Second half goals give Brentford win
Second half goals from Clayton Donaldson and George Saville were enough to give Brentford a comfortable home win over Bradford City.
The visitors came to Griffin Park to frustrate and held out until the hour mark but Donaldson fired a low shot home from the edge of the penalty area and Saville made it safe soon after.
Brentford started positively and had Alan Judge playing behind a front two of Donaldson and Will Grigg, enabling The Bees to thread balls forward from better areas.
The pace of Brentford’s front two presented Bradford with a defensive problem and their deep back line allowed the home midfield to move forward.
Alan McCormack and Jake Bidwell, at full back, spent most of the first half in opposition territory as they provided Brentford’s width, flanking the diamond midfield.
Adam Forshaw had an early shot blocked and a cross-cum-shot from Saville was cleared before Judge raced on to a Donaldson flick and had a sight of goal before being crowded out.
The visitors came to frustrate, they effectively played with nine players in defensive areas, offering little support to striker Aaron McLean, and attempted to stop Brentford and break quickly.
Their deep line left little space in behind and they defended the numerous crosses coming in to their penalty area with relative comfort.
However, when The Bees got themselves ahead, they had no answer and there was only one winner.
Donaldson shot wide for The Bees and Saville fired well off target before Judge dragged a shot wide when well-placed.
James Tarkowski looped a header over the bar and then when his pass forward was fed on by Forshaw it presented Saville with a shooting chance but the midfield man fired wide.
Bradford offered almost nothing in attack in the first period – Carl McHugh headed well over when a corner was half cleared and Chris Atkinson shot over after a break.
Saville had a shot blocked late in the first period and Bradford winger Adam Reach had an effort blocked and then fired over as the half ended without either goalkeeper tested.
The Bees moved up a gear after the break, it was immediately apparent they were moving the ball quicker and creating spaces as a result.
They also went back to the 4-3-3 system that had served them well for most of the season, Donaldson and Judge pulling in to the wider attacking positions.
Grigg had a good chance early in the second half when he met a Judge cross but he bounced his effort wide of the far post before Saville shot wide from distance.
Donaldson headed a Forshaw free kick wide and from a McCormack delivery, Stephen Darby’s clearance went just wide of his own post.
On a rare Bradford attack, a Rory McArdle header was blocked and Atkinson shot the loose ball wide.
But Brentford had the upper hand and were pressing for the opening goal.
Tony Craig almost got it when a corner reached him on the far side but his effort was blocked.
Brentford, however, did not have to wait much longer.
The goal, when it arrived, came out of nothing – Donaldson moved in off the right and fired a low left foot shot in the bottom corner past Jon McLaughlin.
That was the striker’s 50th Brentford goal and his 51st should have followed within minutes.
Donaldson flicked a ball on to substitute Marcello Trotta and then, when the ball came back across, fired it over from close range.
Brentford grew in confidence after taking the lead and the one-touch flicks and smart lay-offs that have been seen regularly this campaign were on show again.
Jonathan Douglas’ looping header from a McCormack cross hit the bar and McLaughlin recovered to save the follow-up from Bidwell.
Judge and Saville both fired over from distance and substitute Jake Reeves forced McLaughlin in to a save after his first shot was blocked.
David Button saved a McHugh header on a rare Bradford attack and 15 minutes from the end Brentford had their second, and breathing space.
After interplay between Trotta and Judge on the edge of the penalty area, Saville let fly with a shot, he didn’t make the best connection but it bobbled through a crowd of legs and ended up in the bottom corner.
The Bees then went searching for more goals.
A Judge cross just eluded Reeves and when Bradford failed to clear, Judge had a shot blocked and Saville blasted over.
Button made a low save from a Gary Jones shot and a McArdle header was cleared inside the six-yard box but most of the action was at the other end.
McLaughlin saved at the feet of Trotta and the goalkeeper then produced a memorable save to prevent Brentford scoring one of the goals of the season.
Reeves started the move, winning the ball in midfield and then spread the ball to the left, Judge accelerated on to it and hit a first time cross that Saville met with a flying header, McLaughlin somehow kept it out and the loose ball bobbled wide.
Trotta had a low shot saved as did Reeves and then Judge.
Even in stoppage time Brentford were throwing men forward looking for goals.
Judge miss-hit a shot from the edge of the box and then fired over late on as Brentford were forced to settle for a 2-0 win.
Brentford: Button; McCormack, Tarkowski, Craig, Bidwell; Forshaw (sub Reeves 63 mins), Douglas, Saville; Judge; Donaldson (sub Dallas 86 mins), Grigg (sub Trotta 66 mins)
Subs (not used): Lee, O’Connor, Yennaris, Fillo
Bradford City: McLaughlin; Darby, McArdle, McHugh (sub Drury 84 mins), Bates; Bennett, Jones, Doyle, Reach; Atkinson (sub Gray 71 mins); McLean (sub McBurnie 84 mins)
Subs (not used): Jameson, Thompson, Yeates, Stockdill
Bookings: Jones (90 mins), Drury (90 mins)
Attendance: 8,063 (958 away fans)
By Chris Wickham