Donaldson scores twice as Bees pick up home win
Clayton Donaldson scored a brace as Brentford downed high-flying Crawley Town at Griffin Park.
The visitors arrived in TW8 in third place in npower League One but were played off the park for most of the afternoon.
Brentford’s first 25 minutes was among the best periods of play seen for many years and they continued in fine form throughout.
Harry Forrester was like a conductor controlling an orchestra in the first quarter and the rest of the Brentford players played his tune while Crawley stood and admired.
The visitors were simply powerless as Brentford, led by Forrester, took control of the game and set about putting it out of sight early on.
Donaldson put The Bees in front but Crawley were gifted a leveller, converted by Nicky Adams.
But Donaldson, who now has six goals to his credit in 2012/13, won the game inside the final 15 minutes.
Donaldson had an early shot blocked and had the ball in the net when he arrived late to turn in a Forrester cross only to see the flag up for offside.
Another Donaldson header was scrambled away and an Adam Forshaw shot was blocked before Paul Jones produced a wonderful save to keep out a Paul Hayes header.
From the resulting corner, Donaldson’s header look set for the back of the net before it hit Nathan Byrne, cannoned off a post and wide.
Toumani Diagouraga lifted an effort over and goalkeeper Jones turned away a low Shaleum Logan shot before he kept out a Forrester effort and then held on at full stretch to a teasing cross-cum-shot from the same man.
The goal Brentford had been threatening came when Diagouraga created space for Forrester to run in to, his pass was inch perfect for Donaldson to roll the ball past the onrushing Paul Jones and in to the net.
The visitors improved slightly after the goal but Brentford were still well on top going in to half time.
They could have been further ahead – Forrester curled a shot over and then forced Paul Jones in to a low save from a free kick.
When Forrester opened Crawley up again, Forshaw fed the ball across, Donaldson challenged with Kyle McFadzean and the ball rolled inches wide.
Tony Craig headed over before Crawley mustered a couple of attacks, their first since Mike Jones pulled an early shot wide.
Adams shot wide from a tight angle and Gary Alexander headed over but the visitors would have known they were lucky to still be in the game at the break.
Simon Moore made an early saved from a Hope Akpan shot but the game continued in a similar pattern after the break, until Brentford gifted the visitors a goal.
Hayes was unable to head in a Diagouraga cross and the striker then fired wide from the edge of the penalty area.
Paul Jones made a superb save to keep out a Donaldson header and seconds later, Crawley were level.
A ball in behind the Brentford defence forced Logan to face his own goal and under pressure from Jonathan Forte, who was clearly offside but not flagged, the Brentford right back under hit his back pass, Forte nipped in to get there ahead of Moore and Adams scrambled it over the line.
Alexander shot wide and Moore saved from Adams as Crawley found some life and the game was more even for ten minutes after the equaliser.
But Brentford soon regained their poise and went looking for the winner – Forrester missed the target with a header and then forced a save with a powerful near post shot.
Brentford had appeals for a penalty when Byrne made a tackle on Forrester and appeared to control the ball with his hand but referee Michael Naylor waved away the shouts.
Donaldson had a shot blocked but grabbed the game’s crucial goal with 13 minutes remaining.
Dean played a ball forward and Donaldson beat Joe Walsh in a race despite giving the defender a five-yard start, goalkeeper Jones came out but the Brentford striker knocked the ball past the goalkeeper and it dribbled in to the net.
Crawley brought on two additional strikers to go four up front in the last ten minutes and Brentford had to hold firm in the face of some pressure.
They even threw defender McFadzean up in the final stages in an attempt to find a goal.
Moore tipped a Billy Clarke free kick over the top and Akpan headed wide while a Jake Bidwell shot was blocked at the other end.
Brentford were forced to finish with ten men as Farid El Alagui was stretchered off after colliding with Walsh and Paul Jones – the striker left the field with his leg in a brace.
That long delay meant there was more than ten minutes stoppage time in the second half.
Clarke fired a free kick over the top in the last few seconds of that ten minutes and that was Crawley’s last chance gone.
Brentford: Moore; Logan, Dean, Craig, Bidwell; Forshaw (sub O’Connor 84 mins), Diagouraga (sub Adeyemi 76 mins), Douglas, Forrester; Hayes (sub El Alagui 79 mins), Donaldson
Subs (not used): Lee, Legge, Fredericks, Dallas
Crawley Town: P. Jones; Byrne, McFadzean, Walsh, Sadler; M. Jones (sub Ajose 81 mins), Akpan, Simpson, Adams (sub Clarke 81 mins); Alexander, Forte
Subs (not used): Kuipers, Connolly, Torres, Hunt, Bulman
Bookings: Alexander (70 mins)
Attendance: 5,607 (596 away fans)
By Chris Wickham