REPORT: BRENTFORD 3 ALBION 2
Brentford ended Brighton & Hove Albion’s four game unbeaten run in an enthralling 3-2 encounter at Griffin Park.
The hosts stormed into a two-goal lead within half an hour and despite a response from Gordon Greer before half-time, the Bees extended their lead after the break. Danny Holla gave Albion hope but the Seagulls couldn’t find an equaliser.
Sami Hyypia shuffled his pack making three changes from the side that drew 2-2 with Charlton, with Sam Baldock making his full debut in place of Craig Mackail-Smith up front, while Inigo Calderon and Gary Gardner came in for Bruno and Jake Forster-Caskey.
Following a two-week hiatus due to the international break, the Seagulls looked refreshed and their fast start was almost rewarded when Andrew Crofts, who penned a one-year contract extension with the Seagulls this week, struck a sweet half-volley that came off the inside of the post in the third minute.
Hyypia’s men came close once more as Baldock’s low cross at pace was narrowly missed by Joao Teixeira in the box before some controversy up the other end.
Andre Gray rolled Lewis Dunk just outside the box to go clean thorough on goal, but the forward went down under pressure from the Albion centre-back. Referee Stephen Martin awarded the foul and the home support waited expectantly for a red card, but both Bees players and fans were left incensed when Dunk was only booked.
From the resulting free-kick Ramallo Jota drilled narrowly wide but Brentford were seemingly buoyed by a sense of injustice. However it was Albion who nearly took the lead as Baldock rounded David Button only for James Tarkowski to clear off the line.
The Bees counter-attacked and Moses Odubajo broke the offside trap to put the hosts ahead with a cool finish. Moments later the London side almost extended their lead through Gray but David Stockdale stood firm to save with his body.
In an exciting contest it was the home side who were now on top and just past the half-hour mark Gray met Jake Bidwell’s cross to make it 2-0, to the delight of the majority inside Griffin Park.
But Albion hit back on 40 minutes as Crofts flicked on a corner and Greer, lurking at the back post, fired left footed past Button from close range to bring the Seagulls back into the game.
Greer then thought he had volleyed Albion level in half-time injury-time, but referee Martin disallowed the strike for holding in the area.
The pace of the game didn’t let up after the re-start and the dangerous Odubajo curled wide on 52 minutes; however, two minutes later the head of Jonathan Douglas restored the Bees’ two-goal cushion.
Alan Judge fired over as the hosts looked to kill off the game before Holla’s exquisite finish on 61 minutes, from 25 yards, reduced the deficit back to a single goal.
Albion came close to an equaliser as Joe Bennett dragged wide while Calderon fired over with five minutes to go. Even goalkeeper Stockdale had a go in stoppage time, but unlike the Charlton game, there was to be no late rescue for the Seagulls this time.