Brentford's unbeaten run ends
Brentford’s long unbeaten npower League One run was ended by top-of-the-table Tranmere Rovers.
The Bees went in to the match 13 without a league loss and four points and two places behind the Merseyside outfit.
But Rovers scored twice on the counter-attack to take the points at Griffin Park in a physical encounter on a freezing West London afternoon.
There was an exciting start to the top-of-the-table clash, with both teams seeking the early advantage.
Clayton Donaldson saw an early shot blocked while Donervon Daniels headed straight at his own goalkeeper from the resulting corner.
Tony Craig blocked a Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro shot while Jonathan Douglas did likewise from a Danny Holmes effort and Harry Forrester whistled a shot narrowly over the crossbar.
Marcello Trotta forced the first save of the afternoon, when he cut inside and fired in a left footed effort that Owain Fôn Williams tipped over the bar.
And Simon Moore was soon in action at the other end, getting down low to deny Akpa Akpro after he worked his way past Harlee Dean in the inside left channel.
Douglas had a shot blocked and Williams made as fine reaction stop from Donaldson before a Forrester shot hit a defender as it arrowed towards goal.
A fierce Forshaw shot was blocked and Moore got down well to save a drilled cross-cum-shot from Akpa Akpro but the game started to meander towards half time.
Tranmere were content to let Brentford play in front of them and while The Bees had a lot of the ball, they were unable to find a way through the yellow wall.
Forrester and Donaldson were largely contained, though there were some strong challenges made to enable them to do so, and Brentford could not put together their intricate play on the edge of the penalty area to open the visitors up.
And when Tranmere broke minutes before half time, they were ahead.
Jake Bidwell misjudged a high ball and Akpa Akpro got away, he fed David Amoo and as Dean rushed across to try and make a tackle he caught the Tranmere striker.
Referee Darren Deadman awarded a penalty and Andy Robinson stroked it in to the corner of the net to give Rovers a half time lead.
Brentford Manager Uwe Rösler introduced Lee Hodson at half time and changed the shape of his team.
He moved Donaldson up front to partner Trotta and pulled Forshaw and Forrester wide in a more traditional 4-4-2.
And five minutes in to the second half, The Bees were level.
Donaldson won a free kick with a burst down the right that was ended unceremoniously, and illegally, by Liam Palmer, Bidwell delivered to the near post and Dean powered a header in to the bottom corner.
Brentford seemed to have the initiative at that point; they had more of the ball and dominated territory.
But chances were few and far between.
Trotta had half a sight of goal when Forrester and Bidwell combined on the left and the latter delivered a cross but the striker’s header flew across the face of goal.
Tranmere had been almost entirely on the back foot in the second half but struck a sucker punch with 25 minutes remaining.
Adam McGurk found space on the Tranmere right and tricked his way in to the penalty area; he fired a low shot past Moore from a tight angle to restore Rovers’ lead.
Brentford tried to respond – Forrester saw a shot deflect wide and when the resulting corner was half cleared, Dean got in to the box but neither Trotta nor Toumani Diagouraga could find the finish.
The Bees dominated the later stages, looking for a leveller.
Forrester’s shot was blocked by Daniels and when the Brentford wide man combined with Douglas it created a shooting opportunity for Trotta but Tranmere again got as body in the way.
Forrester attempted to challenge for the loose ball as Williams gathered and the resulting melee saw the Tranmere goalkeeper, McGurk and Douglas booked.
Substitute Paul Hayes had a shot deflected wide and then one blocked while Trotta was denied by Daniels and Dean headed wide.
Trotta had another shot blocked as Tranmere threw bodies in the way and Douglas and Dean missed the target from corners.
Cole Stockton almost sealed the game on the break for the visitors but his low shot flew wide.
Sam Saunders thought he had levelled with a curling free kick but Williams made a superb save to his left and from the resulting corner, another Tranmere body blocked a Douglas shot.
There was no lack on endeavour from The Bees but Tranmere bodies got in the way of everything and the visitors defended superbly.
Despite six minutes of stoppage time, and a last gasp Hayes shot that was blocked, Brentford could not find a leveller and were beaten at home for the first time since August.
Brentford: Moore; Logan (sub Hodson h/t), Dean, Craig, Bidwell; Diagouraga (sub Hayes 77 mins), Douglas; Donaldson, Forshaw, Forrester (sub Saunders 77 mins); Trotta
Subs (not used): Lee, Kiernan, Barron, Reeves
Bookings: Dean (42 mins) (fourth of season), Douglas (76 mins) (seventh of season), Bidwell (90 mins) (fourth of season)
Tranmere Rovers: Fôn Williams; Holmes; Taylor, Daniels, Bakayogo; McGurk (sub O’Halloran 82 mins), Palmer, Power, Robinson (sub Bell-Baggie 82 mins); Amoo, Akpa Akpro (sub Stockton 65 mins)
Subs (not used): Mooney, Black, Goodison, Harrison
Bookings: Bakayogo (57 mins), Williams (76 mins), McGurk (76 mins), Power (90 mins)
Attendance: 6,948 (481 away fans)
By Chris Wickham