Five-star Brentford return to winning ways

Brentford kept their faint automatic promotion hopes alive with a thumping 5-0 victory at Preston.

The Bees scored twice in the first half and three times in the second to end a run of four straight Championship draws in emphatic style.

Their biggest away win of the season moved Thomas Frank’s side to within nine points of second-placed Watford, with six games still to play.

Preston, meanwhile, slid to their first defeat in three games since interim boss Frankie McAvoy took over from Alex Neil.

Image: Bryan Mbeumo celebrates Brentford’s opener

Frank’s visitors threatened first, with Ethan Pinnock heading over the top as he rose to meet Bryan Mbeumo’s clipped free-kick.

The Bees then raced into the lead in the ninth minute.

An incisive move down the right culminated with Mads Roerslev whipping a cross in for Mbeumo, who clinically side-footed his fifth goal of the season past Daniel Iversen from eight yards.

That was a blow for Preston, but they soon rallied and midfielder Brad Potts cracked a volley from the edge of the box that fizzed narrowly wide.

The Bees struck for a second time through Finnish frontman Marcus Forss, who finished off another Roerslev cross, comfortably crashing his ninth of the season past a flat-footed Iversen.

Brentford were now in cruise control and next to go close was midfielder Mathias Jensen, who trotted calmly towards goal before hammering a shot from 25 yards a couple of feet wide.

The theme continued at the beginning of the second period, with the Bees bossing the contest.

Mbeumo saw a deflected strike fizz over Iversen and behind, then the Preston keeper brilliantly tipped a piledriver from Tarique Fosu over the crossbar.

On the hour mark, the buoyant Bees almost notched what would have been quite a special goal.

German ace Vitaly Janelt somehow managed to drag a shot wide after playing the most perfectly-weighted one-two with Fosu.

Iversen was then called upon to make another competent stop from Fosu as the visitors threatened to extend their advantage.

By the game’s three-quarter point, it was all Brentford and there appeared no way back for McAvoy’s hosts, with 28-goal Ivan Toney the next to sting Iversen’s palms with a thumping angled strike.

The victory was sealed by that man Toney with 15 minutes left as Fosu hung up a cross to the far post where the prolific striker nonchalantly nodded goal number 29 of the campaign past Iversen from a couple of yards out.

Toney then turned provider for substitute Sergi Canos to make it four from close range in the 82nd minute.

Fellow sub Emiliano Marcondes’ calm finish from a tight angle in added time wrapped up a dream day for the Bees.