and I think we were the best team. The red card changed the game. After that, they worked so hard and showed top togetherness. We only gave one chance away, one bit of brilliance from Ayew." The Bees are expected to appeal against Rico Henry's red card.
Momentum with Swansea
Swansea were three points adrift of the play-offs in 11th when football was suspended because of coronavirus. The Welsh club then took 17 points from their final nine games using a new-look 3-4-1-2 system to climb into the top-six for the first time since January in the final throes of the final day. Momentum was certainly with the Swans.
And Steve Cooper's charges continued their upswing on Sunday. Mike van der Hoorn was passed fit to play, meaning Swansea were able to select the same XI that started in what has since been dubbed The Madejski Miracle for the visit of the Bees.
Despite a relatively cautious start to proceedings, the Swans edged the encounter after the interval. Lively on-loan Liverpool forward Rhian Brewster was again central to the majority of Swansea's most threatening moments but it was Ayew's 18th goal of the season - coming just 16 minutes after he had seen a penalty saved - that proved decisive.
Post-match Cooper admitted he's disappointed Swansea don't hold a stronger advantage heading to Griffin Park, saying: "We're disappointed only to get the one, and obviously with the penalty miss. But I thought we were a real threat going forward tonight. There's a small advantage, but it's only an advantage if we use it." Wayne Routledge remains a doubt.
Bees hot favourites
Brentford were comfortable 3-0 and 3-1 winners against Swansea during the regular Championship season campaign, earning the former victory here on Boxing Day. The two triumphs ended a rotten W0-D1-L8 run against the Swans in head-to-head encounters, including three consecutive Griffin Park defeats.
Brentford 1.705/7 boast the Championship's second-best home record this term (W14-D5-L4) and concluded the campaign as the league's leading scorers. The Bees have bagged W21-D6-L9 since October's international break, garnering a barely believable +41 goal difference in that 36-game sequence, as well as earning a W6-D3-L2 record against fellow top-six sides.
Only Leeds and West Brom collected more points on their travels than Swansea 5.709/2 (W8-D11-L4) although Cooper's troops suffered losses in three of their four trips to top-six rivals (W1-D1-L3). The visitors have returned an encouraging W1-D7-L3 at top-half teams, however, the Swans are also posting a negative away process across a range of data metrics.
Both sides can oblige
Brentford have notched in 15 of their past 17 games with their famed front three of Bryan Mbeumo, Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma grabbing 57 (72%) of their 79-goal tally. Thomas Frank's team have scored twice or more in 11 of 23 Griffin Park games with Both Teams To Score 1.9110/11 landing in 6/11 (55%) when welcoming the top-half.
Swansea's regular season road trips have generated plenty of goalmouth action. The Welsh outfit's games as guests have averaged 2.83 goals, as well as 2.84 Expected Goals (xG), with Steve Cooper's men scoring in all bar five of their 23 away days with 15/23 (65%) paying out in the Both Teams To Score 1.9110/11 column.
The numbers suggest a repeat could be on the cards this midweek. A healthy 56% of play-off semi-final second legs this decade have delivered Both Teams To Score profit and Wednesday's match-up appears to have all the ingredients for a similar outcome.
Mark's 2019/20 Profit/Loss
Staked: 177.00 pts
Returned: 196.20 pts
P/L: +19.20 pts
Mark O’Haire says: back Both Teams To Score at 1.91 in Brentford v Swansea