Brentford’s five match unbeaten run came to an end against Luton Town. The Bees conceded two first half goals from set pieces and could not find a way back. Ollie Watkins scored late on but The Bees were unable to find another goal and Luton took the points.
And while Brentford certainly had the better chances over the course of the game, Luton will probably feel they did enough to win. They scored in the early stages and then at the end of the first half, keeping Brentford at bay in between. And while Watkins got his 22nd of the season in the later stages, The Bees did not create enough in the second period to earn a share of the spoils.
Brentford started the game positively and went on the attack from the first whistle. They had much the better of the first 15 minutes of the contest but found themselves a goal down as Luton scored from their only early attack. The home side delivered a free kick from the inside right channel that flew across the box, bounced awkwardly, hit Shandon Baptiste, beat David Raya and nestled in the net.
The goal was very much against the run of early play as Brentford pushed Luton back. The Bees started the game with Christian Nørgaard at the centre of a back three and he took the opportunity to move in to midfield when he could. With Rico Henry and Mads Roerslev holding very wide positions, Saïd Benrahma and Bryan Mbeumo were able to get involved in the game in central areas and The Bees had early chances.
Benrahma hit the wall with a free kick from 25 yards before Mbeumo created space for a cross and Henry arrived to head just wide. Those chances came before Luton’s goal and they continued to be created after it. Nørgaard, Josh Dasilva and Benrahma created space for Watkins to shoot but he fired straight at Simon Sluga. And there was a better chance soon after when Roerslev picked out Benrahma with a cross, he took a touch and fired in a shot that Sluga saved high to his right.
Nørgaard had a header blocked and Henrik Dalsgaard lashed well over from distance, but Luton were beginning to come in to the game. They were packing the centre of the pitch and stopping Brentford moving the ball wide. They stopped Baptiste and Dasilva getting involved in the middle of the pitch and it wasn’t long before Nørgaard to moved forward to supplement the Brentford midfield as the visitors reverted to a 4-3-3 system.
But Luton were creating chances to double their lead. Harry Cornick shot over at the near post and James Collins blasted wide after Nørgaard lost the ball deep in his own half. A Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu cross also caused some difficulty for The Bees as it flew across the six-yard box.
After Brentford’s formation change, they took control of the game again. Dasilva was finding space to play in and the ball was mostly in Luton territory. Benrahma was just unable to turn home a Mbeumo cross at the far post and Sluga made a fine low save from Dasilva, pushing the ball away from the arriving Watkins, who could not force it home. Nørgaard lashed a bouncing ball over and then fired narrowly wide from 18 yards after being set up by Dasilva, Benrahma and Henry.
As half time approached, Brentford were behind but had the momentum. They were then hit by another sucker punch. Luke Berry delivered another free kick in to the penalty area, Raya came and appeared to be barged as he tried to punch the ball clear. Referee Darren England – who allowed the hosts to take time out of the game throughout the first half – decided no foul had been committed and the ball bounced down for Martin Cranie to lash a shot past the Brentford defenders and in to the net. Raya protested but Mr England gave the goal and Brentford had a mountain to climb.
With Brentford needing two goals to get anything from the game, they looked to press forward at the start of the second half. The Bees had lots of the ball in Luton territory but were unable to create any really good openings. A weak Mbeumo header, comfortably saved by Sluga, was all they could muster in the early stages of the second half.
Luton, with a two-goal lead to defend, were content to play on the counter-attack. They allowed Brentford to have the ball in areas that did not threaten and looked to get men forward quickly when they won possession, as well as using their set pieces. Berry saw a shot deflect over when the ball dropped on the edge of the penalty area. And when Berry delivered a free kick soon after, it caused chaos in the Brentford defence, Cornick had a shot blocked and the visitors eventually scrambled the ball away.
The game became more stretched as the second half developed. Brentford made a series of attacking substitutions and put more and more men in to forward areas while Luton looked to break quickly when they could. Mpanzu was set up by Collins for a shot that was blocked while Watkins saw a pair of efforts hit home defenders in quick succession after creating space for himself in the penalty area.
A Dasilva shot deflected wide after he worked an opening and Watkins was unable to covert a Roerslev cross as Brentford pressed. But it was more perspiration than inspiration for The Bees, who were struggling to create really good chances. Sluga saved from Benrahma and Watkins met a Dasilva cross at the near post, but the effort was blocked and then gathered by the Luton goalkeeper.
Raya made a fine low save when Cornick burst in to the penalty area on the right-hand side and Ryan Tunnicliffe then pulled a shot wide. Cameron Carter-Vickers could have made it three for the home side when he met another good Berry delivery, but he headed straight at Raya. And it was starting to look like Brentford were running out of time. A burst from Watkins in to the penalty area enabled Benrahma to set up Dasilva, but his shot deflected wide.
Just when it looked as if there would be nothing for The Bees, they found a goal. Watkins created space and spread the ball wide to Roerslev on the right, he then held back for the ball in to the box and slotted it low past Sluga and in to the net. Watkins’ movement caught Luton out and Brentford had a lifeline.
With around ten minutes to play – albeit Luton were allowed by Mr England to continually waste time meaning that the ball spent nowhere near that long on the pitch – Brentford sensed they could snatch a point. And they had chances. Sluga saved a looping Roerslev effort and Benrahma curled a shot inches wide from 18 yards. There was a great late chance for Pinnock, who met an Emiliano Marcondes corner with a powerful header from ten yards. But Luton got bodies in the way, cleared the ball and took the win.
Luton Town: Sluga; Cranie, Carter-Vickers, Pearson, Potts; Rea; Cornick (sub Hylton 88 mins), Berry, Mpanzu, Tunnicliffe; Collins
Subs (not used): Stech, McManaman, Shinnie, Moncur, Bolton, Bree
Bookings: Rea (27 mins), Potts (90 mins)
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Nørgaard (sub Marcondes 63 mins), Pinnock; Roerslev, Dasilva, Baptiste (sub Valencia 71 mins), Henry; Mbeumo (sub Fosu 63 mins), Watkins, Benrahma
Subs (not used): Daniels, Racic, Žambůrek, Dervişoğlu
Bookings: Nørgaard (25 mins) (seventh of season), Marcondes (90 mins)
Attendance: 10,008 (1,032 Bees fans)
Don't miss out on a piece of Brentford history.