A goal inside the first five minutes from Preston North End sent Brentford on the way to defeat at Deepdale. The Bees fell behind after a fast start from the home side and were never able to get back on terms. They created openings, particularly in a spell around half time, but Preston held firm and got a second goal to seal the points after the break.
While some of the raw statistics may suggest otherwise, the game produced the right result and 2-0 felt fair overall. Preston built on their early goal and were defensively sound for most of the afternoon. When they had the chance to grab a second goal, they did so and then saw the game out with few alarms.
The game started in the worst possible fashion for The Bees as they found themselves a goal down before they had any sort of possession. The home side forced a series of early corners and scored from the third of them. The goal came when a deep delivery was half cleared despite three or four attempts from The Bees to remove all danger, Ryan Ledson took the time to deliver and found Sean Maguire unmarked and the Preston attacker took a touch before finishing.
As much as any goal can be fully deserved after four minutes, that one was. The Bees had been forced back, unable to clear their lines, and as ball after ball came in to the box, it seemed a matter of time before one found a target. And it could have been worse soon after when Maguire found Billy Bodin with a pass in the inside left channel but he blasted over the bar. Bodin then got the better of Rico Henry as they battled for a high ball but lost control under pressure and David Raya gathered.
It took The Bees a while to get going. The early goal didn’t help but they were short of possession in the opening exchanges as Preston dominated the game. There was half a chance when Saïd Benrahma burst forward and played a one-two with Ollie Watkins. He found himself with goalkeeper Declan Rudd approaching and lifted it over him but could not direct the effort and the ball was smashed clear.
Once Brentford did get a foothold in the game, they started to show their attacking threat. Sergi Canós was a livewire threat on the right flank and he linked well with Bryan Mbeumo without really creating a clear-cut chance. A cross was met at the bear post by Watkins but diverted wide and a run from deep from Canós ended with him toe-poking wide from the edge of the penalty area.
Brentford’s best chance of the first half hour fell to Mbeumo. He reacted quickest when Watkins flicked a Raya kick on and appeared to be through with just Rudd to beat but his touch was heavy and the ball rolled harmlessly through to the goalkeeper. Mbeumo met a Henry cross with a fierce volley later in the half but lashed it over and Canós headed off target when Benrahma delivered a cross as half time approached.
The closest Brentford came to an equaliser before the break was when Benrahma was found after drifting in to the centre of the field and let fly from 30 yards. The shot dipped, swerved and looked like it might beat Rudd, but the goalkeeper got enough behind in to keep it out and ensure his team held the lead at the interval. It was a lead they may have just about deserved but there were signs Brentford would be able to turn the game around.
And The Bees continued to hold the upper hand after the interval. They almost levelled when Watkins fed a Benrahma cross to Mbeumo and he curled a shot that landed on the roof of the net. Watkins then got on to a long Canós pass and played a one-two with the increasingly influential Benrahma before firing in to Rudd’s legs at the near post.
Benrahma curled a free kick narrowly wide from 30 yards and a Christian Norgaard effort deflected narrowly over the bar with Rudd scrambling. But with Brentford looking like they would find a breakthrough, they were hit with a sucker punch as Preston grabbed a second goal. It was largely of Brentford’s own making as they failed to recover after Pontus Jansson’s header wasn’t dealt with by Raya, not getting any distance on a header of his own as Henrik Dalsgaard offered help, the home side overloaded on the right and Darnell Fisher crossed for Tom Barkhuizen to tap in.
The goal had come after a slight lull in play. Both teams had made changes, with Brentford also changing their shape, and referee David Coote had confused and angered the home players by giving Brentford possession when awarding a drop ball that killed some of the game’s momentum. Preston introduced Paul Gallagher to give more solidity to the centre of midfield and that seemed to reduce Brentford’s attacking potency.
And the second goal seemed to kill Brentford off completely. The Bees were unable to put together any sort of attacking play in the later stages and grew increasingly frustrated with the situation. Henry saw a shot blocked when a corner was half cleared but Brentford offered nothing else and Preston took the points.
Preston North End: Rudd; Fisher, Bauer, Davies, Rafferty; Browne, Ledson (sub Gallagher 55 mins); Bodin (sub Harrop 65 mins), Johnson, Maguire; Barkhuizen (sub Potts 81 mins)
Subs (not used): Ripley, Storey, Green, Stockley
Bookings: Fisher (60 mins), Johnson (78 mins)
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Jeanvier; Canós, Nørgaard, Jensen (sub Dasilva 73 mins), Henry; Mbeumo (sub Mokotjo 65 mins), Watkins, Benrahma
Subs (not used): Daniels, Thompson, Pinnock, Žambůrek, Valencia
Bookings: Nørgaard (78 mins) (second of season)
Attendance: 12,873 (579 Bees fans)