AFC Bournemouth 1-0 Brentford: Danjuma strikes to give Cherries advantage
Photo by Robin Jones - AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images

Arnaut Danjuma sent the crowd inside the Vitality Stadium wild after his goal gave Bournemouth the edge in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi final against Brentford.

The Dutchman’s strike early in the second half proved the difference and gives the Cherries a deserved lead ahead of the second leg this weekend.

For Brentford, though, they will need to improve a lot in the final third if they are to turn the tie around, with the prolific Ivan Toney largely kept quiet by the home defence.

Team news

Brentford named the same team that beat Bristol City on the final day of the regular campaign, whilst Bournemouth also went unchanged despite slumping to defeat against Stoke last time out.

Playing in front of a crowd for the first time in Jonathan Woodgate’s tenure, the Cherries had the first real shot of note which came via Jefferson Lerma, who volleyed Lloyd Kelly’s cleared cross back in from twenty yards, but the ball fizzed just over the bar.

Cherries on top

And the Cherries had an even better chance after 12 minutes. David Brooks released Adam Smith down the right hand side and he cut the ball across to Philip Billing, but he skewed his effort off target when well-placed twelve yards out.

Kelly was then teed up by Billing on the left and his first-time ball in picked out Dominic Solanke, who got in front of his marker but only to see his header turned around the post by David Raya.

For all their possession, Brentford didn’t really trouble Asmir Begovic inside the first 35 minutes – the closest they got being Tariqe Fosu’s effort which deflected just over the top off of the head of Cameron Carter-Vickers.

And the hosts almost broke the deadlock five minutes before half time. Danjuma’s corner picked out the head of Steve Cook, who saw his low header well kept out by Raya before Toney did well to block Brooks’ follow-up which looked bound for the back of the net.

Bournemouth continued to press early in the second half, but it was Brentford who went close when Marcus Forss’ cross was headed down by Ethan Pinnock but Christian Norgaard’s audacious overhead kick went over the bar.

Danjuma strikes

But after a great debut campaign at the Vitality Stadium, who else was to break the deadlock but the impressive Danjuma. Bournemouth won the ball in their own half and broke sharply. Solanke found Brooks in space on the right, and he drove at Pinnock before slipping in Danjuma and one on one with Raya he slotted past the Brentford keeper after 55 minutes.

Thomas Frank reacted with a triple change in a bid to change the game, with Bryan Mbeumo, Rico Henry and Emiliano Marcondes all coming on, and Mbeumo almost had an immediate impact as he teed up Mathias Jensen but he could only fire into the side netting from a tight angle.

Having gone in front, the Cherries seemed to sit back a bit more and allow Brentford more time on the ball, and the Bees almost drew level when Mbuemo slipped through fellow sub Marcondes, but Begovic was out well to save after a neat passing move.

After Cook hobbled off injured in first half stoppage time, Woodgate’s side were dealt a further blow after 72 minutes when Ben Pearson was forced off having picked up a knock.

Brentford chance

Mbeumo then spurred a great chance to draw Brentford level when Norgaard dragged his shot from the edge of the box, but only into the path of the substitute but on the stretch he couldn’t hit the target with Begovic scrambling.

But for all their pressure, they couldn’t break through - and Danjuma almost doubled his and Bournemouth’s tally with six minutes to go. After Smith won a free kick on the edge of the area, the Cherries’ playmaker saw his effort pushed around the post by the diving Raya.

Danjuma was again in the thick of things moments later as he led a counter attack and found Solanke, but the striker’s low effort from 18 yards took a deflection and went straight at Raya.

Brentford huffed and puffed, but ultimately came up short, and they have it all to do if their play-off hoodoo is to end in the second leg on Saturday.