A first half goal from Scott Hogan was enough to give Brentford their second win in three Sky Bet Championship games and their second at Griffin Park in four days. It was a win The Bees had to fight for. Hogan’s goal came just before the half hour and was probably against the run of recent play, albeit Brentford just about deserved to lead at half time. Forest had the better of the second half and Daniel Bentley had to make a couple of fine saves to keep Brentford in front and ensure they took the points.
Brentford started the game very brightly. They were looking to build on the second half performance they produced in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Ipswich Town and went straight on the attack. The early link up play between Romaine Sawyers, Nico Yennaris and Hogan in Brentford’s attacking spine caused Forest problems and The Bees created chances. Yennaris went closest in the first ten minutes with a shot from 18 yards after a nice turn from Hogan that flew inches past the post with Stephen Henderson rooted to the spot.
The Bees almost found a way through soon after but Henderson rushed out to save at the feet of Hogan following a nice exchange of passes with Sawyers. Hogan then got on the end of a Callum Elder cross, after the left back had joined in on the overlap, but his near post flick was blocked. The opening exchanges had been encouraging for the hosts with Forest struggling to contain Brentford’s attacking options in midfield but a poor tackle on Lewis Macleod by Pajtim Kasami, who escaped anything more than a lecture from referee Tim Robinson, slowed the flow of the game and enabled the visitors to regroup.
Forest started to get in to the game as the first quarter came to a close. They were particularly using the pace and trickery of right winger Hildeberto Pereira but their midfield was getting closer to Brentford’s and they were winning more than their share of possession. A Kasami free kick was blocked at the near post before Bentley saved a powerful shot from Henri Lansbury. Pereira almost broke the deadlock when he got on to a flick from Apostolos Vellios and made the most of a ricochet to find space between Elder and Harlee Dean but his low shot fizzed inches wide. Vellios was then unable to convert at the near post when Danny Fox overlapped from left back and delivered a fine ball.
When Brentford scored it was probably against the run of play in the previous ten minutes. Pereira had been posing Elder a series of questions but seemed unwilling to do his defensive work and it was the Forest winger’s lack of effort chasing back that led to Brentford’s goal. Elder broke forward in to space and found Ryan Woods, who then picked out Josh Clarke on the right. The winger delivered a superb ball that Hogan met at the near post but Henderson somehow kept it out and then bounced up quickly to save again when Macleod met the rebound. But there was no escape the third time as the ball dropped for Hogan to tap it over the line and give Brentford the lead.
It could have been two moments later when Macleod ran from deep and exchanged passes with Yennaris but his low shot didn’t trouble Henderson. Macleod then shot wide when a cross was half cleared before a curling free kick deflected inches wide, possibly via the fingertips of the increasingly busy Henderson. From the resulting corner, again delivered by Macleod, Hogan headed wide when unmarked ten yards out and Sawyers flicked another corner across the face of goal in the dying moments of a half that ended with Brentford in the lead and with the initiative.
The hosts continued to hold the upper hand after the break but the first 15 minutes of the second half were high intensity. Forest came out with renewed energy and pressed Brentford high up the pitch. They harried whenever The Bees had the ball and although the home side had the better of possession and territory, there were few chances. The one that did come, however, almost resulted in a second goal. Macleod spread the play and when Clarke’s shot was blocked the Scottish midfield man curled a shot against the crossbar from 20 yards. Clarke gathered the loose ball but smashed his shot over.
Forest’s energy eventually enabled them to take control of the game. They were quicker to the loose balls and forced mistakes from Brentford, which started to come more frequently. Pereira could have levelled when he got away from Maxime Colin but his shot was weak and Bentley saved. Bentley was in the action again moments later when he saved superbly from Pereira after the winger had reacted quickest to a misdirected Elder header. Ben Osborn was lurking for any loose ball but he was crowded out and Brentford eventually cleared.
Forest were starting to pile on the pressure as the minutes ticked down. They also put pressure on Mr Robinson with a series of appeals for fouls and handball in the penalty area, all waved away. Elder had to be alert to divert an Osborn shot over the bar after a clever short corner and when the visitors broke down the left, Bentley made a brave low catch as Oliver Burke tried to turn home an Eric Lichaj cross.
Brentford’s chances in the later stages were few and far between. John Egan forced Henderson in to a low save when he met a Sam Saunders corner and the Irish defender headed wide soon after. The Bees were given a late boost when Damien Perquis was sent off. He had already been booked for dissent and was then shown a second yellow card by Mr Robinson after hacking down Sawyers after the Brentford man had turned clear.
But it was Forest that ended the stronger. Despite being a man down they pressed forward and Brentford made a few mistakes to leave themselves open. Bentley held on to a powerful shot from Kasami and ensured it did not drop loose but he saved his best until last. The match was more than 95 minutes old when a flick from Osborn set Britt Assombalonga free with only Bentley to beat but the Brentford goalkeeper made himself big and kept the shot out to give his team the win.
Brentford: Bentley; Colin, Dean, Egan, Elder; Yennaris, Woods; Clarke, Sawyers, Macleod (sub Saunders 82 mins); Hogan
Subs (not used): Kurasik, Bjelland, Kerschbaumer, McEachran, Ledesma, Hofmann
Bookings: Colin (60 mins), Egan (68 mins), Woods (71 mins) (second of season)
Nottingham Forest: Henderson; Lichaj, Mills, Perquis, Fox (sub Burke 66 mins); Vaughan (sub Assombalonga 72 mins); Pereira, Kasami, Lansbury, Osborn; Vellios
Subs (not used): Smith, Mancienne, Cohen, Lam, Cash
Bookings: Mills (40 mins), Pereira (84 mins), Kasami (90 mins)
Sent Off: Perquis (88 mins) (second bookable offence)
Attendance: 10,004 (1,614 away fans)