Ollie Watkins scored the winner as Brentford made it three wins from three Sky Bet Championship games at Griffin Park. The attacker slotted home a Saïd Benrahma cross inside the final ten minutes to give Brentford three points they fully deserved. Lewis Macleod had put the home side in front but they were pegged back in the second half by a Matty Cash goal before Watkins popped up with the winner.
There was little doubt Brentford deserved their win. They dominated the entire match apart from a short period just after Forest levelled and that goal was not one the visitors merited. There were countless chances for the home side and they laid siege to the Forest goal for long periods. The 2-1 score line did not tell the story, but it was enough to give Brentford the win.
Brentford went from the jugular almost from the first whistle. The Bees played some superb football in the opening exchanges and should have had at least one goal to show for their efforts in the first 20 minutes. Josh McEachran orchestrated from the base of the Brentford midfield but it was an impressive start from all in red and white as The Bees attacked with pace and in numbers.
The best chance of the opening quarter fell to Yoann Barbet, captain for the day. He got on to the end of a clever low McEachran free kick and swept his shot inches past the far post. Sergi Canós headed over the bar from a corner and another majestic piece of play from McEachran – which saw him involved in a move three or four times as it progressed up the pitch with a brilliant final pass – enabled Henrik Dalsgaard to deliver a cross that Watkins was just unable to convert. The resulting corner was played low to Benrahma but his shot was blocked.
A low Canós cross after a move down the left eluded both Watkins and Benrahma as they arrived and the chances continued to come as the game progressed. Watkins saw a low shot saved after Macleod had nodded in to his path and then another blocked after a nice turn. Barbet was then unable to reach another delightful McEachran free kick as Brentford turned the screw.
The game started to bubble up as half time approached with a few flashpoints. Ezri Konsa was cautioned by referee Peter Bankes after a coming together with Gil Dias when the Forest attacker had to be forcibly removed from his hold on the Brentford defender. Macleod was then booked by the increasingly flustered official when adjudged to have dived in the penalty area as he hobbled away from a challenge by Ben Watson. A frank exchange of views between Barbet and Michael Hefele saw them both cautioned by Mr Bankes.
The game had not been nasty enough to warrant five cautions in the first 35 minutes but had been niggly. Forest goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon was wasting time inside the first ten minutes and the game was stop-start on occasion due to the number of fouls committed by the visitors. Forest had offered very little going forward to worry The Bees. Daniel Bentley had saved from Gil after Jack Robinson had bundled his way through on the left but all the action was at the other end.
Watkins saw a volley blocked and a Barbet shot deflected wide before Romaine Sawyers saw an effort hit a covering defender. There were further appeals from The Bees was Konsa appeared to be hauled down when challenging for a corner but again nothing was given. Pantilimon denied Canós after he got on to a Dalsgaard cross following a superb Sawyers pass. The ball was then recycled and a Sawyers shot fizzed wide.
As half time approached it started to look as if Brentford’s pressure would not result in an interval lead. Macleod sliced an effort well wide before a deep corner was fed back in by Sawyers and Canós headed over. But in the four minutes of first half stoppage time that can only have been added for the time-wasting by Pantilimon, Brentford scored. Benrahma teased Robinson on the Brentford right and created a yard for a cross, Macleod arrived to meet it with his head and steer it past the outstretched hand of Pantilimon and in to the corner.
It was a half time lead that Brentford fully deserved and forced Forest to change their outlook at the break. They made two changes, replacing both their wide attackers, but it was Brentford that were on the front foot at the start of the second half and they should have scored a second within five minutes of the restart. Benrahma curled a shot over after getting on to a Macleod pass as Watkins made a clever decoy run but the best chances came from a series of set pieces.
Hefele sliced a McEachran free kick and forced Pantilimon to tip it away from the top corner and the resulting short corner fell to Watkins, his shot was arrowing in to the far corner but flicked Ben Osborn and flew wide. The next corner was delivered by Benrahma and Konsa was just unable to flick it in and the next was met powerfully on the volley by Macleod. The shot was blocked and Benrahma delivered again, this time Chris Mepham turned it on to the post and then put the rebound wide.
Osborn, one of the half time substitutes, made the vital block of Watkins shot and then got booked before letting fly from 22 yards with a shot that fizzed narrowly wide. But it was the other half time replacement, Cash, that equalised for Forest, albeit the goal owed more to a Brentford error than his efforts. There was little on for Cash when he had the ball 25 yards out, so he decided to have a shot, the effort took a deflection but Bentley would still have expected to save it as he dived low to his right but the ball squirmed through his hands and rolled over the line to leave the game all square.
Canós had seen a shot saved before the equaliser and a low effort from Sawyers had forced Pantilimon to stop low to his left but the goal appeared to shake The Bees for a few moments. After a series of loose passes, Jack Colback robbed Konsa and his cross was diverted narrowly past his own post by Mepham. It then took another good challenge from Mepham to stop Daryl Murphy heading in a Tendayi Darikwa cross.
Brentford weathered that storm and regained the initiative but Forest were holding their shape and breaking the game up as they did in the first half and it was difficulty for Brentford to work their way through. The introduction of Alan Judge, Kamohelo Mokotjo and then Nico Yennaris gave fresh impetus and fresh legs and with Benrahma still influencing the game in the final third, Brentford went seeking a winner. And it came with six minutes to go.
It was no surprise that Benrahma was the architect. The wide man teased Darikwa on the left and worked space, his cross flicked a defender and landed at the feet of Watkins and he had no trouble converting from close range. Osborn had a shot blocked late on but that goal proved to be the winner and it was no more than Brentford deserved.
Brentford: Bentley; Dalsgaard, Konsa, Mepham, Barbet; McEachran (sub Mokotjo 71 mins); Benrahma, Sawyers, Macleod (sub Yennaris 76 mins), Canós (sub Judge 71 mins); Watkins
Subs (not used): Daniels, Clarke, Jeanvier, Forss
Bookings: Konsa (31 mins), Macleod (35 mins) (second of season), Barbet (35 mins), Sawyers (90 mins), Benrahma (90 mins) (second of season)
Nottingham Forest: Pantilimon; Darikwa, Hefele, Fox, Robinson; Watson, Colback; Dias (sub Osborn h/t), Carvalho, Lolley (sub Cash h/t); Murphy (sub Grabban 73 mins)
Subs (not used): Steele, Figueiredo, Gonçalves, Bridcutt
Bookings: Lolley (31 mins), Hefele (35 mins), Osborn (54 mins), Fox (55 mins), Watson (74 mins), Robinson (90 mins), Grabban (90 mins)
Attendance: 10,186 (1,654 away fans)