Brentford failed to build on an early Tom Field goal and were, in the end, soundly beaten by Preston North End. The Bees had control of the game when Field headed them in front and, despite Aiden McGeady conjuring an equaliser out of nothing, had the upper hand for much of the first half. But they failed to go in ahead at the break and conceded early in the second half with McGeady the creator this time. Once again Brentford responded but could not score and two goals in two minutes, including another from distance from McGeady, settled matters. A late Maxime Colin goal was barley consolation.
The final 4-2 score line was not really a reflection on the match. Preston had hardly been in the game before they equalised but they were the better team in both penalty areas, and just outside. Brentford allowed too many chances to come and go, particularly at the end of the first half and when they tried to fight back from 2-1 down, and when Preston landed their double punch, there was no way back.
Brentford started with an attacking outlook. They came in to the game on the back of four points and six goals from home games against Aston Villa and Brighton and Hove Albion and looked full of confidence. They were on the front foot from the first whistle with striker Lasse Vibe, ably supported by wingers Jota and Florian Jozefzoon, finding spaces and running channels to cause the host problems. The Bees also pressed high up the pitch early on with Preston looking to do the same, that left space in midfield for Brentford to play and it was an open game from the start.
Brentford almost scored within the first three minutes when, after Nico Yennaris had spread the play, Jota cut inside and delivered a cross to the far post that just eluded Vibe. Moments later Colin got on to a Harlee Dean pass and stepped away from Greg Cunningham before letting fly with a shot that was arrowing towards the top corner before Chris Maxwell pushed it away. Jota was unable to turn in a Ryan Woods cross but after the first corner had been played short and cleared, Brentford scored from the next. Jota delivered it and Field made a late run to meet the cross eight yards out and power home his first league goal for The Bees.
It was a lead Brentford deserved for their performance in the first 15 minutes but Preston had shown their danger. Strike pair Jordan Hugill and Callum Robinson clearly had a good partnership. Their styles complemented each other and their movement across the line and in to space presented Brentford with a defensive challenge. Robinson had a chance before Brentford’s goal when he was found by Alan Browne after a lucky ricochet in midfield and when the ball broke kindly again to the Preston striker Andreas Bjelland had to make a block. The ball was recycled and fell to Cunningham but he fired across the face of goal from ten yards.
But Brentford had the upper hand after the goal and could have added to their lead. Vibe robbed dithering defenders and fired in a cross that Jota was just unable to turn home and when Field delivered another cross soon after, Maxwell punched off the head of Jozefzoon. Tyias Browning blasted over for the home side following a quick break but when they equalised just before the 20-minute mark, it was very much against the run of play. McGeady conjured it out of nothing. He picked up a loose ball in midfield and set off from deep before letting fly from 20 yards, the ball arrowed past the hand of Daniel Bentley and nestled in the bottom corner.
The goal gave the hosts and boost and they had a good spell as they looked to turn the game around. Dean made a fine recovery tackle as Daryl Horgan looked to burst in to the penalty area and Bentley punched clear when Robinson let fly from 25 yards after turning well. McGeady then curled a free kick over the bar from 20 yards after Colin had been harshly penalised when going shoulder-to-shoulder with Hugill. Bentley saved from Robinson again but Brentford began to take control as half time approached. The home side had worked incredibly hard to stop Brentford’s midfield trio – Josh McEachran, Yennaris and Woods – dominating but looked as if they tired as the break loomed.
The Bees could have gone in ahead at the interval. Jota fired a snap shot wide from 20 yards before a trio of chances came and went. First Vibe was just unable to turn in a Colin cross then Bjelland exchanged passes with Field and drilled in a shot from a tight angle that Maxwell saved and when Yennaris fed Jota, he turned and fired over the bar. Maxwell was in the action again at the end of the half, rushing out to beat Jozefzoon to a Woods through ball as The Bees went in at the break with the initiative, if not the lead.
Preston wrestled that initiative back at the start of the second half. Bentley had to be alert to save from McGeady within the first minute of the second period and seven minutes in the hosts were ahead. McGeady was the creator this time, cutting in off the left and delivering a ball in to the centre, Robinson beat the offside trap and got the slightest of touches to take it past Bentley and in to the net. Brentford did not deserve to trail on the balance of the game to that point but Preston had started the half well and Brentford had to regain control.
The Bees introduced Sergi Canós and the attacker soon had the visitors on the front foot again. Dean almost conjured a goal from nothing with a shot after a burst from deep that whistled over and Canós tried to play Jota in soon after before picking up the loose ball and seeing a shot blocked. Maxwell saved from Jota before Field got in on the left, past Horgan, and delivered a cross that Vibe turned towards goal and Cunningham cleared as it was rolling in to the corner. Vibe then had a shot blocked after being played in by Yennaris as Brentford pressed.
Canós also shot over for The Bees but their inability to turn pressure in to goals would prove to be their undoing. McGeady went close again with a shot that flew wide and Tom Clarke headed a corner over before, with 15 minutes to go, Preston gave themselves breathing space. Once again McGeady conjured it out of nothing, creating half a yard of space and smashing in to the top corner from 20 yards. Bentley was left to grope at thin air as Preston pulled clear. And minutes later, the game was over. The hosts could have scored when a McGeady ball put Hugill away but Bentley denied the striker and the reprieve was short lived. It appeared Romaine Sawyers was fouled as Brentford looked to counter and Preston turned the tables, a ball through leaving Horgan a run on goal and he slotted past Bentley to make it four.
Brentford refused to give in but the game was incredibly open with the visitors sacrificing defensive shape to chase the game. Vibe headed a Woods cross wide before a Canós shot was blocked and the ball fell to Colin to smash home via a deflection and the crossbar. Hugill headed wide when well-placed at the other end before Canós was blocked off by Browning as he tried to get on to a Vibe pass. Jota was also incorrectly flagged offside when he had a chance to reduce the deficit.
Preston substitute Stevie May could have made it five when he raced clear and got away from Bjelland but Bentley saved to keep it at four. A fifth goal would certainly have been harsh on The Bees but even without it there was no way back and Preston had the points.
Preston North End: Maxwell; Browning, Clarke, Huntington, Cunningham; Horgan (sub Johnson 81 mins), Pearson, Browne, McGeady (sub May 87 mins); Robinson (sub Barkhuizen 68 mins), Hugill
Subs (not used): Lindegaard, Makienok, Beckford, Boyle
Brentford: Bentley; Colin, Dean, Bjelland, Field; McEachran (sub Sawyers 76 mins); Jota, Woods, Yennaris (sub Kerschbaumer 76 mins), Jozefzoon (sub Canós 56 mins); Vibe
Subs (not used): Bonham, Egan, Clarke, Barbet
Bookings: Colin (29 mins) (seventh of season), McEachran (57 mins) (seventh of season)