Two goals inside the first 16 minutes helped condemn Brentford to defeat against promotion favourites Newcastle United. Dwight Gayle moved to the top of the Sky Bet Championship scoring charts with two goals for the hosts after Ciaran Clark had put them in front. A second half strike from Scott Hogan, who is now on eight league goals for the season himself, gave Brentford some hope but there was no way back.
It was Brentford’s start that proved their undoing. They gave away two poor goals before 20 minutes had elapsed and there was no way of climbing the mountain created. The Bees fought back in the first period and could have gone in just one behind but then conceded again moments after the re-start. A Hogan header gave them a lifeline but it proved mere consolation in the end.
If Brentford had taken the early chance that came their way, the afternoon may have been a little different. It was exceptionally crafted, with Romaine Sawyers spreading the play to right where Maxime Colin had made the overlapping run, the French defender delivered a cross to the far post to the unmarked Hogan but he could not hit the target. The ball may have been fractionally too high for Hogan but he would have opened the scoring if he had hit the target and the importance of that moment was clear almost immediately as Newcastle took the lead.
It was a bad goal for The Bees to give away, coming from the second phase of a set piece. An initial free kick from Jack Colback was almost nodded in by Ayoze Pérez but John Egan blocked, however, when Jonjo Shelvey then sent a second ball in, Clark was unmarked to power a header in to the bottom corner from six yards. Daniel Bentley was left helpless and could do nothing once the ball had reached Clark.
Shelvey had a shot blocked early in the piece and by the 15-minute mark was running the show. He was dropping to pick the ball up from his defenders but had the athleticism to be involved in moves higher up the pitch within seconds. Brentford needed to get to grips with the midfield man but soon found themselves two goals behind. This time The Bees failed to deal with an agricultural ball forward and when Gayle picked it up as it dropped loose he created space and drilled it in to the bottom corner from 15 yards. Once again, Bentley could do little once his defence had left him exposed.
It could have been worse for Brentford. Christian Atsu was a menace on the right and, as well as a couple of crosses that narrowly failed to find their target, he curled a shot inches over the bar as the half hour approached. The hosts also had the ball in the net midway through the half. Gayle cleverly dummied a Paul Dummett pass to create space for Yoan Gouffran but Bentley got down well to save the low shot, the ball was recycled and, after Shelvey had missed his kick, Gouffran shot again but Pérez’s diversion of the ball in to net was done with his hand, so referee Simon Hooper ruled the goal out.
With the game reaching the half hour mark it began to change. Shelvey’s influence lessened as Brentford got closer to him and the energy required to be the first man in all over the pitch started to take its toll. Brentford also brought Sawyers in to a central role and he almost set up a goal for the visitors. A chipped ball over the top allowed Nico Yennaris to dart in behind but his powerful shot was superbly kept out by Karl Darlow. Lewis Macleod also had a shot blocked after good work by Sawyers and Yennaris as The Bees got a foothold in the game.
But the visitors did go in at the break two down and knowing they needed to find something in the second half if they were to come away with a point. Instead, they conceded a third within five minutes. It came from a Brentford attack when Colin almost got on to a Hogan pass and clear, however, that just left space for Newcastle to exploit. Pérez picked up Atsu’s pass and found Gouffran, Shelvey joined in on the overlap and delivered a cross for Gayle to poke home from inside the six-yard box.
Brentford had started the second half on the front foot, playing higher up the pitch and had almost broken through just before the goal. Immediately after it, they continued with that attacking intent and scored within two minutes. Macleod delivered a corner from the right, Sawyers flicked it on at the near post and Hogan arrived late to power a header past Darlow and in. There was an opportunity for a second for The Bees soon after when a corner was half cleared and Ryan Woods fed Yennaris but his effort flew over the bar.
Brentford’s response to Newcastle’s third goal put the hosts on the back foot a little and gave almost 3,000 travelling Bees fans something to cheer. But Newcastle’s quality was evident and they almost grabbed a fourth when, after fine play on the left, a Gouffran shot deflected wide. Shelvey then had a shot blocked after the resulting corner was played short.
There was no lack of effort from The Bees as they tried to find a way back in to the game and they began to dominate possession and territory. If referee Hooper had deemed Grant Hanley’s challenge on Hogan, after the Brentford striker had led him a merry dance on the left, a foul and awarded a penalty it could have set up an interesting finish but it was Newcastle who were more incisive with their possession and came closest to scoring.
Bentley saved well from Pérez after he got on to an Atsu cut back before Shelvey curled a free kick over the bar. Bentley then saved at the feet of Pérez and got behind a curling effort from Gayle, who had set the previous chance up. Woods fired just wide for The Bees and then faded a shot past the post late on but it was Newcastle who came closest to adding the fifth goal of the afternoon. Achraf Lazaar saw a shot deflect wide before Pérez fired across the face of goal after twisting and turning free. Pérez also shot over at the death but a three-goal defeat would have been harsh on The Bees. That the points went to the hosts, however, was not.
Newcastle United: Darlow; Anita, Clark, Lascelles (sub Hanley 60 mins), Dummett; Shelvey, Colback; Atsu (sub Yedlin 72 mins), Pérez, Gouffran (sub Lazaar 84 mins); Gayle
Subs (not used): Sels, Hayden, Diamé, Mitrović
Bookings: Gouffran (26 mins), Colback (38 mins), Atsu (41 mins)
Brentford: Bentley; Colin, Dean, Egan, Bjelland (sub Barbet 75 mins); Yennaris (sub McCormack 78 mins), Woods; Clarke, Macleod (sub Kaikai 64 mins), Sawyers; Hogan
Subs (not used): Bonham, Saunders, McEachran, Kerschbaumer
Bookings: Dean (24 mins) (fifth of season – suspended for one match, Derby County (A) 18 October), Sawyers (72 mins) (third of season), Woods (73 mins) (sixth of season)
Attendance: 51,885 (2,526 Bees fans)