Alan Judge brace sets Brentford on path to Sky Bet League One win over Notts County
Alan Judge scored twice against his former club as Brentford made it 15 wins from their last 16 matches at Griffin Park with a comfortable win over Notts County.
The eventual 3-1 win was the least Brentford deserved.
They dominated the match when County had ten and then pummelled them for long periods after Adam Forshaw had put The Bees ahead from the penalty spot.
Haydn Hollis was sent off for bringing down Clayton Donaldson and conceding the penalty and there was no way back.
Judge, who spent three years at County, scored either side of half time and although the visitors got a goal back, the result was never in doubt.
The game started in the way of many others in recent weeks, Brentford dominating territory and possession, playing on the front foot.
They were up against a side playing a deep midfield four in front of a defensive four and while their wide players were nominally attacking outlets, they did not venture forward unless it was an attempt to break when Brentford had committed men forward.
Their only real spell in Brentford’s penalty area in the first half hour was when a long throw was half cleared and Jonathan Douglas blocked a James Spencer volley.
It probably took Brentford about ten minutes to get in to their stride and for Toumani Diagouraga and Forshaw to start to influence the game in attacking areas.
When they did, Brentford started to create openings, albeit many of them were shots from distance.
Their first chance came from a short corner; Forshaw delivered a ball that just eluded James Tarkowski and Stuart Dallas.
Dallas almost got in soon after when he latched on to a Donaldson lay off but his low shot deflected wide.
From the resulting corner, Tony Craig headed back across, Tarkowski miss-hit a shot and Douglas’ header was saved.
Dallas volleyed wide and Bartosz Bialkowski in the County goal made two low saves from Judge efforts.
Donaldson headed a Judge corner wide soon after but after 31 minutes of knocking, the Notts County door opened.
A long ball from Craig opened them up and Donaldson raced in behind, he was brought down by Haydn Hollis as he prepared to shoot and referee Charles Breakspear had no option but to award a penalty and send the defender off.
Forshaw stepped up and slotted the penalty low to Bialkowski’s right as the goalkeeper dived in the opposite direction.
County’s reaction to losing a goal and a defender was to bring on another defender and they changed their system from what was, effectively, 8-0-2 with 8-0-1.
Brentford went looking for the goals to kill the game off.
Diagouraga smashed well wide when well-placed before Judge cut inside and, with men waiting for a pass, blasted off target.
Judge also turned an effort wide at the far post after good work by Dallas and Donaldson and The Bees looked to have a good shout for a second penalty turned down by Mr Breakspear when Donaldson appeared to be bundled over by Nathan Tyson.
The Bees got their second goal two minutes before the break when Alan McCormack burst forward in to a gaping hole in the County midfield, he slipped a pass through to Judge, completely unmarked as Hayden Mullins fell over, and the attacking midfield player slotted it home.
McCormack could have made it three before the break with a low shot that Bialkowski got down well to keep out.
But when half time came, it only delayed Brentford’s march, rather than stopping it.
County did go more attacking in the second half, replacing right back Mustapha Dumbuya with attack-minded Jack Grealish but they were second best all over the pitch and fighting a losing battle.
Brentford’s third came six minutes in to the second half when Diagouraga wriggled free in the penalty area, his first shot was blocked and second saved but Judge was waiting and pounced to smash home and get his second of the afternoon.
County almost pulled one back with an Alan Sheehan free kick that David Button saved to his right and the goalkeeper then saved a weak Spencer shot but all the action was at the other end.
It was almost four when, following a break from a County corner, Dallas intercepted a Jamal Campbell-Ryce back pass, he rounded Bialkowski but ran wide so fed the ball back in, Judge’s low shot was well saved by the visiting goalkeeper.
Jake Bidwell had a shot blocked and then, after a moving that also involved Diagouraga and Dallas, Forshaw was just unable to get on to a Douglas pass.
Bialkowski tipped a cross-cum-shot from Bidwell away from the top corner and the goalkeeper then saved a Douglas header before McCormack lashed over.
Gary Liddle should have pulled one back for County when a free kick dropped to him 12 yards out but he fired well over.
Bidwell fired wide after a run forward before Bialkowski made a fine save to prevent Mullins turning a Dallas cross in to his own net.
County did get one back with six minutes to go when Spencer got in behind on to a long ball and lifted the ball over Button and in to the net.
Diagouraga headed wide and Sheehan fired a free kick well over at the other end.
Bialkowski saved low from George Saville late on and then got down well to keep out a firmer effort from the same man soon after.
Spencer fired over from distance late on for County and Judge could have had his hat-trick in the dying seconds when he got on to a Harlee Dean pass and wriggled free but Bialkowski saved at his feet.
Judge, named Man of the Match, was not, however, to be denied the key role and Brentford were not to be denied the win.
Brentford: Button; McCormack, Tarkowski (sub Dean 56 mins), Craig, Bidwell; Diagouraga, Douglas, Forshaw (sub Saville 59 mins); Dallas, Donaldson (sub Grigg 70 mins), Judge
Subs (not used): Bonham, Yennaris Reeves Trotta
Bookings: Saville (64 mins) (ninth of season), Dean (87 mins) (ninth of season)
Notts County: Bialkowski; Dumbuya (sub Grealish h/t), Mullins, Hollis, Sheehan; Campbell-Ryce, Vela, Liddle, Tyson; Murray (sub Leacock 34 mins), Spencer
Subs (not used): Spiess, McGregor, Thompson, Boucaud, Dixon
Bookings: Leacock (67 mins)
Sent Off: Hollis (31 mins)
Attendance: 8,188 (518 away fans)
By Chris Wickham