Late goal denies Bees
Brentford were made to rue the dismissal of Jake Bidwell as they slipped to a home defeat against Watford.
The Bees were reduced to ten late in the first half by referee Keith Stroud but produced a magnificent display to lead going in to the final quarter thanks to an Andre Gray goal.
But Odion Ighalo scored twice, including a stoppage time winner, to ensure the points headed back to Hertfordshire.
Brentford flew out of the blocks and could have been ahead inside 50 seconds when Jonathan Douglas headed a deep Jota corner over at the far post.
The Bees bossed the early exchanges with Alex Pritchard finding space and Gray’s running testing the Watford back line.
Heurelho Gomes made a brave near post save to prevent Gray turning home a Bidwell cross and then dived at the feet of the Brentford striker when he looked set to get on to a Pritchard through ball.
Watford were more direct in their approach.
They were looking to get the ball in behind Brentford’s high defensive line and played quickly up to their powerful and speedy attackers.
After Brentford’s bright start, which saw some last ditch defending and important clearances, the visitors found their feet and started to create chances.
They almost went ahead luckily when a Bidwell clearance hit Troy Deeney in the face but it flew narrowly wide with David Button stranded.
Deeney curled a shot straight Button soon after before the same man headed a cross down to Miguel Layun and his acrobatic effort was blocked.
It took a superb save from Button to keep The Bees level soon after, a half cleared cross dropped to Ben Watson 25 yards out and he hit a fizzing drive that flicked off Harlee Dean and forced the Brentford goalkeeper to react in a split-second and turn it away.
A James Tarkowski header from a Jota free kick was cleared away but the Brentford defender was more in the action at the other end as Watford started to take control of the match.
He made a fine tackle to deny Deeney and then a vital headed clearance when Ighalo looked set to nod in.
Ighalo turned and shot wide and Layun had a shot blocked before Dean blocked from Fernando Forestieri.
Forestieri went close again when Deeney released him following a quick free kick but as Watford pressed without being able to find a way through.
They were handed a massive advantage in the later stages of the first half when Mr Stroud added Bidwell to the growing list of Brentford players he has dismissed.
The left back took a heavy touch and went to retrieve the ball with a firm tackle on Layun, visiting players surrounded Mr Stroud who flourished a red card in a Brentford player’s direction for the sixth time and sent Bidwell on his way.
Stuart Dallas stepped in at left back and Brentford got through to half time without alarm, indeed The Bees seemed to be galvanised by the predicament they found themselves in.
Gray in particular seemed to rise to the challenge and he could have scored early in the second half when, after great work by Toumani Diagouraga, he stepped away from Craig Cathcart, but he was forced wide and missed the target with his shot.
Jota had a shot blocked and Pritchard blasted the follow-up wide as Brentford started the second half brightly but they suffered another blow when Tarkowski, who had been outstanding, was taken off, apparently injured.
Deeney had a shot blocked when a corner was half cleared and Layun shot wide before Brentford struck.
Button spotted Gray and played a long ball for the striker to run on to, he raced clear and smashed a shot in to the top of the net.
The ten of Brentford were producing a magnificent display but Mr Stroud took centre stage again moments later.
When The Bees failed to clear, Juan Carlos Parades delivered a cross from the right that Douglas brought under control with his chest.
Mr Stroud decided an arm was involved and pointed to the spot.
Deeney stepped up but Button guessed right, dived left and saved.
That did not affect Watford, however, and they continued to pile forward.
Button made a superb stop from Ikechi Anya, now pushing forward repeatedly from left back, and saved from the same man at the near post soon after.
Jota had a shot blocked as Brentford looked for a second on the counter-attack but Watford’s pressure eventually told midway through the second half.
Parades was the supplier, crossing to the near post where Ighalo found space to head powerfully home.
Button made a fine low stop from Deeney and then an even better one from Ighalo before Forestieri blazed well over.
The Bees had their backs to the wall but were looking to get men forward when they could and restore their lead.
Gomes made a good low save from a Jon Toral shot and a Gray effort was blocked after a good run from the striker.
Deeney saw a shot deflect in to the side netting and Forestieri fired against a post after a quick free kick but Brentford appeared to have weathered the storm as the game entered stoppage time.
But The Bees had the point they had worked so hard for snatched away at the death.
Matěj Vydra found a small pocket of space and lifted a cross in for Ighalo to volley home from 12 yards and give the visitors the win.
Brentford still almost snatched a point at the end when Toral escaped on the right but his ball went across the face of goal, just away from Dean, and Watford had their victory.
Brentford: Button; Odubajo, Dean, Tarkowski (sub Craig 51 mins), Bidwell; Douglas, Diagouraga; Jota (sub Toral 72 mins), Pritchard (sub Smith 79 mins), Dallas; Gray
Subs (not used): Bonham, Yennaris, Saunders, Long
Bookings: Dean (56 mins) (fifth of season), Smith (82 mins)
Sent Off: Bidwell (38 mins)
Watford: Gomes; Parades, Angella, Cathcart, Anya (sub Hoban 90 mins); Watson (sub Abdi 58 mins), Tőszér; Layun, Forestieri, Deeney (sub Vydra 83 mins); Ighalo
Subs (not used): Bond, Ekstrand, Doyley, Pudil
Attendance: 10,524 (1,607 away fans)
By Chris Wickham