Thomas Frank revealed that Ivan Toney broke the Championship’s individual season scoring record with minutes to spare in the 3-1 win at Bristol City – a record-equalling 12th away victory of the campaign for Brentford.
Toney opened the scoring with his 31st goal of the season to beat Glenn Murray’s eight-year-old record. The striker picked up a yellow card in the first half, and many assumed that he would play until he scored and then be taken off to save him for the play-off semi-final against Bournemouth.
He was substituted in the 65th minute – eight minutes after his goal – and the Bees boss revealed: “That was a planned substitution, so he was under a little bit of time pressure!
“I don’t understand how Ivan is not the player of the season. That is no disrespect to Emi Buendia, who is a very good player. But Ivan is a fantastic finisher and breaking the record is remarkable.”
Toney’s goal was followed by two more – the third from Sergi Canos and the second by Bryan Mbeumo, a brilliant one which Frank revealed contained 24 passes.
The Bees go into their play-off semi-final against Bournemouth unbeaten in 12 games – and Frank wanted to emphasise what a good season it has been, even though it didn’t end in automatic promotion.
“We have achieved 87 points, which would have taken us up last season, we are the top scorers in the division for the second season in a row, we have the top scorer in the division, we have the fewest defeats together with Norwich, and the second best goal difference,” he said.
“It’s been an unbelievable season, and down to the finest of margins but that is football and elite sport. I want the Bees fans to know how incredible it has been and that is despite selling our two best players.
“The players can have a beer tonight and then rest for three days, before we attack the play-offs with everything we have got. We have belief in us and hope for that little bit of luck.”
The Bees did the double over the Cherries this season, but Frank thinks that makes no difference to their semi-final meeting.
“Every game has its own history,” he said. “Look at the players in that Bournemouth team, look at their strongest starting line-up and how many Premier League games they have played compared to us.”
One important thing on Saturday was for the Bees to avoid injuries and, despite some tough tackles from City players, Frank revealed there was no damage done.
Ethan Pinnock went off at half-time, after picking up a first-half knock, but Frank said: “That was also a planned substitution. He picked up a minor injury at the end of the Rotherham game which is why he didn’t play against Watford. He could have played 90 minutes today, no problem.”
He added: “Rico Henry is in a race against time to be fit for the semis. He is in a good place and the next week of training is crucial.” However, Frank admitted that he hadn’t yet decided whether a return for Henry would mean a switch back to the four-at-the-back formation.