Ivan Toney says he ‘manifested’ his goalscoring return after an eight-month ban for betting offences and was delighted to help Brentford get back to winning ways in their 3-2 victory over Nottingham Forest.
The striker’s return to action did not get off to the best start on Saturday evening, with a stunning, looping volley from Danilo silencing the Community Stadium and giving the visitors the lead in just the third minute.
But it was Toney who kickstarted the Bees’ revival, taking advantage of a poorly constructed wall – and a cheeky shift of the ball when the referee’s back was turned – to send a low, bending free-kick past Matt Turner at his near post.
The relief was clear to see on Toney’s face as he sprinted over to the dugout to celebrate with Thomas Frank and members of Brentford’s coaching staff before holding up a shirt with a tribute to his uncle Brian.
A powerful near-post header from Ben Mee shortly before the hour-mark put Brentford ahead for the first time, though they were pegged back minutes later by a deft header from Chris Wood.
Neal Maupay responded almost immediately, brilliantly flicking up a cross and volleying it past Turner, and that proved to be the winning goal as Brentford managed to see out 10 nervy minutes of stoppage time.
Toney showed little rustiness despite not playing a competitive match for 259 days and says he knew he was going to score against Forest – though he was struggling a little for fitness towards the backend of the match.
Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: ‘It means a lot. A long time coming. I’m here now and I’m just buzzing to be back scoring goals and playing with the team.’
Asked if he had a feeling he would score, he continued: ‘Of course, 100 per cent. Like I’ve said, 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 so it’s good.’
On his free-kick, and his little move of the ball, he said: ‘I practise them every day in training. Everyone banters me when most of them hit the stands or go in the car park!
‘But when it matters I delivered, so it’s good.
‘Yeah [I saw a gap]. I think you have a yard either way so I just moved it and bent it round the corner, so I’m grateful that it went in and grateful to be back playing with the lads.
‘I’ve missed it so much, the fans, everyone. Yeah, I’m back. I’m back.
‘I felt it coming to the 70th minute! I had to get a gel but, listen, I think the adrenaline, hearing the fans screaming, and knowing you’re in a winning position [got me over the line]. There’s no better feeling.
‘We needed [the three points] and we got it. We worked hard today. We’ve been grafting. Even though we’ve been losing, we’ve been grafting, and the boys fully deserved it.
‘And I’m glad for Neal to get the winner because he works hard in training, we’ve got a partnership and I’m sure we’ll score many goals together.’
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