Second half goals give Brentford Sky Bet League One win over Tranmere Rovers
James Tarkowski’s first goal for Brentford set The Bees on their way to their second home win in four days.
After beating Bradford City with two second half goals on Saturday, Brentford repeated the trick against Tranmere Rovers on Tuesday night.
Tarkowski headed home the first just past the hour mark and Clayton Donaldson sealed the win from close range soon after.
The game started at a frantic pace and Brentford could have been a couple of goals ahead inside the first ten minutes.
George Saville sliced a shot side from a corner inside the first 30 seconds and Jake Bidwell, who delivered that set piece, then fired wide when a shot free kick was worked to him 20 yards from goal on the right side.
Will Grigg had a golden opportunity to put The Bees in front when he robbed Ash Taylor, he was left with only Owain Fon Williams to beat but the goalkeeper kept out his low shot and right back Danny Holmes was in the right place to clear Alan Judge’s follow-up off the line.
Brentford started with the diamond midfield formation that they used in the first half of the win over Bradford.
Judge was in behind the front pair of Grigg and Donaldson and he combined effectively with Saville, Jonathan Douglas and Jake Reeves to pull the strings for The Bees.
Tranmere had five men in midfield and pace on the flanks.
They sat deep to try and make themselves difficult to break down and then looked to counter attack quickly.
Brentford’s system left them with a slight lack of cover in wide areas and Tranmere looked to exploit it, on their right especially.
They showed some attacking intent when they could get men forward quickly and looked to get bodies in to the box at set pieces.
Steven Jennings had a shot blocked from a half cleared corner and when Tarkowski failed to get a good connection on a defensive header, David Button made himself big to deny Ryan Lowe.
Lowe went close again soon after, cutting inside and firing a shot that clipped the top of the crossbar and flew over.
James Wallace shot wide for the visitors but Brentford soon regained control.
They were dominating possession and territory and starting to create chances.
A low Donaldson shot was saved and Fon Williams then held on to a Grigg header.
The goalkeeper was becoming the game’s key figure – he saved high to his right to deny Donaldson and then got down to the same side to keep out a low Grigg shot.
Bidwell shot wide after a run from deep and Douglas headed wide from a corner before Tranmere went close again at the other end.
Stephen Arthurworrey met a Jason Koumas corner with a powerful downward header than skipped up off the turf and hit the crossbar.
Having twice been rescued by the woodwork, Brentford ended the first half strongly.
Judge shot over the bar after a run from deep before delivering a cross that Donaldson nodded inches wide.
The last action of the first 45 saw Bidwell deliver a free kick from the left that Tarkowski met with a powerful header, forcing Fon Williams to tip it on to a post before his defenders were able to clear.
The first half had been played at a ferocious pace and the second didn’t let up.
An early Donaldson shot was deflected wide and at the other end Jason Brown met a Lowe cross and turned it inches past the post.
Liam Ridehalgh had a shot blocked for the visitors, who were happy to get men forward when they had good possession, and Fon Williams turned away a Judge free kick at the other end.
The goalkeeper then tipped away a swerving Reeves shot.
Brentford finally broke through just past the hour mark when Bidwell delivered a free kick from the left and Tarkowski rose highest to power a header in to the bottom corner.
The Bees introduced Adam Forshaw and Marcello Trotta for the final 25 minutes and switched to the 4-3-3 system they had played for much of the campaign.
With the boost of a goal, Brentford moved through the gears and played some fine football in the later stages.
Donaldson cut inside and fired a shot against a post before Trotta shot narrowly wide from the edge of the box and as the game entered the final 15 minutes, Brentford scored their second.
Forshaw twisted and turned on half way before finding Douglas, his pass released Trotta and he, in turn, fed Judge, the far post cross was headed home by Donaldson from close range.
The game was effectively over at that point and Brentford sought more goals.
Fon Williams kept out a Judge cross-cum-shot after Tony Craig had run from deep and Donaldson was unable to turn the loose ball home.
Donaldson should have made it three when he shot over from close range after a Trotta shot was blocked and the striker was then denied by Fon Williams after substitute Charlie Adams had split the Tranmere defence and set him through one-on-one.
Substitute Cole Stockton forced Button in to a low save on a rare Tranmere attack while Alan McCormack had a shot blocked at the other end.
A Trotta shot deflected over and he then had one blocked before McCormack blasted over in stoppage time.
The Bees were unable to add to their two goals but that was enough to give them the win.
Brentford: Button; McCormack, Tarkowski, Craig, Bidwell; Reeves, Douglas, Saville (sub Forshaw 65 mins); Judge (sub Adams 84 mins); Donaldson, Grigg (sub Trotta 65 mins)
Subs (not used): Lee, Yennaris, O’Connor, Dallas
Bookings: McCormack (38 mins) (sixth of season), Tarkowski (79 mins) (eighth of season)
Tranmere Rovers: Fon Williams; Holmes, Taylor, Arthurworrey, Ridehalgh; Jennings; Cassidy (sub Stockton 88 mins), Wallace, Koumas, Brown (sub Robinson 72 mins); Lowe
Subs (not used): Mooney, Goodison, Kirby, Power, Morris
Bookings: Wallace (25 mins), Cassidy (61 mins)
Attendance: 5,646 (175 away fans)
By Chris Wickham