REPORT: BRENTFORD 0-1 TOWNAnother good performance against a dangerous opponent in Brentford secured an important win at Griffin Park on a sunny London afternoon, sealed by a deflected first-half strike.
Rajiv van La Parra will be claiming his second in Town colours – and his first on the road – although the ball took a big deflection off Brentford skipper Harlee Dean on its way into the net.
Both teams had chances on the afternoon, but Town controlled general play better than the hosts for most of the afternoon and kept the Bees at bay as the game ended.
The win at Griffin Park was a sixth away victory for David Wagner’s side in the last nine away games; a run that only includes one defeat. It also featured a second successive clean sheet for the side.
As expected, both sides played an energetic brand of football, pressing hard out of possession, and passing on the ground whenever possible.
However, the Bees dropped into a deeper block when Town gained proper possession, which allowed the Terriers to build from the back through Schindler and Hefele.
Despite this, the Town game plan was almost undone inside four minutes through an error. Philip Billing – in for Aaron Mooy – misplaced a pass straight to Brentford dangerman Jota and the Spaniard dribbled to the edge of the box before firing goalwards, with the returning Danny Ward needed to push the ball away at full stretch to his left side.
Town soon settled into a rhythm, with van La Parra inches away from setting Wells clear with a clever flick that goalkeeper Darren Bentley did well to smother.
Billing was soon in action at the other end, finding Tommy Smith out on the right. He took one touch before firing a superb low cross into the danger zone, where Jack Payne got in front of the centre back. He nudged the ball goalwards, but Bentley got a strong hand to the ball low to his right.
Brentford still carried a threat and it took a block from Jonathan Hogg to send striker Lasse Vibe’s 25-yard effort looping over the crossbar after a speedy counter-attack.
By this stage, however, Town was in control of the game. Only a poor final decision from Wells and then Kachunga prevented Wagner’s men from creating guilt-edged opportunities – but the goal soon came.
Although the goal may be taken away from him by the dubious goals panel, van La Parra deserved huge credit for the 28th minute opener. After getting back to win the ball and win a foul from a Brentford player, he stayed alive and found space down the flank for Chris Löwe to quickly clip the ball into his path.
The Dutchman easily skipped past Jota onto his right foot before whipping a dangerous effort goalwards and although Bentley got hands to the ball, it looked like the ball cannoned off a defender before bouncing into the empty net.
Brentford came back into the game for a spell, with a superb back-post header from Schindler denying an equaliser after attack-minded left back Rico Henry got past Kachunga and stood a cross up.
Former Walsall defender Henry looked happiest when coming forward and went close himself a minute later, beating Kachunga on the edge of the box with a superb bit of skill before sending a piledriver of a shot inches wide of Ward’s left-hand post.
At the other end, Kachunga caused Henry equal problems and he struck back 60 seconds later. After Payne fed him a pass by the corner flag, the German squeezed past Henry and midfielder Ryan Woods before shooting from a narrow angle. The effort was blocked into the path of Wells, who did excellently to quickly switch the ball onto his left before firing over.
Brentford’s best spell of the game came shortly after the interval, when Town’s players rode their luck. There was still time for Wells to go very close to a second, with only Dean’s toe stopping him from placing Kachunga’s excellent low ball home at close range.
The Brentford’s best two chances came. First Henry got away from Kachunga again and slid a pass in behind Smith for winger Jozefzoon to latch onto. His pull back was perfectly into the path of Vibe, but somehow the Dane sent his effort into orbit when completely unmarked on the penalty spot.
From the resulting goal kick, the otherwise excellent Hogg was caught in possession on the edge of the Town box. Thankfully Schindler did a superb job of splitting the man on the ball and the free Brentford player, deflecting Vibe’s shot onto the roof of the net.
Backed by the superb, vocal away support, Town rallied and gained a level of control. The game settled down and Town created chances again, with Billing soon heading over from Löwe’s corner.
It looked like a 72nd minute own goal had sealed the game in Town’s favour, but the woodwork came to the rescue. Second half sub Izzy Brown fired a pass into Kachunga on the edge of the box and he did well to push it into Wells’ path; the striker’s low cross hit Dean on the shins and cannoned off the near post with Kachunga waiting to pounce.
Brentford brought big striker Philipp Hofmann on for the final 10 minutes to change things up, but the Terriers’ defence kept the play away from their goal. Instead the final big opportunity went to Town as Wells outmuscled Dean to latch onto a ball over the top, before fellow centre back Egan did very well to deflect his near post shot inches wide. In truth, Brown was the better option for a pass in the centre.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Danny Ward; Chris Löwe, Christopher Schindler, Michael Hefele, Tommy Smith (c); Philip Billing (Aaron Mooy, 57’), Jonathan Hogg; Rajiv van La Parra (Martin Cranie, 86’), Jack Payne (Isaiah Brown 46’), Elias Kachunga; Nahki Wells
Joel Coleman, Mark Hudson, Joe Lolley, Collin Quaner