On Tuesday 4th August, Fulham and Brentford met in the Championship play-off final to end their 2019/2020 campaigns. This match is on record as the most expensive in world football, as Fulham would receive an estimated £170 million and additionally a potential few hundred million more if they can maintain their Premier League status over the next 5 years.
The first 90 minutes of play was close and entertaining, filled with end-to-end football and both teams creating ample chances but not risking any defensive errors. But alas no goal was scored, and the game went into extra time.
The deadlock was broken in the 105th minute as Fulham’s English left back Joe Bryan rose to the occasion and became their hero. He scored a 40-yard freekick, catching Brentford’s goalkeeper, David Raya who was expecting a cross, off his line and left clawing at the scraps.
Bryan doubled the lead from a Mitrovic assist in the 117th minute, leaving Brentford collective head in their hands. The Bees did score in the 120th+5 from a Dalsgaard header, but unfortunately it was too late for a comeback as the whistle blew only a minute later.
Scott Parker’s Fulham were touted for promotion at the start of the season, after having been relegated from the Premier League only the season just before. Parker said after the game, “I see a group of players who only a year ago were struggling psychologically”. Parker went on and motivated the squad throughout the season and are now reaping the benefits.
Brentford were unfortunate to not gain promotion this year after having been arguably the best side in the Championship this season. Brentford will be asking where it went wrong for them, having only needed 4 points from their last 2 games to go up but lost both to Stoke and Barnsley. The future looks bright for some of their star players Saïd Benrahma, Oliver Watkins and Bryan Mbuemo who be in hot demand from Premier League teams, thanks to the trio scoring 59 goals together this season. Chelsea and West Ham are the favourites to sign Algerian winger Benrahma.
Scott Parker and Fulham will now look to freshen up and strengthen their side for the next Premier League campaign starting just over a month from now on the 12th September. With less than 6 weeks, Parker will be tested with his new challenge and Fulham will begin their top-flight survival goal.
Written by Hugo Galea