Brentford extended their unbeaten run to six games with a 3-1 victory over Stoke City at Griffin Park. An own goal from Ryan Shawcross and a superbly executed goal, finished by Saïd Benrahma, gave Brentford a lead they never looked like relinquishing. When Stoke pulled one back they had hope but Brentford sealed the game with a superb strike from Rico Henry.
And the 3-1 win was every bit as conclusive as the score line suggested. Brentford dominated from first whistle to last, hit the woodwork twice and created enough chances to win two or three games. The goals they scored verged from the sublime, as Henry weaved past a posse of defenders to score, to the ridiculous, as Shawcross got in the way of a clearance and saw the ball cannon in off his head. They didn’t let Stoke in to the game and the win was well-deserved.
The first 20 minutes of the game could not have gone better for The Bees. They settled in to an early rhythm, dominated the game and took a 2-0 lead that was the least they deserved. Stoke’s four men in the centre of midfield were unable to get on the ball enough to make an impact and Brentford had enough chances to have the game won by the midway point of the first half.
Their first goal was a catalogue of errors from the visitors. There was a corner that should probably have been prevented when a snap shot from Benrahma was tipped unconvincingly around the post by Jack Butland. When Benrahma then delivered the corner from the left, it sailed deep in to the penalty area, a shot from Ollie Watkins was rolling in but Benik Afobe was well-placed to clear, however, he fired that clearance against Shawcross and the ball bounced back in to the net. Stoke had enough bodies in the box that the goal should not have come but thanks to Shawcross’ head, The Bees had the lead.
The second was more aesthetically pleasing and came just past the quarter hour mark. Watkins found space in the inside right channel after a spell of possession and released Romaine Sawyers on the overlap, he cut the ball back perfectly to Benrahma and the attacker fired low past Butland and in to the corner of the net. It was a superbly executed goal and clinically taken and Brentford had a two-goal lead.
That lead could, in fact, have been greater. Despite being outnumbered in the centre of the pitch, The Bees had control of the game, dominating possession. Wide men Benrahma and Watkins were finding the time and space to attack their full backs and were ably supported by Henry and Henrik Dalsgaard. The Bees had the chances to put Stoke out of it in a blistering start.
Butland made a superb save low to his left to keep out a shot from Neal Maupay and Benrahma fired a free kick in to a defensive wall before a follow-up effort from Yoann Barbet was blocked. Benrahma then saw another shot blocked after he had scored Brentford’s second and Henry’s follow-up looked to be heading for the net before Shawcross made a block. Stoke were rocking and Brentford were going in for the kill but out of nothing, the deficit was halved.
Stoke had barely been in Brentford’s half before Tom Ince found some space between the home side’s defensive and midfield line. He picked out a pass to Afobe, who had dropped off the front and the striker turned before unleashing a shot from 25 yards that ripped past Daniel Bentley and in to the net. The shot was unstoppable and Stoke had a foothold in the game out of nothing.
The visitors grew in to the game after the goal, having more of the ball and looking to get on the front foot. But they largely played in front of The Bees and Brentford could have restored their two-goal advantage before the break. After Henry got on to a ball on the left he had no right to, Benrahma and Watkins set up a shooting chance for Kamohelo Mokotjo that was blocked. And just when it looked like Maupay had found the space to convert the loose ball, Ashley Williams came across the make a challenge.
Butland also saved a cross-cum-shot from Benrahma later in the half following a shot corner, but the game drifted towards the interval with Brentford ahead and in control but with the game a long way from safe. Stoke looked to change it up at the interval, withdrawing striker Saido Berahino, introducing midfield player Peter Etebo and changing their shape. They had width in the shape of Ince and Sam Clucas, which presented Brentford a different challenge. But they also sacrificed men in the centre of the pitch by doing so.
The Stoke switch had changed the pattern of the game and the second half was a little slow to get going. Before Henry lit it up with his first Brentford goal. The left wing back picked up a Sawyers pass 40 yards out after Brentford’s pressure had forced a few hurried clearances, he weaved his way across the pitch, in to the space Stoke had left in making their change, beating two defenders and firing a low shot with his right foot past Butland from 20 yards. It was a goal worthy of any match and Brentford had their two-goal lead back.
And The Bees went looking for more. Maupay fired in to the side netting after getting on to a pass from Watkins and the same man ended a move that involved every Brentford outfield player and around 40 passes, delighting the home fans, with a low shot that Butland saved. It took a fine recovery challenge from Erik Pieters to stop Watkins shooting from ten yards after a fine move involving Dalsgaard and Maupay. Maupay then flicked the top of the crossbar with a volley from a Watkins cross as Brentford again went for the jugular.
The Bees hit the crossbar again when Mokotjo robbed Joe Allen for the umpteenth time and found Watkins, the shot whistled past Butland but cannoned away off the woodwork. Ince had a shot blocked when Stoke put together a rare attack and the visitors made personnel and formation changes as they looked to get back in to the game. But it had no real effect.
Sawyers had a shot saved by Butland after a long one-two with Mokotjo and Barbet curled a free kick just past the post from 22 yards. Ezri Konsa tried to get in on the act when he strode out of defence and lashed a shot from 25 yards that sailed wide. A fourth goal might have been a more accurate reflection of the game, but Brentford didn’t need it to take the points with their third win in a growing unbeaten run.
Brentford: Bentley; Konsa, Jeanvier, Barbet; Dalsgaard, Mokotjo, Sawyers, Henry; Watkins (sub Ogbene 89 mins), Maupay, Benrahma (sub Canós 78 mins)
Subs (not used): Daniels, Odubajo, Mepham, McEachran, Dasilva
Stoke City: Butland; Edwards, Shawcross, Williams, Pieters; Allen, Woods (sub McClean 68 mins), Clucas; Ince (sub Crouch 81 mins); Berahino (sub Etebo h/t), Afobe
Subs (not used): Federici, Bauer, Campbell, Souttar
Bookings: Edwards (11 mins), Allen (82 mins)
Attendance: 9,439 (1,522 away fans)