Strikers bag two each as Bees romp home
Farid El Alagui and Clayton Donaldson scored two each as Brentford picked up their first win of the 2012/13 season.
The Bees were far too good for newly-promoted Crewe Alexandra and the eventual winning margin of 5-1 in no way flattered them.
El Alagui set up the first for Donaldson and then capitalised on a defensive howler to make it two.
El Alagui scored the third in first half stoppage time and although Mathias Pogba pulled a goal back for Crewe just after half time, Harlee Dean headed a fourth and Donaldson completed the scoring with a deflected shot.
There was some delightful football played by The Bees, particularly in the first half hour, and the midfield, with Kevin O’Connor restored to the team and simply superb, swamped the visitors.
Crewe were hardly in the game in the first quarter of the match – the only occasion they even threatened to trouble Simon Moore was when a break down the right created space for AJ Leitch-Smith but his shot was blocked at source.
Brentford poured forward as the rain poured down in the opening 30 minutes and had enough chances to win two or three games.
El Alagui challenged Alan Martin for a Donaldson header and forced the Crewe defence to scramble away and headed a Shaleum Logan cross over while O’Connor had a long range shot blocked.
O’Connor and El Alagui played key roles in Brentford’s opener 13 minutes in – the skipper won the ball in midfield and found Sam Saunders, who fed it down the line, the Moroccan crossed for his strike partner Donaldson to control, spin away from Mark Ellis and fire in off the far post.
Brentford had started well but got better after the goal and with the heavy rain making the surface slick and superb for passing the ball on, they cut Crewe to ribbons.
El Alagui shot wide after good work by Saunders but the striker didn’t have to wait long for his goal.
Adam Dugdale failed to control in the middle of the field and El Alagui latched on to it before slotting home from 20 yards.
Saunders almost made it three with a curling free kick that Martin palmed away and the attacking midfield man also saw a shot deflect wide.
Crewe just about managed to scramble away when Dean headed down in the box and as the rain relented a little and the half time break approached, they grew in to the game.
The weather was starting to affect the playing surface and the ball held up in areas, which helped to stop Brentford’s flowing game.
Byron Moore almost created a goal for Mathias Pogba with a superb cross from the right, only for Logan to clear, and Ellis headed wide from close range soon after.
But Brentford regained control at the end of the half – El Alagui had a goal disallowed for offside but did not have to wait long to double his tally.
Logan exchanged passes with Saunders on the right and crossed, the ball reached El Alagui and the striker placed the ball in to the bottom corner to give Brentford the perfect end to the half.
The start to the second, however, was not as good – Moore sped down the Crewe right and crossed for Pogba to slot home and reduce the arrears.
Brentford retained a measure of control despite Crewe’s strike and set about restoring their three goal cushion.
El Alagui headed a Saunders corer over before Dean missed the target with a similar effort.
A Saunders shot from an El Alagui nod down was blocked and Saunders curled a shot over but as the half wore on it became more even.
Tony Craig made a vital tackle to prevent Moore shooting and Crewe had more ball in Brentford territory as the sun came out and the game entered the final 15 minutes.
The visitors brought on two attacking players to go to four up front for the latter stages and the game opened right up.
Saunders failed to convert a Donaldson cross at the far post while at the other end Moore tipped a deflected effort round the post.
Donaldson had a goal ruled out for offside for The Bees while Leon Legge made a vital clearance inside his six-yard box when a Dugdale header appeared to be going in.
It was Brentford who profited from the open nature of the game – Paul Hayes missed his kick from a corner but when another set piece wasn’t cleared moments later, Saunders delivered for Dean to power a header home and ease any nerves.
Pogba had a shot blocked, as did Murphy and a Harry Bunn effort deflected just wide but Brentford scored their fifth when they broke from a Crewe corner – Forrester lead the charge before Hayes set Donaldson away and the striker cut inside before firing a left foot shot that was probably going in to the far corner but flicked a defender and went in the near side instead.
Martin kept out a low Hayes shot and an O’Connor free kick before Brentford stopper Moore dived low to deny Bunn and ensure it ended 5-1.
Brentford: Moore; Logan, Dean, Craig, Barron (sub Legge 73 mins); Douglas, O’Connor, Diagouraga; Saunders (sub Forrester 85 mins); Donaldson, El Alagui (sub Hayes 68 mins)
Subs (not used): Lee, Fredericks, Redwood, Dallas
Crewe Alexandra: Martin; Davis, Dugdale, Ellis, Robertson (sub Clayton 75 mins); Osman, Murphy, Westwood; Moore, Leitch-Smith (sub Bunn 75 mins), Pogba
Subs (not used): Garratt, Turton, Mellor, Ray, Guthrie
Bookings: Murphy (63 mins)
Attendance: 4,858 (400 away fans)
By Chris Wickham