Brentford picked up a third straight away win and extended their unbeaten run to 11 games with a 3-1 win at The City Ground against Nottingham Forest. Henrik Dalsgaard headed The Bees in front in a first half where they were much the better side. There were difficult moments for Brentford after the break and Forest had a goal disallowed before Josh Dasilva came off the substitute’s bench to double the lead. Ivan Toney got his customary goal and stoppage time saw a Forest goal and a red card before The Bees secured the points, adding to recent away wins at Barnsley and Rotherham United.
It was a win that was hard earned but also hard to dispute. The Bees could have been more than a goal ahead at half time and they defended well to see off Forest’s second half pressure. Once the second goal came the third swiftly followed and the game was done. A Joe Worrall header in stoppage time was no more than consolation for the home side.
Brentford dictated the pace of the game early on. The Bees scored inside the first 15 minutes and took control of the contest for most of the rest of the first half. All the openings in the first half hour were created by The Bees, who dominated the centre of the field and pulled Forest all over the pitch. They had a solid defensive base and attacked from both flanks, with Vitaly Janelt patrolling in front of the back four and dictating the shape of the game.
Brentford’s early goal came from a set piece. Mathias Jensen delivered an in-swinging corner from the left, Dalsgaard made a run that took him in front of the defence and then flicked a header in to the far corner. Dalsgaard’s movement created the space and his header was placed perfectly over Bryce Samba and in to the net.
The goal was one of a series of good chances Brentford created in the first half hour. They could have been ahead before the goal when Jensen started a four-on-two break from a Forest free kick. He picked out Toney in the inside left channel, he took a touch and let fly with a shot but blasted it in to the side netting with options for a pass square of him.
It took a good save from Samba to keep it at 1-0 soon after Dalsgaard’s goal. Tariqe Fosu wriggled free on the edge of the Forest penalty area and his cross was cleared as far as Bryan Mbeumo. The shot was low and true from 20 yards and was heading in to the bottom corner before Samba got down well to push it away. Mbeumo’s corner was met by Toney at the near post but blocked by a defender.
Toney shot wide when he went for goal ambitiously from 45 yards but a volleyed effort from the same man soon after, when he met a cross from Emiliano Marcondes, whistled just over the crossbar. Forest had offered nothing in the first half hour of the match. They tried to get their midfield high up the pitch to support lone striker Lyle Taylor but were unable to stop Brentford playing through them. Janelt and Jensen were able to get on to the ball from David Raya or the defenders in front of him and Marcondes was always available as the next pass.
The hosts did, however, up their intensity in the later stages of the half. They were helped by the increasingly stop-start nature of the contest with referee Geoff Eltringham whistling more and more as the half wore on. One free kick was lifted over the top from 22 yards by Joe Lolley and another was cleared as far as Taylor on the left side of the penalty area and he lashed wide.
Forest’s best chance of the first half came when Sammy Ameobi burst in to some space in the inside left channel and let fly with a fierce shot that was well saved by Raya, especially as it looked like it took a deflection on the way through. The follow-up from Harry Arter lacked power and Raya gathered. Although they ended the half well, the hosts were behind and made a double change at the interval. They had more men in attacking areas at the start of the half and spent more time in Brentford territory as they pressed for an equaliser.
The home side had the better of the start of the second period. They changed the shape of their midfield with Cafu dropping deeper to support Ryan Yates. That gave more of a platform for their attacking player to influence the game and they pressed forward. That also opened up the game and there were spells before the hour mark that were end-to end.
Raya saved a low free kick from Taylor before Ameobi got free in the left and in to the penalty area thanks to a lucky ricochet. His cut back looked perfect but neither Taylor nor Anthony Knockaert was able to convert. A Marcondes pass released Rico Henry at the other end, his cross found Fosu and his shot, after a clever turn, looked set for the bottom corner before Samba pushed it away. The resulting corner was half cleared, Ethan Pinnock headed down and Toney was crowded out as he prepared to shoot. Forest then went straight down the other end and Taylor got away a shot that Raya saved low.
Forest thought they had levelled on the hour when Knockaert had the ball in the net. The goal came after a move on the Forest right, a cross came in and Knockaert shot from 18 yards, it beat Raya and nestled in the net. But, after consultation between the officials, the flag went up for offside as Taylor was standing in front of Raya and preventing him getting a good sight of the action.
Taylor had a shot blocked soon after as Forest continued to put The Bees under pressure and a fierce effort from Yates was blocked by Mads Bech Sørensen soon after. Raya held on to a looping header from Ameobi and then made a better stop to tip a rising drive from Knockaert over the crossbar. Mr Eltringham was then given a decision to make when Taylor went down under pressure from Sørensen when he appeared to be able to shoot from the right side of the penalty area. The appeals were waved away.
Brentford had made a double change midway through the second half with Sergi Canós and Dasilva introduced. This gave The Bees extra energy off the ball and more pace on the counter attack. Canós could have scored when he turned well on the left side and got off a shot that Samba saved. The next time Canós got the ball at his feet, he set up the second goal.
Mbeumo played a crucial role in the goal, intercepting a pass from Miguel Guerrero in the centre of the pitch and spreading the play to the left. Canós attacked and spotted Dasilva on the right edge of the penalty area. Forest must have known that Dasilva would take a touch, create a yard and bend the ball in to the corner of the net. If they did, they did not do enough to stop it, the shot bending out of the reach of Samba and in to the far corner.
Two became three five minutes later. Janelt played a long ball forward that confused the Forest defence. Tobias Figueiredo watched as the ball arced over his head and Samba stayed on his line. Toney got to the dropping ball and knocked it past Samba first time and in to the net to take his personal tally to 15 for the season and secure the win.
That came with two minutes to go but there was still time for plenty to happen. Forest got a goal back when a free kick was played long in to the penalty area and Worrall rose to head down, the ball bounced past Raya and in to the net. That gave Forest no more than a sliver of hope, but they still had three or four minutes to chase the game.
In the final of those minutes Knockaert found space on the left and tried to dribble past Henry and get a shot away. He went down when seemingly untouched and Mr Eltringham showed a yellow card to Knockaert for the second time before raising a red one and dismissing the attacker. Knockaert had been walking a tightrope all afternoon. He escaped with just a caution for a horrible hack at Henry and was given no punishment for an off-the-ball kick at Janelt in front of one of the assistant referees. His luck eventually ran out and Brentford saw the game out with little trouble.
Nottingham Forest: Samba; Christie, Worrall, Figueiredo, Ribeiro; Yates; Arter (sub Guerrero h/t), Cafu, Lolley (sub Knockaert h/t), Ameobi; Taylor
Subs (not used): Smith, Mbe Soh, Bong, Jenkinson, Mighten, Sow, Swan
Bookings: Figueiredo (61 mins), Samba (64 mins)
Sent Off: Knockaert (90 mins) (second yellow card)
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Pinnock, Sørensen, Henry; Jensen (sub Dasilva 66 mins), Janelt, Marcondes (sub Haygarth 89 mins); Mbeumo (sub Ghoddos 86 mins), Toney (sub Pressley 89 mins), Fosu (sub Canós 66 mins)
Subs (not used): Daniels, Stevens, Jansson, Thompson
Bookings: Toney (64 mins) (third of season), Raya (81 mins), Janelt (90 mins) (fourth of season)