Wright-Phillips with the winner as Bees win again
Bradley Wright-Phillips’ first goal for Brentford proved to be the winner as The Bees completed an npower League One double over Notts County.
The Bees triumphed 2-1 at Meadow Lane before Christmas and repeated the dose on a chilly Good Friday at Griffin Park.
Although they did not have it all their own way, particularly late on, Brentford deserved the win.
They took the lead when Bartosz Bialkowski inexplicably let a Toumani Diagouraga shot squirm through his grasp and dominated almost exclusively for the first three quarters of the match.
Wright-Phillips doubled the lead with what proved to be the winner and although County pulled one back, and press hard for a leveller, Brentford got over the line.
County had some possession in the first five minutes – and Yoann Arquin volleyed over when a long ball was half cleared – but the game quickly settled in to a pattern.
The visitors lined up with five in midfield and lone striker Arquin isolated up the pitch on his own.
They invited Brentford on to them and The Bees attacked in numbers, getting full backs Shaleum Logan and Jake Bidwell well in to County territory and midfield players in to the penalty area.
The Bees had an intensity in their early play that Notts either could not match or did not try to.
The only surprise was that it took them 20 minutes to break the deadlock.
Wright-Phillips could have scored inside five minutes when he Sam Saunders and Jonathan Douglas combined to create space, the striker darted in to the box and fired in a left foot shot that beat Bialkowski but bounced away off the post.
Tom Adeyemi looped a header over before the midfield man burst in to the box and squared for Clayton Donaldson to fire inches past the far post.
County scrambled away when Tony Craig headed a corner down and, when a free kick was half cleared, Wright-Phillips shot on the turn deflected wide.
Diagouraga had a shot blocked and Douglas saw one deflect wide as Brentford continued to press.
It seemed as if a goal would come but the circumstances were unexpected.
Saunders delivered another corner in to the box that County failed to deal with, Douglas laid it back to Diagouraga and the midfield man fired in a shot that should never have beaten Bialkowski, however, the goalkeeper failed to get his body behind the ball, it slipped through his hands and rolled over the line.
The goal didn’t really alter the pattern of the game; Brentford continued to dominate, although County did get a few more bodies in to advanced areas than they had before.
However, Simon Moore was still a spectator.
Alan Judge shot wide after cutting inside and Alan Sheehan blasted well over as the better chances were still Brentford’s.
Donaldson blasted over after exchanging passes with Wright-Phillips and Douglas headed a Saunders corner wide.
The visitors, although set up in a defensive manner, came to Griffin Park to pass the ball.
They played it around their back line with confidence and at times were able to work the ball around Brentford’s pressing and create openings.
Craig blocked a Neal Bishop volley after Sheehan got away on the left and Brentford goalkeeper Moore had to palm away a Jamal Campbell-Ryce cross-cum-shot.
Brentford should have taken more than a single goal lead in to the half time break but Moore had not made a save of any note.
That changed within 15 seconds of the re-start when Arquin found space on the left but the Brentford goalkeeper saved easily.
The Bees made a slight alteration at half time, moving Wright-Phillips and Saunders in to wide midfield positions and leaving Donaldson as the lone front man.
This meant County had more of the ball in defensive areas but found it harder to pass it around Brentford’s midfield.
The Bees will have felt they still needed a second goal, however.
Douglas shot wide when a Saunders free kick drifted across the box and Wright-Phillips fired wide from the edge of the penalty area when Donaldson was waiting for a pass.
County introduced a second striker – Enoch Showunmi – but that just seemed to give Brentford control of midfield, and therefore the game.
Donaldson had a great chance to double Brentford’s lead when he out-muscled Gary Liddle and was through on goal, the striker took the shot early and Kevin Pilkington – who had come on at half time for the hapless Bialkowski – pushed it away.
Adeyemi had a shot blocked while County were also forced to scramble away a series of corners and Jeff Hughes and Dean Leacock made vital tackles to deny Wright-Phillips and Logan.
With 20 minutes remaining, Brentford had their second.
Donaldson laid the ball in to the path of Adeyemi, who fed Wright-Phillips, the striker strode forward and slotted his first Brentford goal past Pilkington and in off the far post.
But any thoughts the game was won went out of the window within seconds.
The Bees cleared an acrobatic effort from Showunmi but Judge, who set up the first chance, got the ball on the right and ran in to Bidwell
The assistant referee on the New Road side of the ground signalled a foul had been committed and referee Andy D’Urso awarded a penalty.
Campbell-Ryce fired it low to Moore’s left only to see the goalkeeper get down superbly to turn it away; however Judge followed up to smash home the loose ball.
County, all of a sudden, had renewed belief and set about trying to get themselves something from the game.
Craig headed a Leacock effort away inside his six-yard-box and a Showunmi header hit François Zoko and bounced over.
Moore saved a bouncing effort from Judge and Zoko had a shot blocked as County pressed while Donaldson fired in to the side netting when Brentford broke.
County continued to put the pressure on in to stoppage time and Moore had to save bravely at the feet of Showunmi.
That proved to be the visitors’ last chance and, when six minutes of stoppage time had elapsed, Mr D’Urso brought the game to a close and gave The Bees another home win.
Brentford: S. Moore; Logan, Dean, Craig, Bidwell; Adeyemi (sub L. Moore 76 mins) Douglas, Diagouraga; Saunders (sub Forshaw 69 mins); Wright-Phillips (sub Forrester 84 mins), Donaldson
Subs (not used): Gounet, Reeves, Trotta, German
Bookings: Douglas (90 mins) (ninth of season), Logan (90 mins) (seventh of season)
Notts County: Bialkowski (sub Pilkington h/t); Kelly, Liddle, Leacock, Sheehan; Boucaud; Campbell-Ryce (sub Zoko 75 mins), Bishop, Hughes (sub Showunmi 61 mins), Judge; Arquin
Subs (not used): Smith, Thompson, Tempest, Hollis
Bookings: Arquin (25 mins), Sheehan (71 mins)
Attendance: 7,412 (427 away fans)
By Chris Wickham