Brentford lose to Wolverhampton Wanderers in top-of-the-table clash
Brentford’s unbeaten Sky Bet League One run, which stretched back more than four months, was brought to an end by fellow promotion challenges Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The visitors struck at the end of the first half, against the run of play, and then doubled that lead with a goal on the counter-attack in the second half.
They sealed a slightly unjust 3-0 win as Michael Jacobs scored his second of the afternoon, firing in from 25 yards late on.
As was to be expected with two of the leading teams in League One in action, most of the first half was very even.
Both teams looked to attack but with two well-drilled defences and a congested midfield area, there was not a great deal of room to play and good chances were at a premium.
The best chance in the opening half hour fell to Wolves in the shape of Nouha Dicko.
He sprung Brentford’s offside trap to get on to a Bakary Sako pass and David Button rushed out quickly to save at his feet, Jacobs looked set to pick up the loose ball but Tony Craig got back with a recovery tackle.
That looked as if it would be the best opening for the first half before Wolves struck at the death.
They had come close when Sako broke away and James Henry looked set to score before Jonathan Douglas got back to make a superb recovery tackle.
And from the resulting throw in, they scored.
The ball was worked from Kevin McDonald to Henry and he lifted an effort that looked more cross than shot but floated in to the far corner.
While the visitors may have had the lead, they could not claim to have had the better of the first period.
Brentford probably dominated territory, pushing Wolves back and forcing mistakes.
The Bees retained possession better than their visitors and got their full backs in to better attacking areas without quite being able to create a killer chance.
Adam Forshaw fired wide when well-placed early on before George Saville had a shot blocked while at the other end, Dicko volleyed wide and Button pushed a low shot from Sako around the post.
Button saved again from Dicko after Forshaw was robbed in midfield and then denied Sako.
Brentford took control of the game as half time approached and had chances to break the deadlock before the break.
Douglas had a shot deflected over and then a header from the resulting corner blocked before Harlee Dean failed to connect with the third delivery in to the penalty area.
Brentford’s best chance of the first half was a 25-yard shot from Alan Judge that goalkeeper Carl Ikeme turned away high to his right.
Wolves started the second half well as Brentford took ten minutes to get in to their stride.
The visitors, helped by a referee – Iain Williamson – who seemed to give them more than their fair share of the 50/50 decisions, had chances to give themselves breathing space.
Sako fired a free kick in to a wall and Danny Batth headed just over.
But Brentford pushed Wolves back for long stages of the second half.
They came up against a well-organised back four that made few, if any, mistakes and chances were at a premium.
Judge was just unable to connect on the volley to a Douglas pass before Forshaw shot deflected just wide and a Clayton Donaldson header was blocked and gathered by Ikeme.
Judge fired a 30-yard shot a whisker wide before setting up Jake Bidwell to shoot over.
Jacobs forced Button to make a low save after a burst in to the box but made no mistake moments later.
Wolves broke and Sako played a ball from the left channel in to the path of Jacobs, he raced forward and slotted the ball under Button to make the game safe.
Dicko could have made it three when he raced clear but he made a poor connection with his shot.
Saville fired over at the other end but Jacobs ended any hopes Brentford had by curling a shot past the outstretched arm of Button and in to the top corner from 25 yards with five minutes remaining.
Substitute Will Grigg could have reduced the arrears but his powerful shot from 15 yards was tipped away by Ikeme and Marcello Trotta had a late shot blocked.
Brentford continued to press but couldn’t find a goal and Wolves took the points.
Brentford: Button; McCormack, Dean, Craig, Bidwell; Forshaw, Douglas, Saville (sub Grigg 86 mins); Donaldson, Trotta, Judge
Subs (not used): Lee, Yennaris, Tarkowski, O’Connor, Dallas, Reeves
Bookings: Judge (40 mins) (second of season), Trotta (65 mins) (fourth of season)
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Ikeme; Ricketts, Batth, Stearman, Golbourne; McDonald (sub Davis 86 mins), Price; Henry (sub Edwards 73 mins), Jacobs, Sako; Dicko (sub McAlinden 85 mins)
Subs (not used): McCarey, Doherty, Evans, Ebanks-Landell
Bookings: Henry (40 mins)
Attendance: 11,309 (1,600 away fans)
By Chris Wickham