No goals at Griffin Park
Ten-man Brentford were held to a draw on a hot afternoon at Griffin Park by Carlisle United.
The visitors came for a point and didn’t alter their plans when Tony Craig was sent off in the second half.
They got what they came for thanks to some desperate defending and questionable refereeing.
Brentford dominated for long stages but Carlisle’s defensive outlook made them hard to break down and the home side had to settle for a point.
Both teams started the match with three men in the centre of midfield and this left little space.
The visitors pressed high up the pitch, particularly on Brentford’s full backs, which made it difficult for The Bees to play out.
Brentford played slightly longer, especially in the early stages, and tried to turn Carlisle’s defence.
It worked often, with Clayton Donaldson and Farid El Alagui able to get the ball in dangerous areas, but the midfield players were forced to make late runs in to the box and Carlisle’s massed ranks were usually back quickly.
There were few chances in the early exchanges, Donaldson had a header blocked and Adam Forshaw shot wide before right back Brad Potts had to make an important intervention when the two combined beautifully on the edge of the penalty area.
A Sam Saunders free kick created a headed chance for Craig which referee Dave Phillips decided the central defender had nodded wide when it appeared to almost everyone in the ground that his effort had hit a defender.
Mr Phillips had angered both sets of players by half time, issuing four yellow cards and awarding free kicks when contact looked minimal but letting other offences go.
Lee Miller, who were perhaps fortunate to stay on for a foul on Craig having already been booked for a tackle on Harlee Dean that may have been a red card on another day, had a header blocked for the visitors and blasted over from distance while El Alagui headed an Alan McCormack cross wide at the other end after good work by Donaldson.
Carlisle goalkeeper Mark Gillespie made a fine save from a fierce Scott Barron shot after Donaldson and Saunders had combined and neither Dean nor El Alagui could turn in a low Saunders free kick soon after.
Troy Archibald-Henville headed wide for the visitors and Danny Livesey saw an effort blocked before Donaldson headed wide seconds before half time.
Brentford would have felt they had been the better team, and certainly the more positive, in the first half but they had not created enough with their possession.
They started to create more in the early stages of the second half with Will Grigg replacing El Alagui as the focal point of the attack.
Craig had a header blocked and then couldn’t turn in a Donaldson knock down following a short corner.
Barron had a shot blocked and Gillespie held on to a Grigg header.
Carlisle were getting deeper and deeper, content to hold on to what they had and play long balls up to Miller and work off him.
They almost snatched the lead when a Matty Robson free kick flew through a crowd of bodies, flicked a leg and was heading for the top corner before David Button turned it away.
That was, however, merely respite for the visitors.
Grigg screwed a shot wide from a Forshaw pass, Gillespie palmed away a Forshaw shot and the midfield man then had an effort blocked.
But Brentford’s game plan was severely hit when Craig was sent off with 27 minutes remaining.
David Amoo robbed Barron on the right and got away from the defender, Craig brought him down and Mr Phillips decided the striker had a clear goal scoring opportunity with 20 yards to the target and defenders in close attention.
He sent Craig off and Brentford had to reshuffle with Jake Reeves coming on in midfield and McCormack slotting in to centre back.
Josh Gillies hit the wall with the resulting free kick and the game didn’t particularly alter.
Brentford kept playing on the front foot while Carlisle were content to hit The Bees on the break.
Reeves shot wide for The Bees and then curled a free kick over when another Carlisle foul, and there were no shortage, was punished 19 yards out.
Brentford had the ball in the net with ten to play when a Forshaw corner was nodded down by Dean, Donaldson created a nuisance and Toumani Diagouraga bundled it in but Mr Phillips, by now the most unpopular man inside Griffin Park, decided a foul had been committed, though it was not clear by whom.
Donaldson thought he had scored moments later when a Shaleum Logan cross reached him ten yards out but his powerful shot was remarkably blocked by Livesey.
Lewis Guy had a shot blocked for Carlisle but almost all the action was at the other end – a Forshaw shot deflected wide and Reeves fired over after cutting inside.
Brentford kept pushing but the goal wouldn’t come and they had to settle for a point.
Brentford: Button; Logan, Dean, Craig, Bidwell; Forshaw, McCormack, Saville (sub Diagouraga 75 mins); Donaldson, El Alagui (sub Grigg h/t), Saunders (sub Reeves 67 mins)
Subs (not used): Bonham, O’Connor, Fillo, Dallas
Bookings: Saville (30 mins), McCormack (83 mins)
Sent Off: Craig (63 mins)
Carlisle United: Gillespie; Potts, Archibald-Henville, Livesey, Black (sub Gillies 34 mins); Berrett, Thirlwell, Noble (sub Guy 73 mins); Amoo, Miller (sub Beck 87 mins), Robson
Subs (not used): Fleming, Feely, Symington, Lynch
Bookings: Miller (18 mins), Thirlwell (21 mins), Amoo (40 mins), Livesey (70 mins), Archibald-Henville (77 mins)
Attendance: 6,035 (325 away fans)
By Chris Wickham