Stoke’s nightmare winless streak in London continued as they threw away an early lead at the Brentford Community Stadium.
The Potters previous game ended a 2-0 loss away to Barnsley, in what was a real dent to their playoff hopes.
Michael O’Neill was again contending with a number of injuries heading into the Brentford matchup, with Morgan Fox, Rabbi Matondo, Sam Clucas, James McClean and Steven Fletcher all out, as well as Collins and Campbell who remain long-term absentees.
For their first trip to the new Brentford Community Stadium, the Stoke boss made two changes to his team with Welsh internationals Joe Allen and James Chester replacing Fletcher and Josh Tymon.
Brentford’s form had been indifferent heading into the game, with the Bees winning two and losing three of their previous five, but they still sat second in the table.
Thomas Frank’s side were boosted by the return of the league’s top goalscorer, Ivan Toney. Frank made two changes to the side that beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-0, with Toney and Josh Dasilva replacing Mathias Jensen and Sergi Canos.
𝗧 𝗘 𝗔 𝗠
— Stoke City FC (@stokecity) February 27, 2021
The game started in simply unbelievable fashion. With hardly 30 seconds on the clock, Stoke had found a shock lead.
An easy ball into the box was passed back to David Raya, but then the Spanish stopper cheaply gave the ball away to the onrushing Tommy Smith in the Brentford box.
Smith took a heavy touch, but was able to square the ball to Jacob Brown with the stand-in striker able to tap the ball into an unguarded net.
A dream start for the Potters, but they needed to remain focused and concentrated against the inevitable Bees onslaught.
📸 Up the 𝗳𝗶𝗿𝘀𝘁 𝗺𝗶𝗻𝘂𝘁𝗲 Potters! 😉
— Stoke City FC (@stokecity) February 27, 2021
Brentford did grow into the game, but Ghoddos’ wayward shot was all they had to show for the opening ten minutes.
With 20 minutes gone it was quite a fair game, neither side were seriously threatening the other’s goalkeeper since the early breakthrough.
It was pinball in the Brentford box on 32 minutes, after Chester’s flick-on was nearly turned home by Powell, and then hit wide by Brown.
Winston Reid wasted his side’s best chance of the game up to that point five minutes later, after he powered a free header way over the bar from a corner.
The hosts began to take more control of the game in the lead up to half time, but still struggled to make out any clear-cut chances.
Rhys Norrington-Davies was lucky to escape a second yellow card after a lunge on Toney just before the whistle.
Half time: Brentford 0-1 Stoke City
After a dream start to the game, the Potters held out well throughout the first half.
Brentford were very poor in the first period by their standards, and Thomas Frank would no doubt have been motivating his players in the interval.
They needed a lot more from key men Toney, Mbeumo and Dasilva if they were to break down a stern five-man Stoke defence.
Michael O’Neill switched some personnel at the break, taking off the two booked players Norrington-Davies and Thompson and bringing on Tymon and Cousins.
The Bees came out firing, as Josh Dasilva had an early shot blocked after Toney had forced his way into the Stoke box.
However it didn’t take long for the hosts to find an equaliser in the second half, after coming out a much changed team.
Some poor defending allowed Janelt to take a touch on the edge of the box, and caress a beautiful shot into the top left hand corner.
They had come into the second half much better than the first, and had their goal to show for it.
The home side kept pushing after the goal, and it was attack after attack as Stoke allowed a lot more pressure.
For all the Bees’ attacking though, they still were lacking their usual clinical streak.
Ghoddos’ shot was well saved by Gunn as it had looked to be flying into the top corner.
Stoke fashioned their first big chance of the half, as Cousins hooked a ball under the bar and Winston Reid produced some heroic defending to clear the ball before Powell headed home.
Brentford then found the lead for the first time in the game on 78 minutes.
A long ball was headed into Ivan Toney’s path, and the danger-man made no mistake as he got in-front of Souttar and tapped the ball across Gunn and into the net.
It was a lead they had pushed for, but the Stoke players would be so disappointed to have allowed the hosts to get back into the game so easily.
The Potters tried to claim an equaliser as they swung a late free kick into the box, but Nick Powell’s shot on the rebound sailed comfortably over Raya’s bar.
Full time: Brentford 2-1 Stoke City
MOTM: Vitaly Janelt
In a game of two halves, Brentford eventually nicked a winner after coming out much more focused and structured in the second period.
Stoke were effective in the first half, but their fitness levels and concentration dropped off as the game wore on.
It was a huge win for the Bees, especially after coming from behind and being so poor in the first 45.
Stoke will look at a number of things for their downfall but ultimately they were outdone by a piece of quality from the best striker in the league.
It’s now six years and four months since Stoke last won in the capital, a 2-1 win against Spurs back in November 2014.
Brentford still sit second in the table, and face an away trip to Norwich up next. Stoke stay 10th and face Swansea at home on Wednesday.
Match report by Oliver Walton.