Brentford kicked off the 2016/17 Sky Bet Championship season with a defeat away to Huddersfield Town. The Bees were second best in the first half and deservedly trailed when the hosts scored just after half time. But they mounted a comeback and Nico Yennaris came off the substitute’s bench to equalise inside the final 15 minutes. However, it was another substitute that had the final word. Kasey Palmer scoring with his first touch of the afternoon to win it for the home side two minutes after Brentford’s goal.
Huddersfield probably deserved the win over the course of the 90 minutes. They dominated possession and territory in the first half but a well-organised Brentford defence prevented them from troubling Daniel Bentley too often. They struck early in the second period but Brentford had the momentum when Yennaris levelled. They could not, however, build on it and Palmer won it for the hosts.
Huddersfield went on to the front foot from the first whistle. The hosts started the game with two energetic wingers and at times looked like they were playing four up front. Joe Lolley and Rajiv van La Parra joined strikers Jack Payne and Elias Kachunga in pressing Brentford’s defence and they looked to capitalise on any semblance of a mistake. The home side looked to their left a lot in the early stages and got van La Parra involved. The Huddersfield man fired over when well-placed from a Tommy Smith ball before Daniel Bentley saved a weak low shot.
Payne shot over for the hosts when Kachunga picked up a loose Konstantin Kerschbaumer pass before van La Parra shot well over. Lolley looked like he was in behind soon after, getting away from Callum Elder, but the Brentford man recovered – assisted by Ryan Woods – and when the ball was recycled van La Parra shot over. Huddersfield probably ended the first quarter believing they should have been in front but had failed to really trouble Bentley and Brentford came more in to the game as the half wore on.
The Bees had been unable to really get Josh McEachran and Ryan Woods in to the game in the first 25 minutes. That meant Kerschbaumer, in particular, was starved of possession and Scott Hogan had been unable to get in to any goal scoring positions. When The Bees won the ball and a quick Lewis Macleod pass set Hogan away in the inside left channel, the Brentford marksman forced the first real save of the game with a low shot that Danny Ward held well.
Hogan went close again as Brentford had a decent spell in the middle of the half. Josh Clarke delivered a ball from the right and the striker fired across the face of goal after working his way through defensive challenges that may in other circumstances have been penalised. Brentford started to get on the front foot as the match ticked past the half hour but Huddersfield’s work rate meant they could not create too many chances. And the hosts ended the half in the ascendancy.
Lolley shot wide from 20 yards after creating space and Kachunga blasted wide at the near post after being put away by Payne. Lolley then stung the palms of Bentley after picking the ball up in a penalty area melee and creating some space for himself. The Brentford goalkeeper kept out a low shot from Payne before John Egan made a vital tackle after Lolley had tricked his way in to the penalty area. That ensure Brentford went in to the break level but they would have known they had been second best in the first half.
That pattern continued after the break and an early shot from Jonathan Hogg deflected wide, albeit referee Geoff Eltringham awarded a goal kick. The goal was not, however, long in coming for the hosts. It arrived when a quick throw in was taken on the right, Smith delivered a cross to the far post and Kachunga was able to rise and head in. Brentford had not been able to regroup defensively after an earlier attack, that led to the throw, and were punished by the hosts.
Bentley had to be alert to dive high to his right and turn away a Payne shot to prevent it becoming two soon after and it wasn’t long before Brentford made changes. Yennaris and Sam Saunders were introduced and Romaine Sawyers was moved to a central position, where he immediately began to have more of an influence. Hogan had a sight of goal soon after when he found space after picking up a Clarke pass but his low effort was saved by Ward.
Macleod pulled a shot well wide for The Bees and then forced Ward in to a low save from a free kick as Brentford started to take control. Prompted by Yennaris in midfield, who brought energy to proceedings and seemed to take a position further up the field, Brentford were on the front foot. One attacking move led to Saunders winning and then taking a free kick 25 yards out but he failed to hit the target.
Bentley had to be alert to save from van La Parra after he palmed out a low Sean Scannell cross and that proved to be an important moment as Brentford equalised soon after. It came from another free kick, this one was taken quickly by Sawyers and Macleod flicked it cleverly in to the path of Yennaris, the substitute steadied himself and smashed it low past Ward and in to the net.
That looked as if that would set up The Bees to go on and push for a winner but instead it came at the other end. The goal was scored by Palmer, making his Huddersfield debut on loan from Chelsea, but van La Parra was the architect. The winger ran at the Brentford back line and left defenders in his wake before getting off a shot that Bentley saved superbly but Palmer was first to react and steadied himself before smashing home.
That proved to be the winner, despite Brentford’s efforts and late pressing. Yennaris volleyed over after Harlee Dean had nodded down a Ryan Woods pass and an Egan headed eluded Hogan soon after. Huddersfield sat deep in the final moments but did enough to protect their lead and take the points.
Huddersfield Town: Ward; Smith, Hudson, Schindler, Löwe; Lolley (sub Paurević 85 mins), Hogg, Mooy, van La Parra; Payne (sub Palmer 78 mins), Kachunga (sub Scannell 65 mins)
Subs (not used): Coleman, Cranie, Stanković, Hefele
Bookings: Hudson (71 mins)
Brentford: Bentley; Clarke, Egan, Dean, Elder; Woods, McEachran (sub Yennaris 56 mins); Sawyers, Kerschbaumer (sub Saunders 56 mins), Macleod (sub Hofmann 82 mins); Hogan
Subs (not used): Bonham, Holldack, Field, McCormack
Bookings: McEachran (37 mins)
Attendance: 18,479 (686 Bees fans)