Bees pick up home win
Clayton Donaldson’s first half header gave Brentford their third straight home win.
The Bees had the better of it against a well-drilled and combative Walsall side.
But on a wet and wild afternoon, Brentford had more threat in front of goal.
They deserved to be ahead at the break and although the visitors never stopped pressing for a goal, David Button was only called in to action a few times to ensure The Bees got the win to follow the League One win over Sheffield United and the Capital One Cup victory over Dagenham and Redbridge.
Brentford plans were affected inside the first five minutes when Conor McAleny suffered an injury.
The attacker had a shot blocked by Adam Chambers and went down on the edge of the penalty area.
After lengthy treatment he had to be taken off on a stretcher and Farid El Alagui came on.
The Bees switched from their starting 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 with Martin Fillo and Adam Forshaw wide and El Alagui partnering Donaldson in attack.
Brentford responded well to the change and could have been in front when El Alagui’s cross was met by Donaldson but his effort was blocked by Andy Butler, Forshaw’s follow-up was arrowing in to the net before it hit Paul Downing.
Donaldson looked set to meet a Shaleum Logan cross but went down under pressure from Butler, referee Mark Haywood decided no offence had been committed.
George Saville shot over for The Bees as they continued to hold the upper hand while Walsall had shown they could break forward quickly and effectively but had yet to turn it in to anything.
The visitors had their first sight of goal just past the midway point of the first half when James Baxendale broke free on the left and his cut back reached Craig Westcarr on the edge of the penalty area, the striker bounced his shot wide of Button’s right hand post.
Brentford continued to hold the upper hand and had the majority of the play – Forshaw fired in a shot that dipped, swerved and beat Richard O’Donnell in the Walsall goal all ends up but bounced away off the crossbar and over.
Donaldson headed wide for The Bees while at the other end a Milan Lalkovic shot deflected wide and Sam Mantom sliced a shot from the resulting corner.
Brentford got the goal their first half play deserved when, after a period of possession, the ball was worked out to Shaleum Logan, he cut inside and crossed with his left foot for Donaldson, who had pulled off his defender, to power a header in to the bottom corner.
The striker could have made it two when he met another Logan cross soon after but headed wide from close range while at the other end a Lalkovic shot flew in to the grateful arms of Button.
Walsall pressed forward more after half time, needing a goal to take something from the game, while Brentford reverted to 4-3-3 to try and take control of the midfield.
Lalkovic had a shot blocked before Button saved well from Westcarr and James Chambers fired the loose ball over.
Brentford could have doubled their lead when El Alagui sprung the offside trap and got on to a Scott Barron pass, he rounded the onrushing O’Donnell but Butler recovered to divert the shot wide.
Baxendale shot over from a tight angle for Walsall while O’Donnell made a fine low save at the other end from Donaldson after good work by Fillo and Saville.
Harlee Dean, who was a colossus at the heart of the Brentford defence, made a superb block from Romaine Sawyers after he exchanged passes with Westcarr, while Donaldson had an effort saved by O’Donnell.
Brentford were pressing for a second goal that would give them breathing space in the final stages and came close to getting it.
Logan cut inside and shot over, Sam Saunders had an effort blocked and O’Donnell made a fine save from a fierce Forshaw drive.
But Walsall only had one goal to find and almost snatched an equaliser that would have been mightily unjust.
Saunders was shoved over by Sam Mantom but Mr Haywood allowed play to go on, Lalkovic crossed from the left and Westcarr met it with his chest but Button got down low to keep it out
Saville blocked when Westcarr met a James McQuilkin corner and the provider of that chance shot wide soon after.
Westcarr had an effort blocked in the dying stages but Brentford had done enough to take the points.
Brentford: Button; Logan, Dean, Craig, Barron; Forshaw, McCormack, Saville; Fillo (sub Reeves 74 mins), Donaldson, McAleny (sub El Alagui 10 mins (sub Saunders 68 mins))
Subs (not used): Bonham, O’Connor, Venta, Diagouraga
Bookings: Dean (64 min)
Walsall: O’Donnell; J. Chambers, Downing, Butler, Benning; A. Chambers (sub Featherstone 75 mins), Mantom; Baxendale (sub McQuilkin 81 mins), Westcarr, Hemmings (sub Sawyers 65 mins); Lalkovic
Subs (not used): Roberts, Purkiss, Holden, Hewitt
Bookings: Benning (23 mins)
Attendance: 5,781 (340 away fans)
By Chris Wickham