Brentford 0 West Brom 1
Brentford were denied their eighth successive home victory at Griffin Park in a defeat which stalls the momentum of Thomas Frank’s side.
Any hopes the Bees had of an outside tilt at making the Championship play-offs were largely extinguished when Albion debutant Kyle Edwards was allowed to forage into the penalty area to score the only goal of the game in the 51st minute.
Frank will be frustrated at the outcome with Brentford’s usual industry unfortunately underpinned with a lack of a cutting edge, although it should be said that the Baggies had their very impressive goalkeeper Sam Johnstone to thank on several occasions. Such disappointment for the hosts is particularly exacerbated following a loss at Sheffield United in midweek.
The Bees, who were sitting 14th in the table, made just the one change from the line-up that lost at Sheffield United on Tuesday, with Sergi Canos coming in to start and Ollie Watkins dropping to the bench. It was actually the first time the teams had met at Griffin Park since August 1998.
Benrahma was the first to spark the hosts when the in-form Algerian tested Johnstone with a low drive in the fifth minute. Promotion hopefuls Albion, under interim manager Jimmy Shan, have a good record on their travels, but were forced on constant alert amid Brentford’s initial verve. Both the neat and tidy Canos and Neal Maupay were causing Albion problems.
Johnstone did well to smother a sharp 20-yard, fizzing effort from Benrahma after 20 minutes as the Bees enjoyed a reasonable spell without any major conviction, Albion managing to hold firm. At the other end, Edwards and Mason Holgate caused brief stirs, with respectable attempts to break the deadlock.
The Bees’ first half intricacy was illustrated when Julian Jeanvier fired over with Canos and Maupay once again weaving danger within the Baggies’ penalty area. Busy Johnstone did well to deny Jeanvier with an important block as Brentford accelerated the pace as is now customary at home this season.
It was then Yoann Barbet’s turn to test Johnstone – but the Albion keeper made a quite spectacular save to palm away the defender’s expertly-driven angled free kick. Shan certainly had his number one to thank for frustrating the Bees before the interval.
For all their pressing, Brentford were always susceptible to a counter-attack – and they were raided in quite stunning fashion six minutes into the second half.
Collecting a Stefan Johansen pass on the right, debutant Edwards was allowed to weave inwards, past a number of passive Bees defenders before slipping the ball past Luke Daniels from seven yards. An intervention of huge importance for Albion; a stunning blow for Brentford.
Minutes later, Daniels impressively tipped over a Ahmed Hegazi strike before subsequently spooning away a dangerous Daniels set piece, with Brentford clearly still disjointed from the freshly emboldened visitors.
To their credit, the Bees attempted to respond but it became increasingly clear that the litany of chances normally created at home were lacking against an increasingly well-organised Albion rearguard. Benrahma and Maupay, in particular, were well policed and Daniels prevented Dwight Gayle from adding a second for Albion.
Ultimately, Brentford faded – leaving them with harsh lessons to be learned in terms of making capital from early assertion.