Ivan Toney, the hot-shot Brentford striker desperately wanted by Jamaica, was on target ahead to bag his 32nd goal of the season.
The 25-year-old, who was arguably not at his best, slotted home a 16th-minute equaliser from the penalty spot against AFC Bournemouth in their 3-1 victory today (22 May). This win, in the second leg of the Championship play-off semi-final having trailed 1-0 in the first leg, was enough to steer his club past last year’s relegated side to book a final showdown against either Swansea City or Barnsley.
With the play-off final comes the high stakes of winning a play in the English Premier League (EPL), although it seems that Toney is destined for the top tier next season regardless of whether Brentford’s next result. This is because Toney, who had a torrid time today because of uncharacteristic missed chances, is being scouted by a plethora of EPL clubs.
A string of leading teams are keen to secure his signature, which include Arsenal, Brighton & Hove Albion, Everton, Leeds United, Leicester City and West Ham United. Yet he appears to be the ideal replacement for Leicester City veteran and former England star Jamie Vardy, and with a price tag of just £30 million (US$42m) for the Northampton-born ace seems a bargain buy.
However, Toney is untested in the top tier and this season has been his first in the Championship. He notched 26 goals in 39 League One appearances for Peterborough United during the 2019-20 campaign, and has scored a Championship record-breaking 32 strikes this term.
But the English-born forward is currently chewing over whether he is best competing for Jamaica at the FIFA 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar, or opt for an England call-up as he has ambitions to don an England jersey for the showpiece tournament.
Toney’s team battled back from conceding a fifth-minute goal, when Nigerian-born Dutch star Arnaut Danjuma scored from a counter-attack.
Northampton-born ace Toney levelled matters with his spot-kick, after centre back Lloyd Kelly was controversially adjudged by referee Jarred Gillett to have handled Emiliano Marcondes’ cross into the area. AFC Bournemouth defender Chris Mepham brought down winger Bryan Mbeumo, who only had the goalkeeper to beat, and was given his marching orders on 28 minutes.
Yet battling Brentford took another 22 minutes to take advantage of facing just 10 players. They drew level on aggregate early in the second half, courtesy of midfielder Vitaly Janelt’s left-footed effort from outside the box that looped over Bosnia & Herzegovina’s no.1 shotstopper Asmir Begović.
Toney should have increased the margin but his terrific chances that were blocked by Begović and skied over the target respectively.
Brentford left it late to secure the all-important strike, substitute Marcus Forss poking in Marcondes’ cross from close range to complete their comeback with nine minutes remaining and leave Toney just one game away from guaranteed top-flight football next term.
If Toney is scoring goals for fun in the EPL next season, whether with Brentford or a heavyweight side such as Everton or Leicester City, then the striker should be at next year’s World Cup finals with either England or Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz.
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