HONOURS EVEN: Toney goal sees Villa share the points with Brentford
PA - Barrington Coombs
Ivan Toney maintained Brentford’s unbeaten start to the season as the Bees earned a deserved 1-1 draw at Aston Villa.
The striker’s first goal of the campaign ensured Thomas Frank’s side continue their seamless adaptation to life in the Premier League.
Emi Buendia’s leveller, his first goal since a club-record move from Norwich, pegged the Bees back but five points from their first three games represents a healthy return, as they denied former boss Dean Smith victory at Villa Park.
Smith left Brentford for Villa nearly three years ago and, despite Buendia’s brilliant goal, never saw the hosts take full control.
Indeed, they fell behind after just seven minutes when Toney gave the Bees the lead.
Villa failed to clear Saman Ghoddos’ corner to allow Sergi Canos time to cross low for Pontus Jansson to flick on.
He found Toney unmarked and the striker smashed his first top-flight goal high into the corner from 10 yards.
The 25-year-old has now scored in League Two, League One, the Championship and the Premier League.
Yet, the Bees’ lead lasted just six minutes when record buy Buendia officially announced himself to Villa Park.
Danny Ings scampered down the left and found the Argentine in an embarrassing amount of space on the edge on the area as Rico Henry inexplicably backed off.
The £33million man, who joined from Norwich in the summer, needed no second invitation and expertly curled a peach past David Raya.
It allowed Villa to turn up the tempo and only Raya’s sharp reactions stopped Ings firing them ahead but Brentford rode out a brief storm and should have regained the lead after 33 minutes.
A combination of Toney and Vitaly Janelt teed up Henry – who played for Smith at Walsall and Brentford – only for the defender to drag inches wide.
Raya claimed Axel Tuanzebe’s glancing header before Emi Martinez was almost embarrassed by Janelt and Villa survived a major scare five minutes before the break.
Martinez had the ball pinched by Janelt as he threw it in the air to clear and the midfield rolled it in, only for referee Peter Bankes to quickly cut short his celebrations.
It capped an open and vibrant first half but neither side could maintain the tempo and the game slipped into a scrappy lull from which it never escaped.
There was willingness from Buendia as probed with little reward while Brentford struggled to match their impressive early rhythm with Toney now anonymous.
Anwar El Ghazi lashed over a rare strike and, even during eight minutes of stoppage time, there was no late drama as Raya claimed Ollie Watkins’ header.
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