Brentford’s unbeaten start to the Sky Bet Championship season came to an end as they were beaten by Blackburn Rovers. A single goal settled a largely forgettable game at Ewood Park as the home side took the points. Kasey Palmer scored the winner early in the second half with Blackburn’s only chance of the afternoon and Brentford could find no way back.
The Bees came in to the game unbeaten in their first four league games but they were unable to extend that in Lancashire. Brentford hit the crossbar twice and dominated possession and territory but did not create as many clear-cut chances as they would have expected. And Palmer’s goal proved to be enough for Blackburn to hand Brentford their first defeat of the campaign.
The pattern of the game was established early on. The home side played with two holding midfield players in front of a back four that were not keen to venture forward. They looked to keep the game congested in the centre of midfield and invited Brentford to try and play through them. The Bees dominated possession but could not build an attacking momentum in the early stages.
The visitors were patient in possession. They tried to work their way up the pitch and find spaces but Blackburn were disciplined without the ball and there were few good chances. Marcus Forss, on his Sky Bet Championship debut, had a sight of goal from 20 yards but did not make a good connection and David Raya saved. He almost got in again in the early stages when Romaine Sawyers tried to find Ollie Watkins, the ball broke loose but Forss could not get to it.
Blackburn looked to get from back to front quickly. They tried to use powerful striker Joe Nuttall as a focal point and get players around him to play in Brentford territory. It was, however, largely unsuccessful and they kept giving the ball back to Brentford. Daniel Bentley did save a looping Nuttall header late in the half and Joe Rothwell almost conjured something with a dart in to the box but his shot deflected wide.
As the half wore on, Brentford were starting to build a territorial advantage, playing more in Blackburn’s half as the break approached. And they could have gone head before the interval. Forss spun in midfield and spread the play, it was worked on via Nico Yennaris to Henrik Dalsgaard and his cross was headed against the crossbar by Saïd Benrahma. The winger had been involved earlier in the move and beat Raya but could not find the net.
Yennaris then pulled a shot wide as Brentford pressed Blackburn back and when Dalsgaard flicked a long ball in to the path of Watkins, the attacker burst in to the box and lashed a shot inches wide. The effort may even have flicked the post on its way wide, but it was not a first half that deserved a goal even if Brentford ended it with the upper hand. Within ten minutes of the restart, however, they were behind.
The goal was one that would have angered the visitors as it looked as if Forss had been fouled in the centre of the pitch. Referee Tony Harrington had waved play on seconds earlier when Rothwell fell theatrically and then did the same again when Forss was tackled from behind and had his ankles tapped. The home side fed the ball to the right and Elliott Bennett ran in to space, his low cross was heading in to a posse of defenders before Bentley stretched out an arm and diverted it in to the path of Palmer. The Blackburn attacker slotted home with ease to score what proved to be the winner.
The goal came when it appeared Brentford were turning the screw. The second half had again started in cagey fashion but The Bees were higher up the pitch and came within a whisker of taking the lead just before Blackburn’s goal. Dalsgaard flicked a ball in to the path of Sawyers and he weighed up his options before finding Yennaris, the 25-yard shot looked set for the top corner before Raya got a fingertip to it and diverted it on to the crossbar.
Raya was in the action again soon after the goal when Benrahma let fly from 30 yards after a free kick was half cleared, the shot dipped wickedly late but the goalkeeper was again able to get a hand to it, saving high to his left. But the Rovers goalkeeper was largely untroubled for the rest of the afternoon. Brentford had plenty of the ball and made changes to their personnel in attack to try and open the home side up but couldn’t do so as they couldn’t find a tempo to challenge their hosts.
Their efforts on goal largely came from long distance and were few and far between. Watkins might have done better when he was found by Sawyers 16 yards out but he pulled a shot across the face of goal. And substitute Lewis Macleod fizzed a shot wide from 20 yards when a long ball caused a bit of trouble in the home defence. But apart from that, Blackburn stood firm. They defended deep but chased all over the pitch and Brentford could not build up any sort of momentum to break them down, meaning they had to head back to London with nothing.
Blackburn Rovers: Raya, Nyambe, Lenihan, Mulgrew, Bell; Smallwood, Evans (sub Travis 77 mins); Palmer (sub Conway 69 mins), Bennett, Rothwell; Nuttall (sub Graham 59 mins)
Subs (not used): Leutwiler, Caddis, Downing, Hart
Brentford: Bentley; Dalsgaard, Konsa, Mepham, Barbet; Mokotjo; Benrahma (sub Canós 64 mins), Yennaris, Sawyers (sub Macleod 79 mins), Watkins; Forss (sub Judge 64 mins)
Subs (not used): Daniels, Jeanvier, Clarke, McEachran
Bookings: Macleod (90 mins)
Attendance: 12,094 (454 Bees fans)