Two goals from Scott Hogan, including one inside the first minute, was not enough to prevent Brentford losing to Blackburn Rovers. The Bees took the lead with just 33 seconds on the clock but failed to build on it and found themselves behind before the end of first quarter of the match. Hogan struck again to level it up but a Harlee Dean own goal settled things in the favour of the hosts.
On a wintery afternoon in Lancashire, Brentford were unable to turn a great start and domination of possession, after the first half hour, in to a win. Blackburn striker Danny Graham scored twice for the hosts and caused The Bees problems with his aerial ability. Once The Bees levelled the match, Hogan rounding off a great move, they looked as if they had the momentum to go on and win but Blackburn got the fifth goal and that turned out to the crucial one.
Brentford could not have made a better start to the match. Nico Yennaris won an aerial challenge and Lasse Vibe played a first time ball through to release Hogan with only Jason Steele to beat. The striker steadied himself and slotted the ball past the Blackburn goalkeeper and in off the post. The goal should have given Brentford something to build on but instead it was the hosts who reacted best.
The game kicked off with sleet and snow falling and the ball was not rolling in the way watchers would expect. It was the home side that were dealing with that better in the opening exchanges, largely by taking the pitch out of the equation. They were happy to play the ball longer and let strikers Graham and Sam Gallagher compete for it. They started with two conventional wingers – Liam Feeney and Craig Conway – and had full backs keen to join in. Blackburn had an attacking mind-set and went forward looking for a way back in to the game.
They could have been level inside ten minutes but for a great save by Daniel Bentley. Gallagher failed to properly connect with the first cross but when Conway delivered it back in he met it with a powerful header that the Brentford goalkeeper pushed over the bar superbly. The equaliser was not, however, delayed by long. A corner was half cleared and Jason Lowe lifted it back in, Graham met it with a powerful header and then reacted quickest to poke it over the line after Bentley had made another superb save.
Rovers deserved to be level, at least, on the balance of the first 15 minutes and within five minutes they were ahead. The home side worked the ball well on the left and Corry Evans burst in to the box, he cut back and Josh Clarke hacked him down as he slid in, unable to stop himself connecting with the Blackburn player on the slippery surface. Referee Christopher Kavanagh pointed to the spot and Graham sent Bentley the wrong way to put the hosts in front.
Brentford were rocking. Rovers were overloading on the flanks and delivering lots of dangerous balls in to the penalty area. Graham almost complete his hat-trick with a header from a Conway cross but nodded just wide and he then had another aerial effort blocked. The two-goal Rovers striker was then just unable to reach to nod in another Conway cross and Dean blocked another header seconds later.
Brentford were unable to move the ball as they wanted to and were struggling to get a foothold in a match that was becoming increasingly frantic. Conditions were deteriorating and Brentford were not adapting, meaning they could not find their passes and open the home defence up. A lofted ball forward from Dean almost created a goal out of nothing as Darragh Lenihan had to get a toe to it to prevent Vibe scoring and was then lucky to see it hit Steele rather than rolling in to the net.
The weather eased as the game moved towards the half hour mark and Brentford started to come back in to it. There was also a drop in intensity from the hosts and The Bees had room to play their football. They equalised in the 30th minute with a goal expertly carved and finished. Mr Kavanagh played a part with an excellent advantage that allowed Ryan Woods to move forward, Sullay Kaikai found Vibe and then got the ball back centrally before finding Yennaris, bursting forward from midfield, the ball was fed to Hogan and he lifted it over Steele and in to the far corner.
The confidence seemed to drain from Blackburn and Brentford were the team in the ascendency. Kaikai had a shot blocked and then fired inches wide from 25 yards as gaps started to appear. Conway had a shot blocked and then wasted a chance by taking too long to shoot, seeing his effort diverted away by Dean. When Blackburn went back ahead seven minutes before half time with the fifth goal of the opening 45 it was a goal Brentford almost gifted to them. A short John Egan pass presented the ball to Gallagher and he raced down the right before delivering a cross that Dean diverted in to his own net. The Brentford skipper had Graham breathing down his neck and his misdirected clearance gave Bentley no chance.
The first half action would still not let up and Brentford went in to the break with the upper hand. A Clarke cross from the right was just too high for an unmarked Hogan and Steele saved a low Dean effort before Mr Kavanagh blew the half time whistle and gave everyone time to catch their breath. The home side probably deserved their lead on the balance of the first 45 but Brentford had finished the half well and had shown they could open up Rovers when they played the sort of football they are capable of.
The game lost a bit of momentum after the interval. Blackburn started the second half strongly but neither team were able to find the attacking rhythm they had for spells in the first half. Conway misdirected a header when well-placed for the hosts and a Vibe cross just eluded Kaikai at the far post before Ben Marshall blasted well over. But they were the only chances in the first half of the second period and Brentford made a substitution, introducing Romaine Sawyers to try and change the game.
Sawyers was at the centre of everything for The Bees as they chased the game in the final 20 minutes but there was almost an equaliser from a Kaikai corner as Hogan met it on the volley but saw it blocked. With Brentford pushing forward the game opened up and the final stages were more like the first half than the opening exchanges in the second 45. The Bees had dominated possession for most of the second period, they were more patient on the ball and looked for openings and as the minutes ticked by, they started to come.
Clarke had a shot on the turn blocked and an effort from Egan deflected wide. When the resulting corner came in, Egan’s header was blocked and an overhead effort from Dean hit a defender. Hogan saw a shot deflected wide and then missed the target with an acrobatic effort while a Colin shot was again blocked by an increasingly busy home defence. Blackburn were trying to counter-attack and get the goal that would make the game safe. Conway burst in to the box and saw a shot blocked before Graham blasted over and Bentley saved well from Evans.
But most of the action was at the other end. Brentford were pushing forward in number, increasingly getting their centre halves to join in the attack. Blackburn couldn’t clear their lines with the busy Woods and Yennaris sweeping up all the loose balls. The home goal was leading a charmed life and they somehow escaped when Dean charged forward and a Yennaris shot was blocked before the ball pin-balled around the box, falling to a Blackburn player to clear their lines. That summed up Brentford’s second half showing, no shortage of endeavour and territory but Blackburn bodies kept them at bay and gave the hosts the win.
Blackburn Rovers: Steele; Marshall, Lenihan, Mulgrew, Williams; Feeney, Lowe, Evans (sub Bennett 87 mins), Conway; Graham (sub Nyambe 77 mins), Gallagher
Subs (not used): Raya, Byrne, Stokes, Samuelsen, Brown
Bookings: Conway (27 mins), Lowe (59 mins), Marshall (67 mins)
Brentford: Bentley; Colin, Dean, Egan, Bjelland (sub Barbet 88 mins); Woods, Yennaris; Clarke, Vibe (sub Sawyers 70 mins), Kaikai; Hogan
Subs (not used): Bonham, McEachran, Hofmann, Kerschbaumer, Field
Bookings: Bjelland (18 mins) (third of season), Yennaris (66 mins) (second of season)
Attendance: 10,506 (418 Bees fans)