Your Bolton Wanderers v Brentford match report powered by Utilita
Brentford got their first win of the Championship season against Bolton Wanderers, and did it in some style. The Bees won 3-0 in Lancashire with a trio of goals that would grace any game. Long distance strikes from Yoann Barbet, Nico Yennaris and Ollie Watkins gave The Bees their first three points of the campaign on an afternoon where they had to weather an early storm but came through and fully deserved the three points.
The Bees had to cope with the early loss of captain John Egan to a head injury but his replacement Barbet lit up the first half with a free kick from almost 30 yards to put his team in front. That came after Bolton had started well but once The Bees got that goal, no other result really looked likely. Yennaris settled any nerves with a second just past the hour mark and Watkins put the icing on the cake late on with another top corner effort.
The hosts started the game very quickly. They had an energetic approach to the opening exchanges and spent most of the first 15 minutes on the front foot. Bolton pressed Brentford whenever The Bees got the ball and tried to move it forward and then looked to go from back to front quickly when they had possession. The early stages were largely played in Brentford territory and the hosts could have been a couple in front before the quarter hour.
Daniel Bentley saved at the feet of Gary Madine, who had most of the early chances, within the first three minutes. Madine was then unable to reach an Antonee Robinson cross to tap home before Egan bravely headed away when the ball came back in. Egan required lengthy treatment for the head injury sustained in that aerial challenge, with Jem Karacan, and although he tried to battle on he was replaced by Barbet ten minutes later and walked off looking very groggy.
Bentley pushed a Madine shot over the bar when a deep corner reached him at the far post and the Bolton striker then swivelled and shot against a post when Mark Little crossed from the right. Bentley appeared to have that shot covered but it still gave an indication that Bolton had the upper hand. But the delays for Egan’s head injury and subsequent substitution had taken the sting out of the game a little. Bolton’s energy levels appeared to drop and with Barbet and Andres Bjelland now at the heart of Brentford’s defence, The Bees began to find their feet.
They began to take control of the midfield with Ryan Woods knitting things together. Yennaris, who had taken over as captain, and Romaine Sawyers were finding pockets of space and were able to use the attacking players in front of them to good effect. Neal Maupay saw a shot blocked after finding space in the box and getting on to a Watkins pass. When he then tried to get on to the loose ball he appeared to be hacked down by Mark Beevers but the appeals were waved away by referee Darren England.
Rico Henry then saw a shot saved by Ben Alnwick after good work by Sawyers but he needed his defenders to scramble the loose ball clear. Sawyers should have opened the scoring moments later when he was set up by Maupay but he lashed over from just inside the penalty area. Alnwick then denied Josh Clarke after The Bees had worked the ball cleverly across the pitch before he then saved from Watkins.
Bentley tipped a lofted effort from Madine over the bar at the other end and then saved comfortably from a header from the same man but Brentford had the momentum and looked the most likely team to score. Maupay could have put his team in front when he got on to a clever Henry pass and drilled a low shot that Alnwick tipped away superbly to his left. But Brentford did not have to wait too much longer for their goal. And what a goal it was. Barbet placing a free kick in to the top corner from 25 yards to put The Bees in front.
The goal had been coming, albeit the source was unexpected, and it was one that would have graced any game. Barbet’s precision with the dead ball left Alnwick helpless and Brentford’s growing confidence got a further boost. The lengthy delay to Egan meant there was still almost 15 minutes until half time and The Bees could have put the game to bed in that period. Alnwick saved superbly from Sawyers and Watkins was unable to poke home the loose ball on the stretch before Barbet whistled another free kick inches past the post before almost finding Maupay from the next dead ball.
The running of Watkins, Yennaris and Clarke from midfield at the end of the half had posed Bolton problems they couldn’t answer and once The Bees got hold of the ball in midfield they appeared to have control of the game. But they only had a one-goal lead at the break and would have expected the home side to roar back. Albeit both teams had to wait for the half time entertainment to finish, almost 20 minutes after the end of the first period, before they could resume.
When the second half did get underway the onslaught from the home side never really came. There was an early free kick that caused some consternation and forced Brentford to battle for six or seven aerial challenges in a row to prevent a clear-cut chance but The Bees still had control. They continued to pass through midfield and look to take the game to their hosts. Clarke had a chance from a clever shot corner but the effort was blocked and Yennaris smashed the loose ball well over.
Barbet then hit a defensive wall with another free kick, the umpteenth won by The Bees in Bolton territory, before he fired the loose ball well wide. A clever quick free kick then released Clarke on the right and he found Sawyers but the shot was blocked. The second goal was coming and when it came it came with a bang. There was some interplay 25 yards from goal before the ball was set back to Yennaris and he smashed a shot in to the top corner from almost 30 yards.
The goal gave The Bees the bit of breathing space they needed and although Bolton tried to fightback, the game was just about won. The home side had made a double substitution just before the strike, sacrificing a man in midfield, and this gave Brentford room to play. Sawyers put Clarke away for a chance to make it three but Alnwick did well to keep out the low shot. And when The Bees broke again soon after, Maupay waited too long to feed Clarke and the winger blasted wide.
Balls in to the Brentford penalty area gave Bolton some hope and Karacan hooked over before getting in the way of a shot from Josh Cullen when a cross was half cleared. But all the chances were at the other end and all the football was being played by Brentford. Watkins saw a shot blocked after a quick free kick and the same player almost got on the end of a quick break after Henry had burst forward and fed Maupay.
But Watkins did not have to wait too much longer for his goal. The ball was worked in to the inside left channel and Watkins weaved in to the penalty area before smashing a shot in to the top corner from 17 yards. Woods blocked an effort from Craig Noone at the other end and Aaron Wilbraham dribbled a shot wide at the death but if there was to be a fourth goal it looked like The Bees would get it.
Watkins saw a shot blocked and Alnwick saved well from the marauding Henry as The Bees again and again ruthlessly exposed Bolton’s loss of shape and confidence. Watkins almost got on to a lofted Henrik Dalsgaard pass at the death to tap in a fourth but Alnwick, who kept his team in it, beat the Brentford man to the ball. That ensured it finished 3-0 and although it could have been more, The Bees were more than happy with that as an afternoon’s work.
Bolton Wanderers: Alnwick; Burke (sub Noone 61 mins), Wheater, Beevers; Little, Karacan, Cullen, Robinson (sub Wilbraham 75 mins); Morais; Armstrong (sub Le Fondre 61 mins), Madine
Subs (not used): Howard, Taylor, Dervite, Pratley
Bookings: Burke (45 mins), Karacan (56 mins)
Brentford: Bentley; Dalsgaard, Egan (sub Barbet 16 mins), Bjelland, Henry; Woods; Clarke (sub Jozefzoon 74 mins), Yennaris, Sawyers (sub Mokotjo 86 mins), Watkins; Maupay
Subs (not used): Daniels, Mepham, McEachran, Shaibu
Bookings: Yennaris (76 mins)
Attendance: 13,897 (477 Bees fans)