Brentford extended their unbeaten start to the 2018/19 season to four games, three of them in the Sky Bet Championship, as Sheffield Wednesday were beaten at Griffin Park. The Bees scored a goal in each half as they took a 2-0 victory on a warm summer afternoon in West London to make it seven points from their first three league games. Neal Maupay blasted a penalty home in the first half and then set up Ollie Watkins after the break as Brentford recorded a win.
It was a victory that was deserved and never really in doubt after Maupay had put The Bees in front but had to be earned. Wednesday made life difficult for The Bees for long periods of the afternoon and although they did not offer much in attack, they needed to be broken down and Brentford worked hard to do so. The home side should probably have had more than two goals but that was all they needed to take the points.
The visitors started the game with an intention to keep a narrow shape. They had their full backs tucked in as part of a tight defensive four and two holding midfield players in front of them. They invited Brentford to come on to them and were happy to have The Bees playing in front of them. The home side looking particularly to Watkins on the left to try and stretch the game as they dealt with the problem posed.
The first 20 minutes of the contest felt more even than they really were. Brentford threatened, created chances and dominated possession and territory but played large parts of the opening exchanges in their own half or midfield as they probed for an opening. Maupay was just unable to reach a Sergi Canós cross after a quick break on the right and an effort from Watkins, after he had burst in to the penalty area was deflected in to the arms of Cameron Dawson.
Lewis Macleod had a sight of goal soon after when, at the second attempt, Henrik Dalsgaard picked him out with a cross, but he missed his kick from 15 yards. So, when Brentford took the lead 20 minutes in, it was fair on the balance of play even if it had not really been coming. It was also one Wednesday brought on themselves.
Yoann Barbet looked for an opening from a throw in and when Macleod made a run off Sam Hutchinson, the Wednesday midfield man inexplicably hauled him back in front of referee David Webb. The official pointed to the spot and shrugged his shoulders at Hutchinson as if to point out that the foul was so obvious he had no choice. Maupay lashed the spot kick high to Dawson’s right to put Brentford in front.
The penalty wasn’t saveable, but it was certainly preventable, and Wednesday’s lack of protests gave a hint of their frustration with themselves. It could have been two when Watkins worked a shooting chance but Dawson saved low and he stopped a deflected effort from Canós soon after when Daniel Bentley had thrown half the length of the pitch to turn defence in to attack and get the Spaniard driving forward.
As the half wore on Wednesday started to find an attacking outlet. Barry Bannan started to drift over the pitch, find pockets of space and get the visitors moving forward. He blasted wide from distance and then fed Marco Matias, who shot straight at Bentley from the edge of the penalty area after beating the office trap. And Wednesday generally looked better as half time approached.
But they should have been two down when a short corner was worked cleverly by Macleod to Canós but he shot wide from 15 yards and Dalsgaard could not reach the effort to divert it in. And the lead should have been doubled soon after the restart too. First Canós shot wide after a cross was half cleared to him and he had a better chance soon after. Watkins took a quick throw and released Maupay, he fed it on to Canós but the low shot from 15 yards was saved by Dawson when he probably shouldn’t have been given a chance.
A burst from deep from the impressive Ezri Konsa set up another chance. He found Romaine Sawyers on the edge of the penalty and the ball was eventually worked to Watkins via the back heel of Maupay after tenacious work by the Brentford pair, the shot looked set to hit the net but Tom Lees made a vital tackle. The second goal was not, however, long in coming.
It was Maupay who was the provider this time, unselfishly laying it on to Watkins. The move was started deep in Brentford territory by Chris Mepham, who made a superb interception and got Brentford moving. Sawyers accelerated in to midfield and his pass was flicked by Watkins in to the path of Maupay, the French striker drew Dawson and waited to play the return pass, leaving Watkins to tap in to an unguarded net.
Wednesday had actually had a sight of goal just before Brentford scored when Matias lifted a Fraser Preston cross over Bentley but on to the roof of the net and they could have scored afterwards when Ash Baker got around the back and on to a deep ball but Barbet made the recovery tackle. The visitors were more open as the game progressed, looking for a way back in to the game but with Mepham and Konsa imperious, there was little joy for their attackers and Bannan drifted out of the game as Josh McEachran dominated the centre of midfield.
Brentford went looking for more goals as Wednesday’s threat lessened. Dawson saved from Canós and then held on to a low, drilled, cross-cum-shot from Dalsgaard. Watkins should have scored but blasted wide from 15 yards after he broke free in the inside left channel. Maupay was also denied later in the half when he picked up a loose ball and attacked the edge of the penalty area, Dawson getting down well to save.
Even in the dying stages Brentford could have added to their tally. Judge put Maupay through with only Dawson to beat but the goalkeeper saved with his legs. Judge looked like he would get on to the loose ball and finished but sliced his shot. And in the final seconds, a pass from McEachran allowed Saïd Benrahma a run through on goal but another brilliant save from Dawson kept the score down. The Wednesday’s goalkeeper heroics was not, however, enough to stop Brentford winning.
Brentford: Bentley; Dalsgaard, Konsa, Mepham, Barbet; McEachran; Canós (sub Benrahma 71 mins), Sawyers, Macleod (sub Mokotjo 71 mins), Watkins (sub Judge 77 mins); Maupay
Subs (not used): Daniels, Jeanvier, Woods, Yennaris
Bookings: Dalsgaard (55 mins)
Sheffield Wednesday: Dawson; Baker, Lees, Pudil (sub Penney 84 mins), Thorniley; Hutchinson (sub Preston h/t), Pelupessy; Bannan; Matias (sub Fletcher 76 mins), Nuhiu, Forestieri
Subs (not used): Wildsmith, Palmer, Kirby, Lee
Attendance: 10,134 (1,692 away fans)