Tommy Smith rescues late point for BrentfordTommy Smith scored within seven minutes of his debut to earn Brentford a deserved point from their opening Sky Bet Championship game against Charlton Athletic at Griffin Park.
The 34-year-old, signed on Thursday, fired home from close range with five minutes remaining to secure a deserved share of the spoils for Mark Warburton’s side.
The Addicks had taken the lead midway through the second half when Igor Vetokele bundled home Johnnie Jackson’s corner kick from close range.
The Bees lined up with Jonathan Douglas at the base of the midfield with Alex Pritchard and Alan Judge ahead of him.
Stuart Dallas and summer signing Moses Odubajo occupied the wide roles either side of another summer arrival Andre Gray.
It was the hosts, cheered on by their largest opening day attendance in 40 years, who dominated the early stages of the contest.
With Pritchard and Judge given the freedom to roam The Bees were, at times, playing with four men behind Gray and they pinned Charlton back in the early stages.
Pritchard sent an arching shot just wide of Stephen Henderson’s far post after good spell of Bees possession and pressure down left side.
The Tottenham loanee then saw a shot bravely blocked by Andre Bikey before The Bees broke but Judge played the ball to the left as the runners in front went left.
A great spell of one-touch football tight to the touchline between Odubajo and Pritchard culminated in the former Leyton Orient man shooting weakly at Henderson.
Slowly though as the half went on The Addicks got back into the game as their counter-attacking style started to bear fruit.
James Tarkowski made a brave block to deny Yoni Buyens before the visitors passed up a golden chance to take the lead midway through the half as George Tucudean stole through the Brentford defence but David Button stood up well and made a fine block save.
Johnnie Jackson pulled a shot wide from 25 yards while, at the other end, Judge forced Henderson into a fine flying save with a rasping drive from distance.
Jonathan Douglas was then inches away from turning home Dallas’ perfect centre but the two sides went into the break level.
The Bees made one change at half time with Marcos Tébar replacing Odubajo meaning a move to the wing for Pritchard.
It was the visitors who dominated the early stages second-half not allowing Brentford the time and space they have afforded them in the opening stages of the first period.
Vetokele forced Button into a smart low save from the 20 yards before the rebound from Jordan Cousins was blocked by Jake Bidwell.
If Button’s first save from Vetokele had been routine, his second, to deny him four minutes later, was outstanding, as he turned the striker’s point blank header onto the post from six yards with Tucudean then blasting the rebound into the top tier of Brook Road from 12 yards.
Brentford’s only real chance of the opening stages of the second-half came as Henderson made a good low save to deny Gray from eight yards after the former Luton man had met Pritchard’s deep centre.
Button had won the early rounds of his duel against Vetokele but the former FC Copenhagen striker wasn’t to be denied on 64 minutes as he bundled home Jackson’s inswinging corner from right on the goal-line.
It could have got worse for Brentford three minutes later as Rhoys Wiggins fierce drive arrowed narrowly over the crossbar from 20 yards with Button beaten.
Brentford replaced Gray with Nick Proschwitz midway through the half and he nearly had an instant impact as he won a corner which was volleyed over from eight yards by Tony Craig before he saw a shot deflected behind
The Addicks should have wrapped the game up with ten minutes to go as Tommy Smith’s underhit backpass was pounced upon by Vetokele and, with Button out of his goal, he squared the ball to Callum Harriot who hit the bar from 25 yards and Tebar got back in to poke the ball away as Harriot went to tap into an empty net.
They were made to pay for that miss with five minutes to go as a spell of intense Bees pressure was rewarded when Smith cut in from the left and fired, via the aid of a deflection, past Henderson from 12 yards to level things up.
That goal set-up a barnstorming finish in front of a raucous Griffin Park as Judge thundered a free-kick from 25 yards against the bar and, in stoppage time, Smith had the chance to grab all the headlines but he shot over from the edge of the box.
In the end however both sides had to settle for a point from a hotly contested London derby.
Brentford:- Button; McCormack, Tarkowski, Craig, Bidwell; Judge, Douglas, Pritchard (sub Smith 78 mins); Odubajo (sub Tebar 46 mins), Gray (sub Proschwitz 66 mins), Dallas
Subs not used:- Lee, Dean, Yennaris, Moore
Goals: Smith 85.
Charlton Athletic:- Henderson; Solly, Wiggins, Bikey, Ben-Haim; Gudmundson (sub Fox 90+1), Buyens, Jackson, Cousins (sub Moussa 90+1 mins); Vetokele, Tucudean (sub Harriot 62 mins)
Subs:- Pope, Morrison, Piggott, Wilson
Goals: Vetokele 64.