Brentford forward Ollie Watkins and Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic proved matchwinners in Saturday’s 3pm kick-offs – boosting their promotion push with narrow wins over Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers respectively.
Watkins’ sweeping strike in the 87th minute proved pivotal as Brentford fought hard to retain their lead – having lost it twice – sending supporters home happy with their 3-2 win over a spirited Middlesbrough display.
Two goals in five second-half minutes, courtesy of Lewis Wing and Ashley Fletcher, saw Jonathan Woodgate’s side fight back from behind – sandwiched between Bryan Mbeumo’s strike on the hour mark.
Said Benrahma came close but fired over the bar at the end of an intricate move but it was Watkins, isolated by Boro’s deadline day signing Harold Moukoudi, who stunned the visitors late on.
The 24-year-old wheeled away to celebrate, gesturing the ’20’ as he raced away in both relief and jubilation. He’s now got 60 goal contributions in 124 appearances for Brentford – again proving his worth as a dependable forward who has improved his finishing and decision-making, having initially featured from the flanks at Griffin Park.
Neal Maupay’s departure for Brighton last summer freed up a centre-forward role and he has flourished in a more advanced role since. His performances will not have gone unnoticed by rival clubs either.
He joined for £1.8m from Exeter in July 2017 and has been dreaming of the Premier League since, though still has three-and-a-half years left on his existing deal – with an option for a further year. The Bees will hope he can fufill his lofty aspirations with them.
So, how does the Championship table look now?
After this latest win, Brentford sit fifth in the Championship on 53 points. League leaders West Brom are three points ahead with a game in hand over the teams below them.
One of those sides is their west London rivals Fulham, who sit third on 55. They were 1-0 winners over Blackburn at Ewood Park, courtesy of Mitrovic’s composed close-range finish after being teed up by an overlapping Joe Bryan down the flank.
Scott Parker’s men are unbeaten in their last five matches and 25-year-old Mitrovic, who was widely expected to depart after relegation last term, has returned with goals in successive games after missing their last three (all comps) with an ankle injury.
Elsewhere, Nottingham Forest host second-placed Leeds United in the day’s evening kick-off – hoping to close the gap on the top two even further.