Bees lose to second half goals
Three goals in 15 second half minutes gave Norwich City a 3-0 victory against Brentford at Griffin Park.
Strikes from Alexander Tettey and Cameron Jerome, who got two, gave the visitors the points, albeit with a flattering score line.
Brentford had much the better of the first half and Norwich were indebted to goalkeeper John Ruddy, who kept them in the game.
The Bees were unable to score when they were on top and Norwich hit them in the second half.
Brentford showed they could compete with the best in the division, and Norwich ended the night top of the Sky Bet Championship, but ultimately came away with nothing except a very unjust score line.
Norwich started the game positively.
They came with a clear attacking intent, playing two central strikers and attacking wingers with a central midfield duo pressed on and full backs looking to play in attacking areas as well.
Brentford utilised Moses Odubajo at right back and Alan McCormack in midfield, which gave them more pace in wide areas and more steel in the centre.,
It almost paid immediate dividends when Odubajo got to the by-line and crossed but Alex Pritchard headed wide.
Norwich had the territorial advantage and more of the ball in the opening 20 minutes but their only real openings came from corners.
Nathan Redmond delivered one that Michael Turner flicked on but Jerome couldn’t convert.
And soon after Redmond delivered again, Turner flicked on again and this time the ball was scrambled clear.
Brentford came close to taking the lead just past the quarter hour when a McCormack shot was blocked, Stuart Dallas delivered the loose ball across the penalty area and Andre Gray was just unable to turn it in.
As the game entered its second quarter any early tentativeness had gone, tackles were flying in and the Griffin Park crowd were playing their part in an absorbing game, albeit one with few good chances.
David Button easily saved a Bradley Johnson effort after a free kick was half cleared and Jonathan Douglas blasted over from distance.
When Johnson wasted possession soon after, Douglas and Gray set up Dallas but his shot was just a little too high.
Redmond cut inside and shot over for the visitors but Brentford took control of the game as half time approached.
And they were very unfortunate not to go in at the break ahead.
Turner made a vital headed block to prevent either Douglas or Gray heading a corner home and Pritchard fired a free kick over the bar soon after.
Gray saw a shot deflect inches wide after he had turned well to try and finish a move involving Judge and Odubajo.
And soon after an even better one-touch move that included James Tarkowski, Judge, Pritchard and Dallas ended with Jos Hooiveld making a vital block to prevent Gray scoring.
Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy dropped the resulting corner but recovered quickly to save at Tarkowski’s feet and the stopper then flew high to his left to keep out a fantastic strike from McCormack.
Brentford went closer still moments later when Judge got on to a long ball and cut it back, Pritchard’s shot was too hot for Ruddy to handle but Hooiveld was there to clear.
As half time approached Pritchard saw a shot blocked after more lovely combination play involving Douglas and Judge and McCormack’s follow-up flew just wide.
Norwich looked a little rattled going in at half time but flew out of the blocks after the break.
They forced a corner in the opening seconds and when it was cleared Redmond lashed over.
The visitors almost made the most of a loose Harlee Dean pass seconds later, Jerome’s cut back was missed by Lewis Grabban and Johnson lashed over from 15 yards.
Button saved from Redmond soon after and Wes Hoolahan cut inside and shot wide when a cross was half cleared moments later.
But Brentford weathered the storm and started to take the upper hand again.
Ruddy saved a Judge shot and the same man then let fly following a short free kick and the effort deflected wide.
McCormack saw a shot blocked before Douglas released Gray in the inside right channel and he brought a low save out of Ruddy with a fierce shot.
The game was starting to get stretched with Brentford on top but Norwich dangerous when they attacked.
A long kick from Ruddy just eluded Jerome and the striker lifted an effort soon after that Button held on to.
Grabban also missed the target with a wild shot after getting to a Martin Olsson pass while at the other end Ruddy was again called in to action, tipping a Judge shot just wide.
As the game entered the final quarter Brentford probably looked the more likely winners but Norwich ruthlessly put The Bees to the sword.
They went ahead from a Brentford error – a loose Tarkowski pass was seized upon by Johnson and the ball was worked via Jerome and Hoolahan to Tettey who slotted home.
And when The Bees tried to fight back, they were caught on the break.
There was, however, a controversial moment as Norwich scored their second goal.
Pritchard appeared to have been fouled inside the area by Hooiveld by referee Tim Robinson waved play on and Norwich broke, Tarkowski made a fine recovery tackle but Steven Whittaker picked up the loose ball and crossed for Jerome to dive and head in off the post.
The Bees could do nothing about the third.
It again came on the break, Jerome picked the ball up and let fly with a shot that ripped in to the net off the underside of the crossbar.
Brentford had chances of their own in that 15 minute three-goal spell – Judge shot wide after turning well – but Button made saves from Jerome and Johnson to keep it at three.
Nick Proschwitz could have reduced the arrears late on when he got on to a Betinho knock down but he shot over.
Betinho also had a shot blocked and Pritchard curled a free kick in to the side netting in the dying seconds.
The game was, however, well up by then and Norwich had the points.
Brentford: Button; Odubajo, Tarkowski, Dean, Bidwell; Douglas, McCormack; Dallas (sub Betinho 77 mins), Pritchard, Judge; Gray (sub Proschwitz 77 mins)
Subs (not used): Bonham, Craig, Tébar, Jota, Toral
Bookings: Judge (75 mins), Tarkowski (78 mins) (second of season)
Norwich City: Ruddy; Whittaker, Turner, Hooiveld, Olsson; Redmond (sub O’Neil 70 mins), Tettey, Johnson, Hoolahan (sub Bennett 86 mins); Grabban (sub Odjidja-Ofoe 79 mins), Jerome
Subs (not used): Rudd, Lafferty, Miquel, Murphy
Bookings: Turner (34 mins), Tettey (82 mins)
Attendance: 10,074 (1,608 away fans)
By Chris Wickham