Brentford were beaten for the first time in their pre-season programme, losing to West Ham United. The Bees had won three and drawn one of their friendly matches before their first match on home soil but lost 1-0 to the East London side. Former Brentford attacker Saïd Benrahma scored the only goal of the game, curling home from distance in the second half.
It was a well-contested game that was settled by an excellent goal. Brentford had the upper hand for long periods and hit the post through Shandon Baptiste. But they could not find their way through, and West Ham took the win.
The visitors probably had slightly the better of the opening exchanges, but it was a first half of few chances and neither goalkeeper was overly tested. The first period was played more in Brentford territory, but The Bees were able to play on the counter-attack and got players up the pitch quickly. Wing backs Mads Roerslev and Rico Henry joined in the attack often, without being able to find a way through.
West Ham had control of the centre of the pitch with Vitaly Janelt and Frank Onyeka working hard to get Brentford the ball to go forward. Pablo Fornals, playing just behind Michail Antonio for West Ham, had a shot deflect wide and then saw another bounce in to the arms of Patrik Gunnarsson. The visitors looked to their left to Benrahma as often as they could, but Brentford largely dealt with their former team mate. Benrahma did find space 12 minutes in, but bent a shot wide.
West Ham had the ball in the net just past the half hour through Antonio, but the goal was ruled out for a handball earlier in the move by Benrahma. Brentford will have breathed a sigh of relief as they had not defended a ball in to the box well. Gunnarsson also saved from Ben Johnson later in the half as the visitors looked for a goal.
Brentford’s best chances came on the counter-attack. When Janelt won the ball high up the pitch, he crossed for Sergi Canós, and Marcus Forss was found inside the penalty area. But Craig Dawson came across to make a tackle, albeit his clearance looped just past his own post.
Canós forced Łukasz Fabiański in to a low save after a good run by Halil Dervişoğlu had given Roerslev space to cross. Onyeka then went on a mazy run up the pitch that looked set to lead to a shot, but he was crowded out by Manuel Lanzini and referee Darren England decided no foul had been committed. Onyeka had run half the length of the pitch and driven deep in to West Ham territory, but was unable to find a final shot or pass.
The game had got more even as the first half wore on and Brentford took the initiative after the restart. The hosts made five changes at the break and seemed to bring their front three a little narrower. That stopped West Ham building any forward momentum through the centre of the pitch and gave more room for Brentford’s wing backs, particularly Dominic Thompson on the left.
Dervişoğlu and Forss combined early in the second half on the edge of the West Ham penalty area. Forss drove in to space on the right side, but his cross-cum-shot was cleared. Forss had another shot blocked and Dervişoğlu curled wide before a pair of corners caused problems for West Ham. Fabiański punched cleared when Ethan Pinnock looped a header in. When Janelt delivered a flatter cross soon after, Pinnock again headed back and Fabiański flew out from his goal to punch clear. Thompson met a Roerslev cross on the volley soon after, but the ball hit a defender and flew away.
Brentford had taken control of the contest early in the second half, but it was West Ham that scored what proved to be the only goal, just past the hour mark. A Pinnock pass was intercepted and the ball broke to Benrahma, he turned in to space and curled a shot past David Raya and in to the top corner from 25 yards. The shot was unstoppable and came to be the defining moment of the match.
West Ham had a couple of efforts just before – Antonio smashing well wide and Conor Coventry firing off target after driving in to the penalty area – but the goal was against the balance of second half play. The visitors did almost score again when Coventry met a Fornals cross, but Raya tipped it over the bar. And it was Brentford that then took the upper hand.
The Bees came within a whisker of equalising when Baptiste ran from deep and let fly with a shot from 25 yards that left Fabiański stationary and smashed away off the post. And Baptiste was not done yet. He picked up the ball 40 yards out and strode on, beating three mean and weaving in to the penalty area, unfortunately, at the point he could have shot, he stumbled, and the ball ran away. Thompson got to it and delivered a cross that was met by Bryan Mbeumo, but Fabiański saved his header low down.
Mbeumo was crowded out as he tried to get on to an Ivan Toney pass inside the penalty area. Toney got on to the loose ball, but his shot deflected in to the arms of Fabiański. Benrahma set up Antonio to shoot wide but there was little goal mouth action in the later stages. Brentford were on the front foot but failed to trouble Fabiański.
It took a fine tackle from Pinnock as Antonio looked to weave through and at the other end Tariqe Fosu had a shot blocked. He then tried to work a shooting chance but was prevented from getting an effort away. That was the last action of the afternoon as West Ham left with the win.
Brentford: Gunnarsson (sub Raya h/t); Goode (sub Jansson h/t), Sørensen (sub Nørgaard 61 mins), Pinnock; Roerslev (sub Stevens 80 mins), Onyeka (sub Baptiste h/t), Janelt (sub Toney 61 mins), Henry (sub Thompson h/t); Canós (sub Ghoddos h/t), Forss (sub Fosu 73 mins), Dervişoğlu (sub Mbeumo 61 mins)
West Ham United: Fabiański; Fredericks, Dawson, Diop, Cresswell; Johnson (sub Noble h/t), Coventry, Lanzini (sub Alves 68 mins), Benrahma; Fornals; Antonio