Bees beaten at Molineux
Brentford slipped to their second defeat in three days, a harsh one at Molineux against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
On Boxing Day Brentford found themselves a goal down inside 20 seconds and while their start at Molineux was not of that ilk, they did concede early again.
This time it was seven minutes in when a long ball from Kortney Hause released Nouha Dicko in the inside left channel, with Brentford appealing for offside the striker raced on to lash home.
Brentford reacted far better than against Ipswich Town two days prior, when they conceded twice more before the half hour, and went on to dominate the first half, without levelling it up.
Kevin McDonald scored on the break for Wolves as Brentford continued to hold the upper hand after half time but he was sent off with 13 minutes left.
The Bees poured forward and a cross from Jake Bidwell deflected in to halve the arrears.
Brentford pressed the ten men back but Wolves defended for their lives and got over the line with a win.
The early goal raised the noise level further, tempers were already up with the home fans annoyed by some strange decisions by the officials, in particular an offside from a goal kick, but Brentford felt equally miffed by Dicko’s effort.
The Bees started the game well, attacking when they could and looking to dominate possession.
Wolves were also comfortable on the ball but looked for the direct pass to release the dangerous, speedy Dicko and wide attackers Bakary Sako and Ranjiv van La Parra.
Brentford could have taken the lead before Wolves goal when, following a quick free kick, Jota got away from Richard Stearman and let fly with a shot that Carl Ikeme got down to at full stretch to palm on to the post.
The game went in to a lull after the opener with Brentford dominating posession but the game largely played in the central third.
Alex Pritchard had a sight of goal but shot wide and then, after a move involving six or seven players and dozens of passes, nodded a Moses Odubajo cross wide.
Wolves, however, could have had a second before the half hour when, after a McDonald shot had been deflected for a corner taken short, Sako let fly with an effort that flicked a Brentford player and cannoned in to the crossbar.
Craig blocked another Sako shot and Danny Batth headed a corner wide but Brentford were starting to take control of the game.
Wolves were not able to press as high up the pitch and with the intensity that they could early on and there was space for Brentford’s attacking players.
Pritchard looked set to equalise when Odubajo headed a cross back but hit shot was blocked and, after Jonathan Douglas had cleverly dummied a Craig pass, Jota’s effort forced Stearman in to a last ditch block.
Bidwell looked set to volley home an Odubajo cross but Sako blocked and the resulting corner was desperately cleared after James Tarkowski flicked on.
Ikeme made a fine save to turn a header from defender Dominic Iorfa over his own crossbar and, from the resulting corner, Tarkowski looped a header up and Douglas rose highest but nodded on to the top of the crossbar.
Sako almost grabbed a second for Wolves at the end of the first half with a low free kick that flew through the wall and David Button saved with his legs but Brentford would have gone it at half time knowing they had the initiative.
The game opened out even more after the restart as Brentford chased a leveller and Wolves looked to counter attack.
Douglas forced Ikeme in to an early save with a lofted shot while Sako fired wide at the other end.
Button rushed out to save at the feet of Dicko after the home side broke quickly while Jota had a shot blocked after being found by Douglas.
Tarkowski blocked a van La Parra shot after substitute James Henry had got away down the right but when he escaped again soon after Brentford could not keep it out.
The substitute sped in to space and delivered a cross that van La Parra headed against the crossbar, McDonald arrived to bundle it over the line despite the attentions of Tarkowski and Button.
The goal was officially credited, rather harshly, to Tarkowski.
Brentford tried to respond and Pritchard shot wide but Wolves were hit when McDonald was sent off for a second bookable offence inside the last 15 minutes.
That gave The Bees some momentum and they pushed forward.
An Alan Judge shot was blocked and, from the resulting corner, neither Andre Gray nor Craig could force home Pritchard’s cross.
Ikeme saved from Pritchard and a dangerous Odubajo cross was just ahead of Douglas and Jon Toral as Brentford started to lay siege to the home goal.
Wolves had chance on the break – Sako fired across the face of goal and Henry poked in to the side netting after weaving his way in to the box – but as the minutes ticked down, they sat deeper and deeper, inviting Brentford to attack.
The Bees got their goal when a half cleared corner was recycled, Judge fed Bidwell and his cross hit a defender and looped in.
The official record gave it as a Batth own goal and Bidwell will struggle to claim it as his.
That gave The Bees around ten minutes to salvage a point.
Bidwell’s header was saved by Ikeme and the Wolves goalkeeper then made a fine save low to his left from an Odubajo volley.
Odubajo had a shot blocked and Brentford came within a whisker of getting a point when Gray nodded a Sam Saunders cross against the post.
But the goal wouldn’t come and Brentford ended 2014 with a loss.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Ikeme; Iorfa, Stearman, Batth, Hause; McDonald, Price; van La Parra (sub Clarke 85 mins), Edwards, Sako (sub Doherty 90 mins); Dicko (sub Henry 65 mins)
Subs (not used): Kuszczak, Graham, Evans, Ebanks-Landell
Bookings: McDonald (65 mins)
Sent Off: McDonald (77 mins) (second bookable offence)
Brentford: Button; Odubajo, Tarkowski, Craig, Bidwell; Douglas; Jota (sub Toral 65 mins), Pritchard (sub Saunders 82 mins), Judge, Dallas (sub Diagouraga 65 mins); Gray
Subs (not used): Bonham, Yennaris, Dean, Proschwitz
Bookings: Diagouraga (68 mins) (third of season), Judge (74 mins) (fifth of season)
By Chris Wickham