WALSALL 1 BRENTFORD 0
Ashley Hemmings’s early strike was enough to send ten-man Brentford out of the Capital One Cup at the first round stage for the fourth time in the last five years.
Hemmings’s lashed home from the edge of the box after eight minutes in a game which also saw Brentford play over an hour with ten-men after Jake Reeves was given a straight red mid-way through the first-half.
Despite the man disadvantage Brentford had more of the game and were unlucky not to at least force extra-time.
Brentford started far the brighter and Harry Forrester’s low effort brought the best out of David Grof in the Walsall goal after only two minutes.
Tony Craig then headed over from six yards after he got on the end of Sam Saunders deep free-kick before Jake Reeves was denied by a brilliant block from Richard Taundry when he seemed certain to score.
Brentford fell behind after eight minutes to Walsall’s first foray into Brentford territory. Grigg was released through the middle and although Kevin O’Connor got back to make a terrific saving tackle the ball broke to Hemmings who fired across Simon Moore and into the bottom-right corner.
Despite the setback the Bees continued to have more of the game although Moore had to be alert seven minutes later to turn Grigg’s curling shot around the post.
The game changing moment came in the 24th minute. Jonathan Douglas was caught in possession by Adam Chambers and in his enthusiasm to win the ball back Reeves lunged in over the top and caught the Walsall man on the shin. Referee Andy Woolmer had no hesitation in reaching for the red card.
Florent Cuvelier then almost doubled the lead. Breaking through two challenges on the right edge of the box his low shot was well saved low down by Moore.
As the half wore on the Bees began to get back into the game and David Grof denied Harry Forrester from point blank range following a fine passing move.
Sam Saunders then found himself in the referee’s notebook for a tug on Hemmings as the Walsall man broke away.
The Bees were moving the ball around well despite their numerical disadvantage but were nearly caught out in injury time at the end of the half.
Simon Moore had to be down very sharply to tip Florent Cuvelier’s low-fizzing effort from 30 yards away for a corner. Moments later he was on hand to turn Grigg’s curling effort behind for a corner. From the corner, Douglas bravely threw himself in the way of Fetherstone’s volley to snuff out the danger.
Uwe made one change at half time bringing on Diagouraga for Saunders while he moved Logan across to right back and shifted Tony Craig to left back with Kevin O’Connor going to centre-back.
The Bees almost levelled straight after the break when Harlee Dean strode forward. His effort hit Andy Butler and rebounded to Harry Forrester who picked his spot only to be denied by a flying save from Grof.
Dean and Grigg were then both booked for an off the ball incident as the game began to heat up.
Diagouraga missed a glorious chance to level it for the Bees after 64 minutes firing over from eight yards with the goal gaping after Donaldson had broken down the left.
Ryan Fredericks came on for his debut and almost provided an instant spark. He left Taundry for dead and rolled the ball into Donaldson who worked an opening before seeing his effort saved by Grof at his near post.
The Bees pressed looking for the equaliser and were almost hit with the sucker-punch but Grigg’s effort fizzed just wide of Moore’s right hand post.
The clock ticked down and despite throwing everything at the Walsall defence the Saddlers held firm and progressed through to Round Two.
Brentford: Moore; O’Connor, Craig, Dean, Logan (sub Fredericks 71 mins); Reeves, Douglas, Forrester (sub Forshaw 62 mins), Saunders (sub Diagouraga 46mins); Weston, Donaldson.
Subs not used: Gounet, Dallas, Redwood, Legge.
Bookings: Saunders (36 mins), Dean (62 mins), Fredericks (90 mins)
Walsall: Grof; Taundry, Holden, Butler, Purkiss; Paterson, Featherstone (sub Jones 71 mins), Chambers, Cuvelier, Hemmings (sub Bowerman 68 mins); Grigg (sub Brandy 88 mins).
Subs not used: Walker, Benning, Downing, Baxendale.
Bookings: Hemmings (39 mins), Grigg (63 mins)
Attendance: 2248, 374 away fans
By Ciaran Brett