Neal Maupay marked his return from suspension with both goals as Brentford made it four wins from four Sky Bet Championship home games and climbed in to the top two. The French striker took his tally for the season to seven in five games with strikes in either half that helped The Bees to a 2-0 win over Wigan Athletic. It was a win that should probably have been more comprehensive, but the two goals were enough to give Brentford the win.
It was a game Brentford dominated almost exclusively. They could have been ahead inside 30 seconds and although Wigan had a spell where they looked as if they may trouble Brentford, they never looked like taking anything from the game and were indebted to goalkeeper Christian Walton for keeping the score down. But he couldn’t stop Maupay. The striker missed Brentford’s last three games after being retrospectively punished for violent conduct in a game against Aston Villa, but he was soon back on the goal trail and leading The Bees to three more points.
Brentford went on the attack from the kick off and could have been ahead inside 25 seconds. After some interplay in midfield, Romaine Sawyers slipped a ball in to the inside left channel for Maupay to run on to, his low shot arrowed towards the bottom corner but Walton got down to save to his left. And the Wigan goalkeeper was at the centre of the action for the first 15 minutes.
He saved at the feet of Ollie Watkins after the Brentford attacker had blocked a clearance and then got the ball back from Maupay and there was an even better stop soon after. Maupay read a poor back pass from Reece James and raced in on goal, he carried on despite a fairly blatant hard pull back from Chey Dunkley that was ignored by referee Darren England and had only Walton to beat but the goalkeeper was equal to the low shot to keep the scores level. Maupay then miss-kicked when ten yards out after Wigan had failed to clear a throw in and Lewis Macleod picked out the Brentford striker.
Wigan hardly had a kick for the first 15 minutes. They had come with attacking intent, two wingers pushed high up the pitch, full backs prepared to venture forward and livewire Nick Powell finding pockets of space. But with Brentford pressing high, forcing mistakes and able to play through their lines, the visitors were not in the contest in the opening exchanges.
Once they weathered the storm, however, they showed the attacking threat they possessed. Josh Windass had a shot blocked before Powell, who set up that chance, let fly with an effort that Daniel Bentley needed to tip over the bar. Brentford never really cleared their lines from that corner, a deep ball found Powell and he set up James Vaughan to lash wide. Powell also curled a free kick over the top but by that point, Brentford were one up.
The goal came at the midway point of the half and was both incisive and superbly executed. Yoann Barbet’s attempts to take a quick free kick were thwarted by Callum Connolly but Mr England allowed play to go on, Josh McEachran nutmegged Powell and spread the play to the right where Saïd Benrahma, stepped away from Antonee Robinson, played a one-two with Macleod and squared for Maupay to tap in. The goal was well merited by Brentford, who had started the game excellently, but came at a time when Wigan had a foothold in the game.
The opening strike didn’t really change the flow of the game. Wigan had looked to attack anyway and continued to try and do so. They were also happy to stop the momentum of the hosts when needed. Powell and Windass were both cautioned the first half for fouls on Brentford defenders as The Bees looked to play out from the back and there were other occasions when Mr England could have brought out his yellow card as the tackles came in, along with subtle pulls and niggly nudges, particularly on Maupay.
For all Wigan’s attacking intent, however, they did not create a clear-cut chance before the break. Powell looked as if he had got in behind on to a chipped pass but the ball wouldn’t sit down and Ezri Konsa was able to get back and make a tackle. Most of the action, when not slowed down by some robust challenges, was at the other end.
Benrahma curled a free kick inches wide before a clever Sawyers pass released Maupay in the inside left channel again, for the second time on the afternoon his shot was low and true but Walton saved again. Benrahma cut the loose ball back for Macleod but the second shot was saved. Watkins then missed a great chance when he failed to convert a cross from Benrahma after the winger had wiggled free on the right. A follow-up shot from Maupay was blocked, as was one from Barbet.
Brentford went in to the break with the lead and the initiative but Wigan were still in the game and had a sight of goal early on when Connolly got away but he fell over the ball and the chance was gone. Sam Morsy also blasted over when a free kick was half cleared. But it was the next involvement of the Wigan skipper that ruled his team out of the game.
Morsy had already been spoken to twice by Mr England for penalty box altercations with Maupay, appearing to grab at the Brentford striker when waiting for set pieces. When he went up for an aerial challenge with Barbet and head butted the Brentford man, who won the ball, before following through with his arm, Mr England decided that he should be dismissed. That Barbet was clearly distressed for a few moments and Morsy had been spoken to seconds earlier, would not have help the cause of the Wigan skipper.
Henrik Dalsgaard was booked for his part in the melee that followed and when Maupay scored his second within five minutes, the game was just about up. The second had been coming. Although Wigan had looked to push forward at the start of the second half, Brentford were the more incisive side and dominated possession and territory.
Maupay had a sight of goal when Macleod played him through – after the Scottish midfielder had won a survival of the fittest battle in the centre of the park which had seen tackles fly in and bodies everywhere – and sent Walton the wrong way with his shot but the goalkeeper saved with his legs. Dunkley then blocked a Dalsgaard header before the Danish defender set up Macleod for a shot that was blocked.
The second goal eventually came from a corner. The original ball was cleared back to Macleod and he delivered to the far post, Watkins nodded down and Barbet let fly with a shot that was blocked and ricochet around the box but Maupay reacted quickest to poke it in to the roof of the net at the second attempt. From then on, it was just a matter of how many Brentford would score with Wigan sacrificing a striker to be more solid in midfield.
Walton made a superb save from a Watkins header at point blank range when Dalsgaard delivered deliciously again. Sawyers was then unable to convert a Benrahma cross as he raced in to the box and Watkins looped a header just wide. Walton tipped a fierce Macleod shot over the bar before delivering a corner that saw Dalsgaard and Konsa set up Sawyers for a shot that deflected wide. Barbet also curled a free kick over as Brentford continued to press.
There were headers at the other end for Lee Evans and Joe Garner that missed the target but Brentford could have ended the game in the grand manner. A deep McEachran free kick was met on the run on the volley by substitute Julian Jeanvier – on after Chris Mepham had finally taken one hit too many – but the effort whistled just past the post. It meant Brentford didn’t have a third but by that point they had already done enough to send Wigan the same way as Rotherham United, Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest, away from Griffin Park with nothing.
Brentford: Bentley; Dalsgaard, Konsa, Mepham (sub Jeanvier 74 mins), Barbet; McEachran; Benrahma (sub Judge 73 mins), Macleod, Sawyers, Watkins; Maupay (sub Canós 71 mins)
Subs (not used): Daniels, Clarke, Yennaris, Mokotjo
Bookings: Watkins (50 mins) (second of season), Dalsgaard (59 mins) (second of season)
Wigan Athletic: Walton; James, Dunkley, Kipré, Robinson; Connolly, Evans, Morsy, Windass (sub McManaman 80 mins); Powell (sub Garner 67 mins); Vaughan (sub Gibson 64 mins)
Subs (not used): Jones, Byrne, Grigg, Jacobs
Bookings: Windass (34 mins), Powell (40 mins), Dunkley (89 mins)
Sent Off: Morsy (58 mins)
Attendance: 9,951 (682 away fans)