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Match Reports

Brentford 3 Fulham 1

Bees come from behind to take derby victory

2 December 2017

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Brentford came from a goal down to claim the West London bragging rights with a 3-1 victory over neighbours Fulham. Romaine Sawyers and Ollie Watkins both contributed a goal and an assist as Brentford recovered from conceding first to take the win that extends their run of form in the Sky Bet Championship to one defeat in 13. Neeskens Kebano had put Fulham ahead but Sergi Canós equalised before the break and Brentford pulled clear after the interval to take the win.

And while there were some difficult moments for The Bees, there was no doubt they deserved the points. They were helped by Denis Odoi getting himself sent off for Fulham in a spectacularly stupid fashion but Brentford were ahead and in control by that point and will believe they would have won anyway. With ten men, Fulham created almost nothing and never looked like recovering once Sawyers had put The Bees in front. Watkins’ third put the icing on the cake.

Fulham started the game without a recognised striker on the pitch. They played their two wide attackers – Kebano and Sheyi Ojo – high up the pitch and looked to get the midfield forward to support. With Brentford losing their striker, Lasse Vibe, to injury inside the first 20 minutes and having no like-for-like replacement on the substitute’s bench, the game took place without any natural centre forwards on the pitch for the majority of its duration.

Much of the first half was played in the centre of the field with the teams trying to get their full backs and wide attackers in to the game but often finding it difficult to play the ball in and out of a congested midfield area. Daniel Bentley saved when Tom Cairney let fly from 18 yards after Josh Clarke had been robbed on the left and Oliver Norwood blasted a free kick well over but there were few early openings.

Brentford tried to play on the front foot but the sheer numbers Fulham had in the centre of the pitch made that difficult. The visitors probably had a little more success in retaining possession and trying to create chances but when they scored 25 minutes in, it was still from the first meaningful chance. It was a well worked goal as Fulham capitalised when The Bees lost possession in midfield, Cairney picked the pass and released Ryan Fredericks in the right channel, his cut back eluded four or five players but reached Kebano at the far post and he tucked it in.

It could have been worse for Brentford soon after when a clever Stefan Johansen pass released Ojo but his fierce shot was beaten away at the near post. Norwood also had a shot blocked as the visitors took control. But a moment of brilliance from Watkins enabled Canós to level it up just past the half hour. Watkins turned clear in midfield and drove away from three defenders before releasing Canós, the Spaniard burst in to the box and let fly with a shot that deflected past David Button and nestled in the back of the net.

Fulham had been composed at the back for most of the first half but suddenly looked less sure. Button gave the ball away on a few occasions and Brentford started to find spaces. Yoann Barbet blasted wide when a corner was half cleared and Kamohelo Mokotjo got in behind soon after but checked back and shot wide.

The visitors did, however, regain their poise as the interval approached and ended the first half on top. Bentley saved a curling shot from Ojo before a move involving Johansen and Fredericks ended with Norwood blasting over from 12 yards. There were a pair of unconvincing saves from Bentley – from a Fredericks shot and an Ojo header – before the first period came to an end.

Fulham may have gone in to the break with the initiative but Brentford ripped it from them at the start of the second half. The Bees flew out of the blocks and ten minutes in to the second half they had the lead and a man advantage. The goal came four minutes after the break when Fulham failed to deal with a free kick, Watkins knocked it back, Barbet fired a shot that beat Button but hit the inside of the post and flew across the box where Sawyers was waiting to smash it back in to the net.

Brentford could have been ahead before that when a great pass from Ryan Woods put Watkins away in the inside right channel, he only had Button to beat but dragged his shot wide of the far post. Both the goal and that chance showed a weakness in the left back channel for Fulham and when Watkins got away again he was cynically blocked by Odoi. Unfortunately for Odoi he had been booked in the first half for a foul on Mokotjo and then given a final warning by referee Robert Madley just before that blocked. Mr Madley had no choice but to show a second yellow card and leave Fulham playing the final 37 minutes with ten men.

Barbet curled the resulting free kick over the bar before a Woods effort deflected away for a corner. That dead ball was half cleared and Nico Yennaris sent it fizzing back past Button but inches wide. Button also saved a powerful Barbet header and a low curled effort as Brentford went looking for a third goal to give them some breathing space. Watkins then fired wide before substitute Lewis Macleod, making his return after a serious knee injury, saw a shot deflect in to the side netting.

Watkins headed over after John Egan had nodded Macleod’s delivery back but he got his goal moments later. And it was the goal of the game. Brentford toyed with Fulham in midfield, making a series of passes before Woods found Mokotjo, he spread it wide to Sawyers and the first-time delivery was tucked home by Watkins.

Any chance Fulham had disappeared with that goal. They had offered little in the second half apart from trying to get full backs Fredericks and Ryan Sessegnon in behind Brentford. The one opening they did create came after a run from Fredericks, he found Cairney and the measured shot from 20 yards cannoned away off the crossbar. The ball was scrambled clear after an Ojo header and a Johansen shot was blocked.

It looked as if there may be more moments like that but Brentford dominated possession and wouldn’t let Fulham back in to it. Josh McEachran was introduced to enable Brentford to keep the ball in even more efficient fashion and The Bees could, indeed, have had more goals. A delicious cross from Barbet was met by Watkins but Button saved superbly and at the death a run from Macleod ended with a shot that was blocked by the over-worked Fulham defence. But Brentford had their lead and moments later they had the points.

Brentford: Bentley; Clarke, Egan, Bjelland, Barbet; Woods; Canós (sub Macleod 73 mins), Mokotjo, Yennaris (sub McEachran 80 mins), Watkins; Vibe (sub Sawyers 17 mins)

Subs (not used): Daniels, Mepham, Chatzitheodoridis, Archibald

Bookings: Canós (36 mins)

Fulham: Button; Fredericks, Kalas, Odoi, Sessegnon; McDonald; Cairney, Johansen (sub de la Torre 77 mins), Norwood; Ojo (sub Graham 85 mins), Kebano (sub Fonte 63 mins)

Subs (not used): Bettinelli, Mollo, Djaló, Kamara

Bookings: Odoi (45 mins), Cairney (59 mins), Fredericks (82 mins), Norwood (89 mins)

Sent Off: Odoi (53 mins) (second bookable offence)

Attendance: 11,090 (1,646 away fans)

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