A goal apiece from halftime substitutes Lee Gregory and Louie Sibley brought about a superb second-half comeback after Derby County had trailed to early goals from Ivan Toney and Sergi Canos.
Derby boss Wayne Rooney announced four changes from the side that started in Saturday’s defeat to Millwall. Andre Wisdom returned to the side with the captain’s armband, while 19-year-old Louie Watson was handed his full Rams debut. Youngsters Max Bird and Lee Buchanan also came into the side.
Just two changes were made to Brentford’s line-up as Ghanaian Tariqe Fosu was replaced by Sergi Canos, while Swedish centre-back Pontus Jansson returned from a lengthy injury and took the place of Ethan Pinnock. Fosu and Pinnock were relegated to the bench.
Story of the match
Initial exchanges appeared to suggest an even tie as both sides enjoyed good spells with the ball. Debutant Watson looked ready to compete from the first whistle and he settled his nerves with some early touches.
Just eight minutes in, promotion-chasing Brentford pushed their noses in front when birthday boy Toney converted a penalty. It was a poor one to concede from County’s perspective, as a cheap loss of possession from Wisdom allowed Bryan Mbuemo to pick storm into the box. Buchanan came across and brought the 21-year-old to the ground, leaving referee David Webb with no option but to point to the spot. Toney stepped up and coolly slotted his 27th goal of the season into the bottom-right corner.
The Bees hit the ground running and could have doubled their advantage 10 minutes later. Mathias Jensen laid a beautiful square delivery for Mbuemo, who had broken free of his man on the right-hand side of the penalty area. Frenchman Mbuemo snatched at the chance and dragged his shot just wide of Kelle Roos’ near post.
Canos added a second soon after. The Spaniard picked up the ball wide on the left as the visitors formed a rapid counterattack and cut inwards before drilling his effort neatly into the bottom corner, underneath the outstretched body of Roos.
Derby were well under the cosh and struggled as the break neared. The Rams looked disorganised at the back, while their misfiring strikers were hardly afforded a sight of goal down the other end.
Rooney made three changes at halftime and they had paid off within two minutes as Gregory tapped into an empty net after Nathan Byrne hooked a delightful ball across the face of goal. Goalkeeper David Raya was left stranded as the hosts found the net for the first time in five matches.
Seemingly from nowhere, Derby exploded into life as they sniffed a chance of a point. Their forward play was far more positive than that of the first period, and it almost brought them level on the hour mark as Gregory forced a great reaction stop out of Raya to keep the Bees ahead.
Brentford woke up eventually and proceedings evened out as the hosts plateaued. Derby’s forward threat took a blow 10 minutes from time when Colin Kazim-Richards was forced to make way for Tom Lawrence after being unable to continue through injury.
Derby completed the comeback with four minutes still to play as halftime substitute Sibley curled home a sensational strike from range. The 19-year-old picked up the ball on the edge of the box and sent a sumptuous effort into the top-left corner, leaving Raya with no chance.
Takeaway from the match
Brentford were on top for much of the game but failed to see out the victory. They looked strong in attack but were not clinical in front of goal, which only seemed to frustrate the Londoners. Derby broke through on several occasions because of sleepy defending and capitalised on this twice to rescue a point.
Man of the match
Toney played an excellent game up front. The birthday boy struck early in the first half to give his side the lead and was a catalyst for attacking threat with a great showing of passing and movement.