Brentford show there is life after Ivan Toney with giant step towards safety

Frank Onyeka celebrates scoring Brentford's second

Brentford took a giant step towards survival with their first win in 10 games – a victory that all but relegates Sheffield United.

And they did it without their talisman Ivan Toney, who remained on the bench all game as he continues his return from a hip injury.

This was a tough watch at times. Sheffield United were spirited but posed almost no threat to Brentford whilst Thomas Frank’s side were too often laboured in possession, the vast majority of which they had.

But at this stage of the season, even Frank will sacrifice performance for points and it would take a big collapse for Brentford to fail to retain their place in the top flight from here as they now sit seven points above the relegation zone.

“I just said to the players, please don’t do that to themselves or to me that we don’t win in nine. This season is a reminder that this league is brutal and relentless, the best and toughest league in the world,” said Frank.

“Good performance, not through the roof but I thought we definitely deserved the win. We’ve been struggling by conceding too many goals so that’s good. Offensively, we didn’t hit it.”

Brentford are likely to be without Toney next season and you could hardly say they flourished without him. Their first goal came as Mikkel Damsgaard marauded forward and saw his low cross deflect in off young United midfielder Oli Arblaster.

Oli Arblaster puts the ball into his own net
Oli Arblaster (centre) puts the ball into his own net - AFP/Glyn Kirk

Their second came from a throw-in when Kevin Schade touched on Sergio Reguilon’s delivery and Frank Onyeka scored from close range.

Those moments aside, Brentford lacked the focal point that Toney so expertly provides with Neal Maupay peripheral in the centre-forward position.

Frank can occupy himself with solving that problem over the summer if or when the situation arises. Chris Wilder’s close season will surely be spent assembling a side capable of an instant return from the Championship where they will start on minus two points following a deduction by the EFL earlier this week for defaulting on payments to other clubs during the 2022-23 season in which they were promoted.

“I don’t think there was a lot in the game. Our shape was good and I thought our three centre halves handled their three really well, said Wilder.

“For clubs in our position especially, to get to 0-0 at half-time is an achievement. If we’d have got the first goal it would have made for an interesting afternoon.

“The reaction of Thomas and the players at the end was one of relief and obviously it’s a huge win for them.”