Two goals in the space of four first half minutes were enough to condemn Brentford to defeat against Wigan Athletic. The Bees were a long way below their best and were deservedly beaten by the Lancashire side on a cold afternoon in the North West. Sam Morsy scored one for the hosts and was credited with the second soon after but it will probably end up as an own goal. That gave Wigan a 2-0 lead they never looked like relinquishing.
Brentford tried to fight back after the break but did not create enough to really worry the hosts until the dying stages. Jota halved the deficit with his first goal since returning from a spell out on loan and The Bees had hope as they entered the final few minutes. But Brentford did not do enough over the course of the 90 minutes to earn anything from the game and Wigan were well worth their 2-1 win.
There was little rhythm to the early exchanges. Wigan had five in midfield behind lone striker Will Grigg and they set up to be very narrow. With Brentford also using three midfield players and Romaine Sawyers tucked in behind Lasse Vibe, the centre of the park was extremely congested. Wigan were combative and competitive and prevented Brentford getting any sort of momentum. An early Ryan Woods free kick flew across in to the arms of Jakob Haugaard without a touch but Brentford were unable to put together much attacking possession.
It was Wigan who started to take control as the first half wore on. They grew in confidence as they stifled Brentford and used runners from central areas to create openings. They hassled and harried and tried to get their full backs forward to provide width while also threatening from set pieces. Callum Connolly met a Michael Jacobs corner with a looping header that landed on the roof of the net and another dead ball soon after dropped loose but Grigg could not convert.
Daniel Bentley made a good save when Connolly met a deep Stephen Warnock cross but Wigan’s threat was starting to grow. They almost scored when Morsy got away from Tom Field and fired in a low shot that beat Bentley and hit the inside of the post, Grigg reacted quickest but poked the loose ball wide. The goal did come, however, moments later in very similar fashion. This time Morsy wriggled free in the centre of the pitch and found himself 18 yards out, he let fly and the shot whistled past Bentley and in to the bottom corner.
Brentford could have levelled within minutes when Maxime Colin got away on the right and delivered a low cross, Field arrived at the edge of the penalty area but lashed over. That would, however, have been unfair on the hosts and they got their second goal soon after. The ball was worked through to Grigg in the box and he got away from Harlee Dean to fire in a shot that Bentley saved well. Brentford could not clear and the ball broke to Morsy, he fired in a low effort that hit Dean and rolled in. The goal was credited to Morsy initially but will probably go down as a Dean own goal.
It could have been worse for Brentford before the break. A Warnock cross just eluded Grigg on the stretch and Bentley saved when Jacobs broke through. Brentford offered little in attack. Sawyers had a sight of goal after exchanging passes with Josh McEachran but blasted over from 25 yards. Haugaard was not tested in the first half as Wigan dominated territory and chances and deservedly had a comfortable lead at the interval.
Dan Burn lashed over early in the second half for Wigan but Brentford pressed forward looking for a way back in to the game. And they almost found one five minutes after the break. Tom Field headed a corner down and John Egan spun on a sixpence but fired a shot inches past the far post. Egan then had a shot blocked before, following a spell of pressure, a Sawyers cross was cleared deep in the penalty area and Field nodded wide.
But Wigan weathered the storm and the game started to drift. Max Power fired well over before Jacobs had a shot blocked and Connolly fired well over. Neither team particularly looked like scoring and Brentford introduced Jota, Philipp Hofmann and Josh Clarke to try and change the flow of the game. Vibe almost conjured something with a shot after a nice turn but it deflected just past the post and, when the resulting corner was half cleared, Andreas Bjelland met a Nico Yennaris cross and it took a superb save from Haugaard to prevent the header flying in to the top corner.
Shaun MacDonald faded a shot wide for the hosts before setting up Jacobs for a shot that flew across the face of goal. Just when it seemed the game would drift to a close Brentford pulled one back. Hofmann found space and fired in a shot that Haugaard stopped but could not hold, Jota reacted quickest and bundled the ball over the line.
That could have set up a grandstand finished but it never really materialised. Field had a shot blocked and Brentford dominated territory but there were no real chances. And at the other end Grigg could have sealed it after finding space but lashed in to the side netting. Bodies were piled forward for The Bees but Wigan stood firm and got the win.
Wigan Athletic: Haugaard; Connolly, Burn, Buxton, Warnock; MacDonald, Perkins (sub Tunnicliffe 75 mins), Power (sub Le Fondre 85 mins), Morsy, Jacobs; Grigg (sub Morgan 90 mins)
Subs (not used): Jääskeläinen, Gomez, Colclough, Browne
Bookings: MacDonald (36 mins)
Brentford: Bentley; Egan (sub Hofmann 63 mins), Dean, Bjelland; Colin, Yennaris, Woods, McEachran (sub Jota 55 mins), Field; Sawyers (sub Clarke 75 mins); Vibe
Subs (not used): Bonham, Barbet, Cole, Kerschbaumer