“Big dog’s back,” said Ivan Toney before his return from an eight-month ban. And the Brentford striker proved he hasn’t lost any bite with a goal in their 3-2 win over relegation rivals Nottingham Forest.
It was a thrilling game with Toney making it 1-1 after Danilo’s early opener for Forest. Ben Mee put the Bees ahead with Chris Wood equalising, only for Neal Maupay to score Brentford’s winner.
But Toney’s goal from a free-kick was highly controversial. The 27-year-old moved the ball twice while Forest were setting their wall before bending the ball in the little gap between the wall and the right post.
He even moved some of the foam from the referee’s spray.
But his main focus after his side’s win was enjoying being back from a long ban for breaching Football Association gambling rules.
“It was a long time coming,” Toney told Sky Sports. “I manifested this win when I was at home during the time I was out, I am here now and buzzing to be back scoring goals and winning with the team.
“I 100% knew this would happen again. I manifest things like this. Before the game, before I left my house, I thought, ‘We’re winning today and I’m scoring.’ And I made it happen, which is good.”
The win took Brentford up to 14th, two places and two points above Forest.
What was the beef with Toney’s goal?
Forest captain Ryan Yates, on the end of the wall, turned round and gestured to goalkeeper Matt Turner that there was space for Toney to bend the ball round.
But as this was going on Toney moved the ball across slightly towards that space. He then moved it a second time and, this time, even moved some of the foam that shows where the free-kick should be taken to the new position of the ball.
He then found the gap that Yates had been worried about.
“You can move it half a yard either side,” Toney told BBC Sport afterwards. “If I’d missed nobody would really question it, but the fact it’s gone in everyone wants to make a noise. But it’s gone in the back of the net and we’ve won the game.”
Ex-England striker Alan Shearer told BBC Match of the Day: “He was integral to everything. He is back and Brentford will be a lot more comfortable with him in the team. As a player you are always trying to gain that advantage and he has done that there.”
Former Sheffield United midfielder Michael Brown was watching the game for BBC Radio 5 Live and wondered why no Forest players flagged it to the officials.
“All that situation needs is for someone to tell the referee, ‘Listen I think they moved the ball’,” Brown said.
“The amount of cameras and eyes on any situation, it is easy to sort. The ref is trying to sort everything, he’s got three or four people in his ear, and it is a key moment.
“If I’m in that wall, I am telling the referee he’s moved the ball. I’m not watching Toney move the ball and standing not saying anything, I’m making sure it is moved back.”
Former Wales defender Ashley Williams added on Match of the Day: Forest fans will be unhappy. The ball is placed, he moves it a little bit, then moves the foam. What bothers me is not one Forest player complains to the referee as it is happening.
“It is a good goal but that is just a poor piece of defending. We see people steal yards on the throw ins and I would have expected Nottingham Forest to have made the referee aware of it.”
Forest boss Nuno Espirito Santo was not pleased at full-time.
“It is ball displacement so VAR should intervene,” he told BBC Match of the Day. “Every action that leads to a goal, VAR checks, and that situation led to a goal.”
Bees boss Thomas Frank had a different view, well no view.
“To be fair I didn’t see that, I don’t know about it,” he said. “I don’t know what to say to that. It’s a goal and it stands.
“He is a clever player. If you can’t do it, it is not good but it is in the back of the net.”