A solitary goal settled Brentford’s first London derby of the season in favour of Charlton Athletic. The Bees dominated almost exclusively but lost the game to Charlton’s only real effort on goal. The home side struck late in the first half, having weathered a Brentford storm, and then held on as the pressure mounted in the later stages.
Brentford had enough of the ball in the final third to have won two or three games and the home defence bravely protected their goalkeeper Dillon Phillips, making a series of blocks. There were other occasions when The Bees failed to find the right final pass and the game was regularly halted as Charlton came off worse in a series of firm but fair challenges with numerous players receiving treatment across the course of the 90 minutes. And with The Bees unable to find a way through, Charlton had the win.
There was a rather sedate opening to the game with each team happy to keep possession in their own half and build play slowly. The soaring temperatures may have been a factor but once they had settled in to the game, it was Brentford who moved up the gears sooner. Once Sergi Canós and Emiliano Marcondes started to find space between Charlton’s defensive and midfield lines, they could link with Ollie Watkins and bring the wing backs in to the game.
Canós could have scored the first time either team had any sort of attacking possession. The home side failed to deal with a corner on three separate occasions and Canós got to a loose ball ahead of Phillips and defender Ben Purrington but his toe-poke on the stretch flew over the bar. Canós also curled a shot wide and was unfortunate that a cross from Watkins, after the striker had robbed Conor Gallagher, was a little too high and the header looped over.
Phillips had to get down well to hold on to a low Rico Henry cross after a spell of possession had ended with an incisive pass from Christian Nørgaard. A similar chance on the other side should have resulted in the opening goal when Marcondes broke past Tom Lockyear but he dithered while waiting to pick out Canós in front of goal and the Charlton defender made a recovery tackle. Watkins blasted over from distance soon after as Brentford tried to turn their dominance in possession and territory in to the opening goal.
Brentford’s dominance, and an injury to Deji Oshilaja, forced Charlton to change their system. The home side moved Darren Pratley from a central midfield area to play as part of a back three as they tried to stem the tide. A lengthy delay while Oshilaja was treated, and then withdrawn, allowed them to reshape and halted Brentford’s momentum a little.
And with Brentford no longer in command, they gave the home side an opening which they happily grabbed. Brentford lost the ball in the centre of the field and Jonny Williams was able to find Gallagher with a pass. The Brentford’s central defence split, Gallagher raced on to smash the ball past David Raya and give Charlton the lead.
While the home side could not claim to deserve it on the balance of play, they had changed the flow of the game and took the chance when it came. Brentford could have levelled before the break when Henry got away on the left and his cross found Henrik Dalsgaard at the far post, but the shot was blocked and the home side went in at half time with the advantage. That could have become two just after interval when Purrington got away on the left but his ball just eluded Lyle Taylor.
Charlton showed more attacking intent at the start of the second period, but it took a while for the game to spring back to life. The home side were further up the pitch and Brentford were unable to build any attacking momentum until Watkins got on to a ball down the left, cut inside and let fly with a shot that Philips had to tip over the bar. Kamohelo Mokotjo and Saïd Benrahma were introduced before the resulting corner was taken and the last half hour was very different to the 15 minutes that preceded it.
Brentford could have equalised from that corner when the low delivery was met by Pontus Jansson but it was blocked and scrambled away, and it took a fine tackle soon after from Jason Pearce to prevent Marcondes turning in a low Henry cross after a good pass from Benrahma. Dalsgaard was unable to force in the cross from Benrahma when the corner was played short and there was a better chance from the second phase. Canós delivered from the right and Marcondes chose to head it back across when he seemed to meet it eight yards out in front of goal, the header from Dalsgaard was saved by Phillips.
Canós saw a shot deflect wide of the far post and Benrahma then had an effort blocked from the short corner. Dalsgaard blasted well over at the end of a move involving Canós, Benrahma and the latest substitute, on at left wing back, Bryan Mbeumo. Another short corner could have set up an equaliser for Watkins, arriving to meet a far post cross, but he headed in to the side netting.
As the minutes ticked down, Charlton were sitting deeper and deeper. They were doing their job defensively, but Taylor was increasingly isolated as wave after wave of attack came from The Bees. A rare corner was a chance to put a ball in to the penalty area but Tomer Hemed headed wide on the stretch.
And all the action was at the other end. A low effort from Mathias Jensen was well saved by Phillips low down to his right and there was a brave block from Purrington when Benrahma weaved in to the penalty area. The ball broke and was chipped back in to the box by Jensen where Marcondes looked set to score but Pearce made the block.
Even in stoppage time – surprisingly only four minutes initially signalled by referee Tim Robinson despite the plentiful stoppages, a booking for time-wasting and multiple substitutions – there were chances for The Bees. They worked the ball down the left and a shot from Mbeumo was cleared off the line by Pearce, the follow-up from Dalsgaard was bravely blocked and Lockyear somehow then diverted a shot from Canós away without using his arms despite making his body bigger. The fact that three shots in 15 seconds failed to beat the mass of Charlton defenders summed up the day.
Charlton Athletic: Phillips; Oshilaja (sub Lapslie 32 mins), Lockyear, Pearce, Purrington; Cullen, Pratley; Leko (sub Hemed h/t), Williams (sub Field 81 mins), Gallagher; Taylor
Subs (not used): Amos, Bonne, Sarr, Oztumer
Bookings: Phillips (88 mins)
Brentford: Raya; Racic (sub Benrahma 60 mins), Jansson, Pinnock; Dalsgaard, Jensen, Nørgaard (sub Mokotjo 60 mins), Henry (sub Mbeumo 72 mins); Marcondes, Watkins, Canós
Subs (not used): Daniels, Clarke, Jeanvier, Dasilva
Bookings: Henry (45 mins), Dalsgaard (76 mins) (second of season), Canós (90 mins)
Attendance: 16,771 (2,250 Bees fans)