Brentford produced a superb display as a much-altered line-up destroyed Preston to win for the first time in five matches, to keep alive their faint automatic promotion dreams.
Thomas Frank made some bold team changes – bringing in Marcus Forss and Tarique Fosu and switching the formation to 3-4-3 – and it paid off as the Bees sealed their 10th away win of the season to stretch their unbeaten run to six matches.
Fosu was involved in two of the goals – setting up Mads Roerslev to cross for Bryan Mbeumo to sweep home the first, and then crossing for Ivan Toney to head in the third. Roerslev also created the second for Forss, while Toney made the fourth for Sergi Canos, before Emiliano Marcondes scored the fifth.
After a steady first half in which they went 2-0 up, Brentford were superb in the second and David Raya did not have a save to make as the Bees stayed third in the table, still nine points behind Watford with a game in hand.
The Bees lined up with Pontus Jansson, Christian Norgaard and Ethan Pinnock as three central defenders, with Roerslev and Mbeumo playing as wing-backs in a four-man midfield.
And it took only nine minutes for the new-look Brentford side to go ahead. A ball from Fosu inside his own half set Roerslev away and he crossed for Mbeumo to sweep home his fifth goal of the season and only his second of 2021.
Roerslev then cleared a shot from Brad Potts from just in front of the goalline, before at the other end he first-time collected Mathias Jensen’s pass and centred for Forss to score his first goal since December.
Brentford dominated the second half and it seemed only a matter of time before they scored the third. It arrived when Fosu twisted his way into the area and lifted the ball across to Toney to head home from close range for his 29th goal of the season.
The Bees then made a flurry of substitutions and one of them – Canos – hit the fourth after Toney played the ball across the six-yard box straight to him, for his eighth goal of the season
Daniel Iversen then denied Toney from close range before Marcondes scored his first Championship goal of the season from a tight angle after good work by Norgaard and Canos.
This was Brentford back to their early-season best and sets them up for an exciting end to the campaign.
Brentford: Raya, Jansson, Norgaard, Pinnock, Roerslev (Stevens 87), Janelt (Bidstrup 83), Jensen (Marcondes 83), Mbeumo, Fosu (Reid 79), Forss (Canos 79), Toney.