A single goal from Bryan Mbeumo was enough to settle Brentford’s second West London derby of the season in their favour. The French attacker volleyed home in the first half to take his personal tally to eight for the season and grabbed his fourth goal in four games in the process. And that was all it took to give Brentford victory over Fulham, who started the day third in the Sky Bet Championship but ended it looking up at The Bees, and add it to a win over Queens Park Rangers earlier in the season.
And it was a victory that Brentford fully deserved. They dominated almost from start to finish, hit the woodwork three times and forced countless saves and blocks from an overworked Fulham rear-guard. If the visitors had taken anything from the game it would have been an injustice, but it was one that never really looked like happening.
Fulham started the game brightly. They attacked down the left from kick-off and looked to that side often in the opening exchanges. They had their players high up the pitch, looking to get numbers in to attacking areas and trying to stop Brentford playing out through midfield. They had the opening chance of the game when Neeskens Kebano cut in off that left flank and hit a powerful shot that beat David Raya but bounced away off the outside of the post.
The visitors had another chance soon after when Raya’s kick went straight to Ivan Cavaleiro 30 yards from goal, but Brentford regrouped quickly and when the shot eventually came in from Stefan Johansen it rolled wide. Fulham definitely had the better of the opening exchanges with Brentford lacking possession. The visitors did not create as much with the ball as they would have wanted but they would have been happier with the first 15 minutes.
But Brentford started to gain a foothold as the game developed and soon had a control they never relinquished. Kamohelo Mokotjo was wining his midfield battle and using the ball effectively to allow Saïd Benrahma and Mbeumo a chance to get at their full backs. Joe Bryan was booked early on for a hack at Mbeumo and by the 20-minute mark, it was Brentford that had the initiative.
They could have gone ahead when Ollie Watkins met a deep Mathias Jensen corner, but the header deflected wide. When Benrahma intercepted a loose pass soon after he opted to try an extra trick rather than picking out Mbeumo with a pass. The ball eventually fell to Jensen, but his shot was saved low by Marek Rodák. There were, however, signs that a goal was coming. And it arrived midway through the first half.
The goal came as Brentford turned defence in to attack in the blink of an eye. Jensen played a pass that isolated Watkins against Alfie Mawson and the Brentford striker won the battle to come away with the ball, leaving the Fulham defender in a heap. Watkins set up Benrahma and Mbeumo met the cross on the volley, placing it between the legs of Rodák to open the scoring. It was a clinically taken goal and full deserved on the flow of the game.
Fulham tried to respond, and Cyrus Christie headed a corner wide late in the half, but Brentford had command and could have given themselves breathing space before the interval. A header from Henrik Dalsgaard deflected wide and a sweeping move that included a delightful long one-two between Jensen and Watkins ended with Benrahma curling a shot over. But the best chance came on the half hour. Jensen won the ball in Fulham territory and Mbeumo got away from Mawson, he crossed for Watkins, but the striker could only turn the ball against the post on the stretch. Josh Dasilva arrived to pick up the pieces but placed the ball wide of the post with the goal at his mercy from 15 yards.
The second goal Brentford deserved could have come in first half stoppage time. Watkins saw a shot deflected wide after a good run down the left and that enabled Jensen to deliver the next in a line of increasingly impressive corner. This one was met by Pontus Jansson and his header bounced off the inside of the post and in to the arms of the grateful Rodák.
Brentford should have been more than a goal up at the break and started the second half on the front foot. But Fulham then regrouped and started making inroads. The visitors were able to find some space to play through midfield in spells early in the second period and were able to work shooting opportunities. One from Christie was pushed away by Raya and Tom Cairney curled one over. Josh Onomah also fired wide when well-placed, as did Cavaleiro.
Cavaleiro had been Fulham’s main danger in the first half and most of their attacking threat came through him. But Rico Henry coped so well that Fulham moved him inside just past the hour mark and introduced two new wingers as they attempted to get back in to the game. But the better chances were still falling to The Bees and Cavaleiro didn’t make it to the end of the game.
When Watkins fed Dasilva after a quick break, the midfield man got off a shot from 19 yards that fizzed just past the post. Benrahma shot wide from distance after turning well in midfield and Mbeumo saw a curling effort blocked after getting free again. Jensen set up Dasilva for a low shot that was well saved by Rodák and when Brentford recycled the ball there was another opening. This time Benrahma set up Jensen and his cross-cum-shot was saved.
Brentford came within a whisker of extending their lead when Benrahma and Watkins set up a shooting chance for Jensen. The effort stung the palms of Rodák and burst through his hands, the ball hit the post and bounced away when it seemed as if it would end up in the net. Dasilva then had a shot blocked before lining up an effort from slightly further out that Rodák had to scramble across his line to save.
When Benrahma intercepted a pass and set up Watkins, his shot looked set for the bottom corner before Rodák saved again. Jensen got to the loose ball when Benrahma may have been better placed and dragged a shot wide. Mbeumo then got away on the right and on to a Benrahma pass but his shot deflected wide. The resulting corner dropped to Christian Nørgaard, but his shot hit Jansson.
Fulham brought on a trio of attacking players as they chased the game and two almost combined to give them an undeserved leveller. Anthony Knockaert worked a fraction of space to deliver a cross but Bobby Decordova-Reid, arriving in the penalty area, could only flick a header wide of the post. Knockaert, giving Henry a different set of problems on the Brentford left, then delivered a low cross that almost sneaked past Raya, the goalkeeper going down well to save.
Henry was also proving his worth at the other end, a constant menace on the overlap. He got in to the penalty area in the final ten minutes but was unable to pick out Mokotjo with a cut back as Watkins and Mbeumo provided options that were perhaps better at the far post. There was also a late chance after a short corner was worked to Benrahma, but Ethan Pinnock was unable to head in at the far post.
Benrahma had a shot blocked in stoppage time and Fulham were able to break clear but Knockaert wasted the opening by firing high and wide. And that was the last chance gone. Brentford’s defence held firm and The Bees secured their second West London derby win of the season and a fourth home win in a row as they climbed towards the very top of the table.
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Pinnock, Henry; Dasilva (sub Nørgaard 76 mins), Mokotjo, Jensen; Mbeumo (sub Roerslev 86 mins), Watkins, Benrahma
Subs (not used): Daniels, Jeanvier, Sørensen, Thompson, Hammar
Bookings: Dalsgaard (64 mins) (third of season)
Fulham: Rodák; Christie, Ream, Mawson, Bryan; Johansen (sub Kamara 64 mins), Onomah, Cairney; Cavaleiro (sub Decordova-Reid 76 mins), Mitrović, Kebano (sub Knockaert 69 mins)
Subs (not used): Bettinelli, O’Riley, De La Torre, Sessegnon
Bookings: Bryan (12 mins)
Attendance: 12,305 (1,622 away fans)