Brentford were beaten at home for the first time for more than three months as promotion-chasing West Bromwich Albion took the points in a game decided by a single goal. A solo effort from Kyle Edwards settled the contest in favour of the visitors, who are set for the Sky Bet Championship Play-Offs, at least, when the season comes to an end in May. It was a goal worthy of winning any game and gave the visitors all three points.
It was a game where conditions played a huge part. Brentford had almost complete control in the first half when they played with a strong wind mostly in their favour but struggled against the same wind after falling behind. The Bees had chances before the break but couldn’t get ahead and when West Brom took their chance after the break, that got them the win as they became the first team to leave Griffin Park with three points since Swansea City in early December.
The visitors probably started slightly the brighter. With a strong wind swirling around inside Griffin Park, conditions were difficult but West Brom were the first team to get the ball on the floor and build attacking moves. They created nothing of note in the opening exchanges, but their interplay and movement gave an indication of the threat posed and they delivered some dangerous dead balls that Brentford had to defend well.
Despite a good start from the visitors, the first chances of the game went Brentford’s way and Sam Johnstone was the busier goalkeeper in the first quarter of the contest. After a spell of possession, Romain Sawyers played a pass and Saïd Benrahma burst in to space before stinging the palms of Johnstone with a low shot. When Sawyers was on the end of a similar move soon after, getting on to a Henrik Dalsgaard pass, his cross-cum-shot was pushed out by Johnstone.
Johnstone also saved low to his left from a Benrahma snapshot after a cross had been half cleared before a Sergi Canós shot was deflected away for a corner. Johnstone had to be brave to save at the feet of Benrahma when it looked like he would get on to a Dalsgaard pass but was indebted to his defenders and some fortune soon after. A corner was worked low and Canós spun before crossing for Julian Jeanvier, the shot looked set for the net but pinballed around as defenders flew in and eventually went behind for a goal kick. The ball may have come last off Neal Maupay but the West Brom goal was leading a charmed life.
And that continued as the half wore on. Sawyers and Kamohelo Mokotjo in the centre of midfield began to take command of the game. They were pressed hard but with Ezri Konsa and Yoann Barbet joining in they were able to play through. Dalsgaard, on the right, was a constant threat with Conor Townsend unsure how to cope with him and Canós, and Jay Rodriguez offering no defensive support.
The Bees should probably have been ahead by the break but were unable to turn territory and shots in to a goal. Johnstone saved well to his left when Barbet let fly from distance and Maupay was crowded out by Craig Dawson when he tried to convert a Benrahma cross. The resulting corner was played deep and worked by Sawyers to Dalsgaard, the cross reached Jeanvier and he got a shot away that hit a well-positioned Johnstone, albeit he knew very little about it.
Edwards shot over for the visitors when they had got the ball to him after Brentford had twice failed to spring a counter-attack from a corner and Luke Daniels then got down well to hold on to a fierce cross-cum-shot from Mason Holgate. Rodriguez also saw a shot blocked but Brentford had the initiative, albeit they were probably helped by having the wind slightly in their favour before the break. Benrahma saw a shot blocked for The Bees before Johnstone saved a Barbet free kick high to his right.
But any momentum Brentford had at half time was reversed six minutes after the break when West Brom took the lead. It came from a Brentford attack with Canós breaking down the field, but he was held up by Ahmed Hegazi and the pass to Mokotjo went astray. The visitors released Edwards just inside the Brentford half and he set off, he raced towards goal, weaved in to the box, past Barbet and Jeanvier and slotted home. It was a superb goal, but one Brentford will feel should never have come about.
The Bees had started the second half well and Moses Odubajo fired in to the side netting after getting on to a Sawyers pass but the goal invigorated the visitors and they pushed on. Rodriguez fired wide when Odubajo headed a cross in to his path and Dawson then went for goal from long-range, trying to catch Daniels out, but missed the target. Dwight Gayle had a sight of goal when a long ball dropped to him 15 yards out, but his effort deflected wide off Konsa.
Daniels saved from Hegazi when a corner was half cleared and then held on to a low Chris Brunt effort before making a fine low stop from a Gayle free kick. There was then a fine save by the Brentford goalkeeper from a Brunt effort and when Dawson tapped in, he was adjudged offside and the goal ruled out. Hegazi looked well place to head in a Brunt corner as the minutes ticked down but nodded wide only for referee Andrew Madley to award a corner.
Brentford’s attacking instinct had not been curbed after the break, they were just up against a more potent force. The Bees looked to go forward in the same way they did in the first period and created chances. They built play patiently when they could and looked to get wing backs Odubajo and Dalsgaard in behind on the flanks. But Johnstone and his defenders were standing firm.
There was a superb block from Townsend when Canós got in to the box on the left side and let fly with a shot that looked set to severely test Johnstone. Canós was then denied by Johnstone after Benrahma got away from Dawson on the left and an Odubajo shot hit Ollie Watkins as it flew towards goal. Watkins then had a shot blocked after Dalsgaard nodded in to his path as time started to run out for Brentford.
The best opening for The Bees came when Odubajo got away on the left and saw a cross blocked, his second attempt beat Johnstone but eluded Maupay inside the six-yard box and Hegazi cleared. But playing against the wind, and against a team with a lead to hold on to, Brentford were finding it hard to build any momentum. They tried to play through, but the visitors pressed high and stopped them making progress and long balls were being returned by the conditions.
Brentford made changes to try and find a way back in to the game. Josh Dasilva and Emiliano Marcondes joined Watkins in entering the fray and there was a change in shape with Odubajo withdrawn. But there were few chances. The organisation of the visitors, coupled with the conditions, meant Brentford offered little and Daniels had to save a Gayle free kick late on. When Brentford did get bodies in to the box at the death Jeanvier was unable to reach a Benrahma cross to head in and West Brom had the win.
Brentford: Daniels; Konsa, Jeanvier, Barbet; Dalsgaard, Sawyers, Mokotjo (sub Dasilva 83 mins), Odubajo (sub Marcondes 83 mins); Canós (sub Watkins 69 mins), Maupay, Benrahma
Subs (not used): Gunnarsson, McEachran, Sørensen, Forss
Bookings: Odubajo (58 mins) (third of season), Jeanvier (65 mins) (third of season)
West Bromwich Albion: Johnstone; Holgate, Dawson, Hegazi, Townsend; Brunt; Edwards (sub Robson-Kanu 74 mins), Johansen, Morrison (sub Livermore 80 mins), Rodriguez; Gayle
Subs (not used): Bond, Bartley, Mears, Barry, Murphy
Bookings: Gayle (33 mins)
Attendance: 11,488 (1,598 away fans)