Brentford conceded three goals in 14 first half minutes as they let a one-goal lead slip to lose to Derby County. The Bees had taken the lead in the opening seconds when Henrik Dalsgaard headed in but that was as good as it for the visitors on a miserable East Midlands afternoon. The hosts hit three times in a blistering spell and by the half hour mark they had a 3-1 win, and the points, wrapped up.
And there was little doubt they deserved the victory. Derby swarmed all over Brentford in the first half, they forced mistakes when The Bees had the ball and produced some delighted moves when they won it back. They could have scored more than the three goals they got in the first half and although Brentford probably had the better of the second period, the game was won by then.
The game could not have started better for The Bees, scoring before Derby had managed a meaningful touch. The visitors went on the attack from the kick-off and Saïd Benrahma won a corner. Benrahma delivered that corner and Dalsgaard got across his man to head powerfully in to the far corner. The header entered the net via the crossbar giving Scott Carson no chance and the tackle to concede the corner from Craig Forsyth was the only touch from a home player before they kicked off again.
The goal came before any pattern of play had been established and when the shape of the game was formed, it was the hosts who took control. They crowded the centre of the pitch, finding space to play intricate passes when they had the ball and stopping The Bees finding any rhythm. They had turned the game around by the midway point of the first half and could have been out of sight by then.
The home side could have levelled within seven minutes when Harry Wilson came in off the left with an attacking run and let fly with a shot that dipped and swerved wickedly and appeared to be past Daniel Bentley before the Brentford goalkeeper stuck out a hand and managed to get enough on it to push it past the post. The resulting corner was half cleared and Fikayo Tomori and Wilson combined to set up Mason Mount for a shot that flew over the bar. Jayden Bogle had a shot blocked soon after but the goal was coming and duly arrived just before the quarter hour.
It was a disastrous one for Brentford to conceded as it came from their own corner. Benrahma’s ball was easily cut out and Derby broke, Wilson played Craig Bryson in to yards of space on the right and was then waiting for the square ball to tap in to an empty net. As soon as Derby worked the ball out of their box and past the challenge of Romaine Sawyers the goal seemed a certainty.
And the home side didn’t let up there. Brentford were struggling to get any sort of meaningful possession and although they won corners with some exciting individual play, particularly from Benrahma - who also curled an effort just past a post, it was almost one way traffic. Wilson fired a free kick in to a defensive wall and the follow-up volley from Mount was well saved by Bentley but the second goal was not long in coming.
As with the first goal, it was simple for the home side, and avoidable from a Brentford point of view. A ball over the top from Bradley Johnson gave David Nugent a run on goal as Brentford's defensive line was found wanting with Julian Jeanvier behind his colleagues, the striker had little trouble lofting the ball over Bentley and in to the net. And he could have added another soon after with a header that flew over the bar.
But the chances kept coming for the home side. Bentley saved a Mount free kick but that just proved to be a sighter for the impressive midfield player. The next time he stepped up, after Chris Mepham had been adjudged to foul Wilson after he had beaten two defenders and looked to be heading for goal, he curled an effort over the wall and in to the net from 22 yards. As soon as the ball was up and over, there was little Bentley could do and Derby had well-deserved breathing space.
And it could have been worse for The Bees as Bentley saved from Bryson soon after. The visitors had been chasing shadows for long periods of the first half. They could not contain Wilson and Mount, in particular, and were unable to build any momentum of their own due to the pressure being exerted when they had the ball in their own half. Passes were going astray and Derby seemed to have built a winning lead.
Mason Bennett shot over the bar and Nugent missed the target with a curling effort after playing a one-two with Bryson but as half time approached, the effort the home side had exerted started to take its toll. The Bees ended the half strongly and could have pulled one back before the interval. A low shot from Benrahma troubled Carson low to his left and the goalkeeper superbly saved, pushing the ball away from the arriving Neal Maupay. Lewis Macleod also shot over the bar after a one-two with Maupay but Derby’s two-goal lead at the break was a fair reflection of the first period.
As well as Derby played in the first half, it was a different contest after the break, albeit Bennett could have scored early in the second period but blasted over bar from the edge of the penalty area. Derby dropped their intensity levels and there was space for Brentford to play. Josh McEachran found time and space and The Bees started to put together spells of attacking possession for the first time, although mistakes were still coming too often for there to be sustained spells of pressure.
Maupay headed a cross from Benrahma wide and a deep corner was headed on by Ollie Watkins and Jeanvier to Dalsgaard but his effort was saved. Watkins then saw an effort blocked by Richard Keogh after Brentford had broken quickly on the left. At the other end, Wilson played a one-two with Mount and burst in to box but lifted his effort wide of the near post and substitute Florian Jozefzoon blasted high and wide from the edge of the penalty area
Sawyers saw a shot blocked after being set up by Watkins and Mount curled a free kick wide at the other end but the game was starting to meander as the final minutes loomed. Brentford were still striving for a way back in to the game but Derby had dropped deeper and were content to largely let The Bees play in front of them. Kamohelo Mokotjo almost gave The Bees a late lifeline with a shot that curled over with Carson seemingly beaten and that summed up Brentford’s afternoon.
There were further late chances for Sergi Canós, who saw a shot deflect inches wide after good play by Watkins, and Dalsgaard, who lashed over, but Brentford were well beaten. Even late penalty appeals, when a pull on Nico Yennaris as he went to attack a corner seemed clear to all, were waved away. But that would only have lessened the loss as Derby were worthy winners.
Derby County: Carson; Bogle, Tomori, Keogh, Forsyth; Johnson, Bryson; Bennett (sub Jozefzoon 74 mins), Mount, Wilson (sub Malone 83 mins); Nugent (sub Marriott 76 mins)
Subs (not used): Roos, Wisdom, Waghorn, Huddlestone
Bookings: Wilson (64 mins), Mount (80 mins)
Brentford: Bentley; Dalsgaard, Jeanvier, Mepham, Barbet; McEachran (sub Mokotjo 65 mins); Benrahma (sub Canós 64 mins), Sawyers, Macleod (sub Yennaris 76 mins), Watkins: Maupay
Subs (not used): Daniels, Odubajo, Konsa, Judge
Bookings: Mepham (27 mins)