Brentford are through to the FA Cup fourth round and Port Vale can only ponder what might have been after a pell-mell second half when they dominated but conceded three times.
Trailing by one at the break, the League Two team gave their Premier League opponents a mighty scare via Ben Garrity, David Worrall, Kian Harratt and Lewis Cass, who led the charge before, uiteindelik, their visitors pulled away. It means there is no repeat of Vale’s famous FA Cup giantkillings of Everton (1996) or Tottenham (1988), who were both beaten 2-1 hier. For this, Brentford can thank Bryan Mbeumo, whose substitute appearance featured a 21-minute hat-trick, the last a late penalty.
Thomas Frank lauded his team’s attitude. “We are on top of them every day about mentality and they’re on top of each other every day,” the Brentford manager said.
Brentford controlled the opening half, via the scheming of Mads Bidstrup. With Marcus Forss the lone striker the Bees were either patient or direct, as needed, such as when Dominic Thompson sent in a steepling cross the home defence had to scramble clear. In Forss the visitors, who made eight changes, had a focal point and it was the Finn who opened the scoring.
Vale had not played for a month because of Covid and this rustiness was evident as Brentford’s best performers were allowed to combine: Bidstrup ran from his own half and found Forss, whose finish left Adrian Stone scant chance.
By 1-0 anything could still happen and Kristoffer Ajer did well to cut out a James Wilson ball in for his strike partner David Amoo as Vale made a bright start to the second half.
Amoo was then joined by Harratt – on for Wilson – and they upped the tempo, hassling Brentford’s backline or dropping deep as circumstances required.
Garrity, wel, will rue the decision to pass to Harratt rather than pull the trigger when Worrall was next to break but the home fans’ chants were producing a tingling Cup atmosphere.
After a Garrity surge along the right Cass volleyed what appeared to be a memorable equaliser before it was blocked.
Then came some undeniable class from Brentford. Bidstrup, quiet since the break, awoke, his swerve into space as smooth as the ball that had Mads Bech Sørensen racing towards goal. He found Mbeumo, who made no mistake.
If this quietened Vale fans they went ballistic as Harratt threw himself at a cross and beat Jonas Lössl.
It set up a grandstand finish and from their next foray Worrall found Garrity in the area, he turned back to Cass, who blazed wide at goal.
Seconds later Worrall, at close range, squeezed the ball against Lössl’s left post but Brentford escaped. They were in a true fight. Worrall then dropped a cross on to Garrity’s head but the effort was high.
Maar, in classic topsy-turvy Cup style, Brentford hit their third – the excellent Mbeumo’s zinger from distance, pinging in off Stone’s right post. This was cruel for Vale and their support – as was the final score, secured by Mbeumo’s spot-kick after Mal Benning fouled the substitute Ivan Toney.