Brentford bounced back to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over Burton Albion at a wet Griffin Park. Scott Hogan was once again Brentford’s main man, grabbing both goals as The Bees ended a four-match losing streak. He put Brentford ahead with a clever finish after 11 minutes, a lead the hosts deserved after a fine start. And after Burton had levelled against the run of play, Hogan won it with a goal eight minutes in to the second half.
The Bees deserved it overall. They had more chances than their visitors, hit the post, had an effort cleared off the line and forced a series of saves. There was also some desperate defending from Burton as well as times when Brentford’s final pass went awry. But there was also good work at the other end from The Bees. They stood firm as Burton pressed late on and Daniel Bentley was largely untroubled as Brentford started a three-game week with a win.
Brentford started with three central defenders, as they had done when dominating in defeat against Birmingham City two weeks earlier. And once again, they took control of the game. The Bees had the ascendency for the first quarter of the match, scored once and could have had more. They were on the front foot from the first whistle with Burton unable to cope with the numbers, movement and intricacy in midfield.
The goal came from Hogan, his 12th of the campaign, and owed much to his hard work a few moments earlier. With Burton appealing for offside, Hogan pressured John Mousinho in to a poor clearance and the striker then forced Jon McLaughlin in to a low save at the near post after he picked up Yoann Barbet’s first time ball. Brentford worked the corner short and, eventually, Romaine Sawyers found space and threaded a pass through the eye of a needle for Hogan to latch on to, turn sharply and fire low in to the bottom corner.
The goal was the least Brentford deserved for their opening to the game. With Barbet and Maxime Colin joining in the attacks on the flanks and Sawyers finding space in behind Hogan, Burton were stretched defensively. When Nico Yennaris burst in to the box and on to a chipped Ryan Woods pass inside the first three minutes it took a last ditch block to stop the cross reaching Hogan. And after the opener Hogan and Sawyers almost combined for a second, Mousinho making an important interception to stop the former giving the latter a sight of goal eight yards out.
As the game ticked towards the half hour mark Burton started to get a foothold in the game. Brentford still had the ascendency but were not creating chances and much of the game was being played in midfield. Jamie Ward pulled a shot wide for the visitors but it was still against the run of play when he levelled just before the half hour. Lucas Akins was the architect, he isolated himself against Andreas Bjelland and raced around the outside of the Danish defender before cutting it back to Ward, on his own, 15 yards out. The shot did not look as if it had enough power to beat Bentley but the Brentford goalkeeper could only get a hand on it and watch as it rolled in.
Brentford responded well to the leveller and the half ended as it had begun, with Brentford in control. The Bees almost regained the lead instantly when John Egan, who had sneaked in to the penalty area, met a Sawyers cross with a powerful downward header but McLaughlin saved superbly. The goalkeeper was indebted to the frame of his goal soon after when Hogan got on to a Sawyers pass and lobbed the ball over the onrushing Burton man, the Brentford striker was dismayed to see his effort hit the post and bounce back in to the arms of McLaughlin, who dived on it.
Barbet had a cross-cum-shot blocked before Mousinho, who seemed to be defending on his own at times, made a vital clearance to prevent Colin heading a Sawyers cross in to the path of Hogan inside the six-yard box. Brentford could not get the lead they deserved before the break but would have had confidence it would come if they continued to play as they did in the first half. And eight minutes in to the second half they were ahead again. Josh McEachran tried to thread a pass through but saw it half blocked, Hogan reacted quickest as it bounced between the legs of Burton defenders 18 yards out, raced around McLaughlin and slotted in to take his tally for the season to 13.
Hogan had gone close earlier in the half, nodding a Colin cross over after good work on the right by the French defender, but there had been in a change in Burton’s outlook at the break. They had been passive in the first period but were more aggressive and played on the front foot more often. That meant the second period started in an open fashion and, with Brentford scoring early, it was end-to-end for much of the half. The visitors could have taken the lead before Hogan grabbed his second. Ward saw a shot blocked after Lloyd Dyer had nodded an Akins cross down. And the Burton attacker saw another effort blocked after he picked up a Jackson Irvine pass. With Egan and Harlee Dean putting in important blocks, Bjelland did his bit, forcing Ward to pass rather than shoot when he appeared to be in on goal.
Hogan thought he had his hat-trick soon after when he got away from Mousinho, rounded McLaughlin again and slotted in. This time, however the goal was ruled out as referee David Coote – who’s decisions throughout the afternoon frustrated many of a Brentford persuasion, decided Mousinho had been fouled. It was probably generous for the Burton defender, who was not strong enough when racing Hogan for the ball.
Burton tried to respond to Brentford’s second goal and put both men and the ball forward but Brentford’s central defensive trio gave them a solid base. Dean made another important block when Chris O’Grady tried to turn and shoot in the penalty area before Ward sliced a shot well wide following a half cleared free kick. At the other end, Yennaris saw a shot blocked after a burst in to the penalty area and Lasse Vibe could have raced clear when he picked up a poor Mousinho pass but the Burton defender reacted quickly and got back to cut him off.
As the minutes ticked down the game became stop-start. Mr Coote booked nine players in the second period, most in the last half hour, and did not seem to have complete control of the game as both teams searched for a vital three points. Bentley saved from Will Miller and McLaughlin saved a looping Hogan header before Vibe cut inside and blasted wide. Tom Field could have sealed the win when he met a Colin cross at the far post but John Brayford cleared off the line and Vibe raced away at the death only to see a recovering Burton defender block. For all their possession and territory, Burton did not really trouble Bentley and a resolute defensive display, coupled with Hogan’s finishing, gave The Bees the win.
Brentford: Bentley; Egan, Dean, Bjelland; Colin, Yennaris, Woods, McEachran (sub Vibe 63 mins), Barbet (sub Field 77 mins); Sawyers; Hogan
Subs (not used): Bonham, Saunders, Kerschbaumer, Kaikai, Hofmann
Bookings: McEachran (57 mins) (second of season), Colin (61 mins) (fifth of season), Bjelland (90 mins) (fourth of season), Yennaris (90 mins) (third of season), Sawyers (90 mins) (fourth of season)
Burton Albion: McLaughlin; Brayford, Mousinho, Turner, McCrory (sub Naylor 83 mins); Akins, Irvine, Palmer, Dyer; Ward (sub Miller 68 mins); O’Grady (sub Harness 81 mins)
Subs (not used): Bywater, Flanagan, Williamson, Choudary
Bookings: Irvine (66 mins), Mousinho (72 mins), McLaughlin (90 mins), Turner (90 mins)
Attendance: 9,035 (431 away fans)