BRENTFORD 4 TOWN 1
Despite Harry Bunn’s ninth goal of the season putting Town on level terms going into the interval, a brace from Everton loanee Chris Long, a deflected Alex Pritchard strike and a thumping volley from Jon Toral condemned Town to defeat at Brentford on Tuesday evening.
Bunn netted a great strike to give Town hope of getting something from their second trip to London in just four days at half-time, but Brentford bossed possession and finally broke Town’s organised shape in the second 45 minutes at Griffin Park - scoring three goals without reply.
The home side flew out of the blocks and took the lead with the first genuine chance of the game, with striker Chris Long making no mistake.
Brought into the Brentford side at the expense of top scorer Andre Gray, the Everton loanee justified his selection within four minutes by spinning Murray Wallace to enter the area and fire an unstoppable low drive past Alex Smithies’ left side. Although the way he found space was undoubtedly too easy from Town’s perspective, the finish was impressive.
The Bees continued to make the running for the first 20 minutes, with Town indebted to Smithies for keeping them in the game. Alex sprang to action in the ninth minute to deny midfielder Jonathan Douglas a goal after he’d collected a deflected pass from Pritchard into the area, with the shot-stopper smothering the effort at source.
Alex had to be alive again two minutes later when impressive Brentford midfielder Toumani Diagouraga broke into space on a counter-attack and slipped a pass into the area for Long, with the ‘keeper narrowing the angle expertly before taking the eventual shot in the chest.
Mark Warburton’s side continued to enjoy the majority of possession as they probed for a second, only for Town to stun Griffin Park with an equaliser. With the first genuine moment of attacking quality, the recalled Tommy Smith set James Vaughan into space and he expertly found Bunn with an outside of the boot pass.
Having isolated right back Moses Odubajo in the penalty area, Harry sped past on the outside and slammed a hammer of a left foot shot across goalkeeper David Button and into the far corner for his ninth of the campaign – and a first on the road since Derby in November 2014.
Town’s leveller stemmed the flow of big chances for the rest of the half, although there were plenty of shots from range. Brentford bossed the ball but Town’s midfield seemed happy if play remained in front of them, opting to cut out passes to Brentford’s advanced players in and around the area.
At the other end, Vaughan was working tirelessly in his lone striker role and was ably supported by the likes of Bunn and Butterfield in a few promising counter-attacks that ultimately led to nothing.
Jake Carroll came on for his first Town appearance since September 2013 during the interval with Jack Robinson seemingly unable to continue.
Sadly the Irishman - who has subsequently made 19 appearances on loan at Bury and Partick Thistle – couldn’t stop Jota drifting inside him in the 51st minute, which led to Brentford’s important second goal. Having beaten the defender, Jota’s ball into the six yard box caused chaos before sitting up nicely for Long to gleefully hammer into the top corner.
Town kept an organised shape to stay in the game despite the setback, but equally struggled to hold the ball at times in the other half. Harry Bunn’s battle with athletic right back Odubajo was entertaining and well contested, but the Terriers couldn’t truly test Button despite a few promising breaks.
Then came the third 20 minutes from time. It had an air of luck about it, as Diagouraga found Pritchard in space. The diminutive midfielder turned towards goal just over 20 yards out and tried his luck with a pot-shot, which subsequently hit a defender and looped over the stranded Smithies.
Chris Powell opened the game up with 10 minutes left by introducing Ishmael Miller and Conor Coady, but it was to no avail as the game ended in disappointment for Town - Jon Toral thumping a volley home from an added time Pritchard corner.
Town’s team vs Brentford (4-1-4-1):
Alex Smithies; Jack Robinson (Jake Carroll, 46), Murray Wallace, Mark Hudson (c), Tommy Smith; David Edgar (Ishmael Miller, 79); Harry Bunn, Jacob Butterfield, Jonathan Hogg; Sean Scannell (Conor Coady, 79); James Vaughan
Joe Murphy, Joe Lolley, Oscar Gobern, Radoslaw Majewski
Jacob Butterfield (39); Harry Bunn (45); Mark Hudson (67)