Wycombe’s first taste of the highest level of football they have ever faced ended in defeat in Sunday’s Carabao Cup tie at Brentford, but there were many positives to take from a game that hinged on two controversial refereeing decisions.

The fact that Wanderers matched one of the best teams in the Championship over 90 minutes, despite playing almost half the game with only ten men, should give great encouragement to Gareth Ainsworth and his players for the long season ahead.

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Brentford are one of the favourites to win promotion to the Premier League having narrowly missing out last season after finishing third and losing to neighbours Fulham in the Championship play off final.

They needed a penalty shootout and some debatable decisions from referee Charles Breakspear to dispose of a Wycombe outfit that was playing in League Two only a couple of years ago.

Brentford admittedly fielded a weakened line up due to international call ups and the imminent departure of two of their star players, but their squad still included many of the players who took the Championship by storm last season.

Wycombe were also below full strength with Adebayo Akinfenwa and new signing Uche Ikpeazu out injured and in-form Alex Pattison ill.

Ainsworth’s men started on the front foot in bright sunshine at Brentford’s impressive new state-of-the-art stadium.

Most of the early chances fell to the visitors with Alex Samuel, Matt Bloomfield and Josh Parker all going close.

However, it was the home team who took the lead on 32 minutes thanks to a slice of good fortune.

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A harsh decision to penalise Wycombe’s Joe Jacobson for what looked a perfectly fair tackle resulted in Brentford’s giant defender Ethan Pinnock heading home the resulting free kick off the far post, a lead they held at half time.

Worse was to follow for Wycombe in the opening moments of the second half when midfielder Dom Gape was sent off for a committed challenge on Jan Zamburek that was arguably worthy of no more than a yellow card.

Referee Breakspear was quick to brandish red just as he had done in Wycombe’s defeat at Peterborough last season when he awarded the home team a penalty and dismissed Giles Phillips for an offence that hardly anyone else in the ground had seen.

Despite this setback, Wycombe continued to create chances and their disciplined pressing made it difficult for Brentford to play their cultured passing game.

Parker almost levelled the scores with a stinging shot that was saved by Brentford stopper Luke Daniels and although the home side had their moments, they rarely looked like making their extra man count.

With 15 minutes to go, Wycombe got their deserved equaliser thanks to the contribution of two substitutes. New signing Daryl Horgan lashed the ball home from an astute pass by Scott Kashket after Brentford scorer Pinnock had given the ball away.

Wanderers came close to sealing a dramatic comeback victory when another sub, Fred Onyedinma, saw his effort pushed round the post by home ‘keeper Daniels.

So, 1-1 after 90 minutes and straight to a penalty shoot out.

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Jacobson and Horgan scored for Wycombe with their kicks, but Kashket and Nick Freeman missed and Brentford clinched victory with four successful penalties.

Wanderers were knocked out of the competition in similar circumstances by Reading last season.

Ainsworth hates losing, but he will have taken great satisfaction from his team’s display and now the stage is set for the club’s first ever appearance in the Championship when they host Rotherham at Adams Park on Saturday.