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18 January 2014

Brentford keep unbeaten Sky Bet League One run going with draw against Walsall

Brentford extended their unbeaten Sky Bet League One run to 15 games with a hard-earned draw against Walsall.

The Bees went ahead slightly against the run of play when Clayton Donaldson headed home on the half hour mark but the home side responded and levelled just before half time.

Both teams had chances to win it after the break and some good chances came and went at both ends but there was to be no more addition to the score.

In the end a 1-1 draw was probably a fair result as both teams took a point from a hard-fought game.

The first 20 minutes of the match offered little in terms of goalmouth action.

Walsall came in to the game on a good run of form, a surge that had pushed them in to the Play-Off places, and they started very well.

They passed the ball well in midfield, moved it quickly and through the lines.

Brentford’s defensive line was much the busier and in midfield The Bees were working hard to slow the hosts down.

Adam Chambers and Sam Mantom, in Walsall’s defensive midfield, saw more of the ball than Brentford’s central players and they helped the home side take control.

They were not, however, able to create many chances.

Andy Taylor sliced a shot from a short corner well wide, Jake Bidwell made a vital headed clearance from a Milan Lalkovic cross and Andy Butler headed wide.

David Button saved long range efforts from Lalkovic and Adam Chambers as Walsall started to turn possession in to territorial advantage.

Brentford had not been completely dominated, when they moved the ball between Marcello Trotta and Will Grigg, in particular, they looked dangerous.

The Bees had not, however, troubled Richard O’Donnell and when they scored on the half hour mark, it was very much against the run of play.

Jonathan Douglas started the charge on the left side and the ball was worked to Bidwell, his cross was perfect for the far post run of Donaldson and he headed home from eight yards.

Brentford looked to build on that and had their best spell of the first half after their goal.

After a long spell of possession an Alan McCormack cross was half cleared and Alan Judged fired in a shot that deflected wide.

Kevin O’Connor missed the target with a header and Donaldson fired over on the turn.

But just when it appeared Brentford had control, and would go in ahead at the break, Walsall equalised.

It came from a corner won by Craig Westcarr that Brentford could not get away.

Tony Craig blocked Butler’s initial effort and Bidwell made a clearance inside his six-yard box but the ball was eventually worked out to James Chambers, his cross was headed back in to the danger zone by Lalkovic and Westcarr nodded home from close range.

O’Connor had to make a block from a Westcarr shot in the dying seconds of the half after more good work by the lively Lalkovic.

Brentford started the second period much better than they started the first.

They probably had the upper hand in the early stages and Walsall were generally playing on the break.

The Bees certainly had the only sights of goal in the opening stages of the second half.

Bidwell curled a free kick over before Donaldson delivered a poor cross when O’Donnell had made a mess of a clearance and Trotta was waiting.

Trotta had a golden chance to put Brentford back in front just before the hour mark when Donaldson raced away from Taylor on the right and put a ball across the penalty area, the Italian striker met it ten yards out but turned it over the bar.

Bidwell fired over after a run forward and Judge missed the target from distance as The Bees pressed.

Lalkovic hit a cross-cum-shot across the face of goal for the hosts and Mantom had a shot blocked.

Trotta missed the target from a Bidwell cross and Mantom shot wide as the game headed in to the final 15 minutes all square but with both sides seeking a winner.

Romaine Sawyers nearly put the hosts in front when he cut in off the left and fired in a shot that Button tipped over and a Butler volley from the resulting corner was blocked.

George Saville, Douglas and McCormack had efforts blocked for The Bees while Lalkovic did likewise for the hosts.

Paul Downing missed a great chance when he headed a corner over when unmarked ten yards out and an acrobatic Mal Benning effort went wide.

Febian Brandy blasted over at the far post for Walsall, after Westcarr had nodded on a Benning cross, and Stuart Dallas almost won it for Brentford with his first touch, he burst in to the box and pulled a left foot shot inches wide.

Neither team could find the winner in the dying stages and the spoils were shared.

Walsall: O’Donnell; J. Chambers (sub Purkiss 82 mins), Downing, Butler, Taylor (sub Benning 65 mins); Mantom, A. Chambers; Brandy, Sawyers (sub Baxendale 87 mins), Lalkovic; Westcarr

Subs (not used): Lewis, Featherstone, Hemmings, Hewitt

Brentford:  Button; McCormack, O’Connor, Craig, Bidwell; Saville, Douglas, Judge (sub Logan 68 mins); Donaldson, Trotta (sub Dallas 88 mins), Grigg (sub Akpom 68 mins)

Subs (not used): Lee, Reeves, Diagouraga, Adams

Bookings: Saville (78 mins) (sixth of season), Craig (90 mins) (fourth of season)

Attendance: 5,295 (1,089 Bees fans)

By Chris Wickham

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