Brentford need ‘big man’ Toney to step up again to cap record season

Cherries boss Jonathan Woodgate had been bullish in his belief that 15-goal Solanke was the better player, bizarrely claiming that if the 23-year-old had taken all of Bournemouth’s penalties (three) he would have scored just as many league goals as Toney, whose Championship record tally of 31 included nine spot-kicks. Thomas Frank, wisely, pointed to the numbers in defence of his man.

In the end, neither talisman set the Vitality alight. Toney was starved of service and well-marshalled by the hosts’ backline, while Solanke grazed the outside of the post with his only half-chance of note and fluffed his lines when wasting a glorious opening on the counter-attack with a poor pass.

Trailing 1-0, though, it is the Bees who most need theirs to deliver when the two sides meet for the second-leg at the Brentford Community Stadium tomorrow.

The third in a succession of lethal forwards, Toney has spoken of wanting to go a step further than Neal Maupay and Ollie Watkins before him in being the man to finally drag Brentford into the Premier League. Speaking to Standard Sport last month, the 25-year-old joked that if he had a pound for every time he’d been compared to predecessor Watkins he could buy half of London.

Well, to throw another quid in the pot, it is worth recalling that it was Watkins’ strike just 11 minutes into last season’s semi-final second-leg against Swansea that proved the catalyst for a comeback which sent the Bees to Wembley, after they had also lost the first-leg 1-0 away from home.

“Speaking about Ivan, of course, you need your big players to perform in these moments, in these games,” Frank said on Friday. “I’m not in doubt that he’ll be there, but you never know. He wants to be there, he wants to be the person, the player, the big man that’s there in the crucial moments.

“I said after the game [on Monday] that we need everyone to hit seven or eight-out-of-ten and one or two to be bang up there with that decisive moment or action.”

Action Images via Reuters

Of course, Toney will need help, or certainly more than he got on Monday evening. Marcus Forss was largely ineffectual alongside the former Peterborough man and Frank will surely be tempted to hand Bryan Mbuemo – who finished the season with four goals in seven games – a start, despite the glaring late miss that means the Bees go into this game behind instead of level.

A shift in formation, from a back-three to 4-3-3, could help, too, should Frank decide outstanding full-back Rico Henry is fit to start after his first-leg cameo. The Dane admitted he was “extremely tempted” to throw both Henry and right-back Henrik Dalsgaard in from the off, but had a decision to make, wary of the possibility of extra-time being required to separate the sides.

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