Brentford’s three-match unbeaten run was brought to an end by Nottingham Forest. A game of few chances was settled early in the second half when Ben Watson volleyed in from a corner. That was enough to give the home side the points and a place in the top two of the Sky Bet Championship a quarter of the way through the season.
The Bees had won away at Barnsley last week and slotted home draws with Stoke City and Bristol City either side and will come away thinking they should have had another point. Neither team were particularly incisive in attack and Forest’s best chances in open play came after the took the lead and the game stretched. But the hosts got the crucial goal and took the points.
Brentford have conceded within five minutes of the start of their last two away games – at Barnsley and Preston North End – so it was perhaps understandable that they started in a cautious manner. The home side had control of the opening exchanges, winning some early corners and taking the territorial advantage. They particularly looked to attack on their right in the opening moments, trying to get Matty Cash outside Joe Lolley, but Brentford held firm in the first 15 minutes and there were no chances of note.
The first shot on goal when Lolley stepped in to the centre of midfield and found the space to get up a head of steam, he tried to lift an effort over David Raya but could not beat the goalkeeper. That seemed to open the game up a fraction. The home side were happy to sit deep and Brentford were patient in possession, but gaps were being created and so were openings.
The Bees almost worked a throw in to good effect when Sergi Canós got on to a Henrik Dalsgaard ball and drilled it along the six-yard box. It only needed a touch, but Cash was there to clear and keep the game all square. Canós also had a shot blocked and a looping Pontus Jansson header from the resulting corner was held by Brice Samba. The Forest goalkeeper got behind a low Josh Dasilva shot and an effort from Ollie Watkins was blocked as The Bees began to put together some attacking possession.
At the other end, a corner was punched by Raya against Julian Jeanvier and he was relieved to see it bounce wide. The next delivery was met low by Watson at the near post but turned wide. When Lewis Grabban got away from Jeanvier on the right his low cross looked perfect for Tiago Silva to finish from 15 yards, but Mathias Jensen made a superbly timed tackle to stop the shot. Silva then curled a free kick wide from 30 yards.
As half time approached, the game began to meander. There were shots coming in at both ends but neither team looked particularly like scoring. Watson lashed miles over for the home side while Bryan Mbeumo had a looping snap shot saved when he could have gone on in to the space in front of him. A Mbeumo header from a Dalsgaard cross then looped over the bar while Cash shot wide at the other end.
The Bees almost went ahead with the last kick of the first half. Jensen lined up a free kick from 30 yards and his effort deflected through the defensive wall. It looked as if it might beat Samba but the goalkeeper reacted quickly, changed direction and saved to his left to ensure the game was all square at the interval.
Canós had a sight of goal early in the second half, his shot deflecting away for a corner despite the efforts of Samba, but Forest had the upper hand after the interval. They had a slightly higher position when out of possession, which made it harder for Brentford to play out. The Bees had a lot of the ball but were playing with it in their own defensive areas and when they were forced in to mistakes, Forest could pounce.
Lolley lashed over when a corner was half cleared and when the ball was turned over soon after Silva played Grabban in to space in the penalty area, he looked set to pull the trigger but Jansson made a superb tackle. That only, however, delayed the opening goal by a few seconds. The corner flicked off heads in the middle and Joe Worrall nodded it down for Watson to volley in. Jansson made a brave attempt to block as the boots came flying in but Watson had yards of space and his firm finish left Raya helpless.
It could have got worse for Brentford soon after when a cross was half cleared and Grabban had space to turn but he fired over the bar. Worrall also headed a corner off target moments later. Jansson and Grabban did battle once again when they chased a long ball over the top. The Forest striker got to the ball but Jansson denied him space to shoot and when the ball was set up for Silva, the effort flew wide.
Brentford tried to change it up as the minutes ticked down. Saïd Benrahma and Kamohelo Mokotjo were introduced before Nikos Karelis followed later as The Bees chased the game. Mbeumo lashed a shot inches wide when a corner dropped loose before he was withdrawn, and Watkins headed over when a corner was half cleared and returned by Jeanvier. Watkins did have the ball in the net but was flagged offside, and clearly so, well before the shot came in.
Forest were still looking to attack and get the second goal that would kill the game. Raya saved from Sammy Ameobi when a cross came in from the right and there was a better chance soon after. Chema cleaned out Watkins on halfway and Forest were allowed to break as referee Dean Whitestone waved play on, the ball was worked to Ameobi on the edge of the penalty area but, again, Raya saved.
Lolley had a shot blocked from a short corner as time ran down and a cross-cum-shot from Watkins was saved. Another Watkins shot was blocked as six minutes of additional time was signalled and Brentford pressed on but without the incisive attacking play to break the home side down. They also had to do without Canós for the last minutes, who limped off after all substitutes had been used. Rafa Mir shot wide for the home side in the dying seconds but one goal was the most the game deserved and Watson getting it early in the second half, gave Forest the points.
Nottingham Forest: Samba; Cash, Worrall, Chema, Ribeiro; Sow (sub Adomah 78 mins), Watson; Lolley, Silva, Carvalho (sub Ameobi 64 mins); Grabban (sub Mir 90 mins)
Subs (not used): Muric, Figueiredo, Bostock, Robinson
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Jeanvier, Henry; Jensen (sub Karelis 75 mins), Nørgaard, Dasilva (sub Benrahma 63 mins); Canós, Watkins, Mbeumo (sub Mokotjo 63 mins)
Subs (not used): Daniels, Clarke, Pinnock, Thompson
Bookings: Canós (35 mins) (third of season)