Gray scores winner as Bees beat Brighton
Brentford completed a Sky Bet Championship double over Brighton and Hove Albion with a win on their first ever visit to the American Express Community Stadium.
Andre Gray scored the only goal just before the half hour mark after Brighton had slightly the better of the opening exchanges.
Home defender Lewis Dunk was sent off in the second half and The Bees had numerous chances to kill the game off but were unable to do so.
They could, however, keep the hosts out and took the points back to West London.
Brighton were happy to let Brentford have the ball for most of the opening quarter of the match.
The Bees dominated possession and territory but largely played in front of the hosts, who looked to hit on the break.
Brighton looked to get men behind the ball whenever The Bees had it in the opening exchanges.
Attacking trio Gray, Jota and Stuart Dallas were all surrounded whenever they had the ball and Brighton worked hard to get men over the pitch when Brentford moved it on.
The Bees could perhaps have moved it quicker in the first 25 minutes but Brighton were doing their job well.
Jota was crowded out when a good run from Alex Pritchard set up a shooting chance and Dallas headed wide but Brentford’s posession in the first 25 minutes did not really lead to chances, and the better ones were coming at the other end.
Sam Baldock dragged a shot wide early on when well placed before Craig Mackail-Smith’s pass released Iñigo Calderón on the right, the full back raced on and shot low but David Button kept the effort out.
Button then denied Solly March, who was Brighton’s most effective player in the first 25 minutes, and Forster-Caskey then shot over after good play by the aforementioned March.
When The Bees went ahead just before the half hour, it was arguably against the run of play.
It came the first time the home side committed a few men forward, Dallas intercepted on Brentford’s left and raced in to the space Calderón had vacated, getting away from Gordon Greer, his cross was met by Gray, the shot hit Dunk, looped over David Stockdale and in.
March shot wide after a nice turn and Rohan Ince forced Button in to a low save after a fine move that saw the hosts move the length of the pitch but Brentford dominated the later stages of the first half.
Brighton seemed to run out of steam, unable to press and harry as they did in the early stages of the first half and there was room for The Bees to play.
Pritchard came to the fore, finding space and exploiting it.
Gray almost scored a second when Dallas, after a nice move on the left, set Jake Bidwell away and the cross was met by the Brentford goal scorer, his headed bounced just wide.
The Bees then came close in the dying stages of the first half.
James Tarkowski moved forward with the ball and fed Dallas, he moved it on to Gray who turned and shot wide from the edge of the penalty area.
Gray sliced a shot from a deep Jota free kick early in the second half but the home should have been level soon after.
A deep cross, aimed for Dunk, was nodded down by Tarkowski straight to Mackail-Smith ten yards out, his shot was superbly saved by Button and Harlee Dean blocked Baldock’s follow-up.
March then blasted over from the edge of the box as the home side started the second half well.
The game was becoming stretched as Brighton attacked more, chasing the game.
Dallas almost set up another goal with a superb run down the left; his cross was palmed out by Stockdale with Gray waiting and just eluded the arriving Jonathan Douglas.
At the other end the home side were able to overload on the right and Calderón cut the ball back to March, he was crowded out and Danny Holla’s follow-up was blocked.
The game’s major flashpoint came just past the hour mark when, after a tussle on the Brentford right, there was an altercation between Jota and Dunk.
Dunk appeared to raise his arms and referee Andy Davies cautioned both.
Dunk had already been booked in the first half for a horrible, cynical hack at Pritchard and was shown the red card.
Mackail-Smith immediately found space in in the inside left channel but shot wide.
However, the home crowd had well and truly found their voices and Jota was the target of their ire.
Brentford played everything through the Spaniard in the moments that followed and he seemed to thrive.
He fired inches wide of the far post after being played in by Pritchard, who then had a shot saved by Stockdale with his legs after weaving his way through.
Gray headed a Jake Bidwell cross wide and Stockdale produced a superb save to prevent Douglas volleying home a clever Pritchard cross.
Brighton broke quickly on the right, Chris O’Grady played the ball in and Adrian Colunga let fly with a shot that Button went away to his left to save.
The resulting corner was met by Greer but the defender nodded it wide.
Both teams were attacking as the game entered the final ten minutes, the home side doing so despite having Mackail-Smith off for treatment for long periods.
Gray and Smith both missed the target for The Bees before Jon Toral had a moment to forget.
With Brighton down to nine Brentford played the ball up the pitch – Pritchard fed Gray and he moved it on to Toral, who only had Stockdale to beat, the midfield man rounded the goalkeeper but got the ball stuck between his feet and failed to knock it in to the unguarded net from two yards.
Smith shot wide and Sam Saunders was crowded out after being played in by Toral.
Brentford’s profligacy meant Brighton still had a sniff as the game entered stoppage time.
An Ince shot was blocked and, in the dying seconds, a long throw fell to Holla and his shot was cleared off the line was Bidwell.
That was enough to see Brentford over the line and give them a second consecutive 1-0 win.
Brighton and Hove Albion: Stockdale; Calderón, Greer, Dunk, Bennett; Holla, Ince; March (sub O’Grady 73 mins), Forster-Caskey (sub Colunga 58 mins), Baldock (sub Halford 63 mins); Mackail-Smith
Subs (not used): Walton, Hughes, Saltor, Teixeira
Sent Off: Dunk (61 mins) (second yellow card)
Brentford: Button; Odubajo, Dean, Tarkowski, Bidwell; Douglas, Diagouraga; Jota (sub Toral 74 mins), Pritchard (sub Saunders 89 mins), Dallas (sub Smith 78 mins); Gray
Subs (not used): Bonham, Craig, Yennaris, Tébar
Bookings: Jota (61 mins) (second of season), Button (90 mins) (third of season)
Attendance: 27,186 (2,787 Bees fans)
By Chris Wickham