A poor first half performance condemned Brentford to a home defeat at the hands of Reading. The Bees started brightly on a late August afternoon against their visitors from a few junctions long the M4 but found themselves 2-0 down just past the half hour as Orlando Sá and Nick Blackman scored.
And Brentford could find no way back despite a second half fightback. The introduction of Alan McCormack before half time and Josh Clarke at the break saw The Bees much improved but did not prevent Reading taking the points and but for David Button Brentford could have had an even worse afternoon.
Lasse Vibe’s first Brentford goal gave his team hope and there were chances to level as Reading sank deeper. But Blackman won and converted a penalty deep in to stoppage time to ensure his side took the points with a 3-1 win.
The Bees probably had the better of the first ten minutes after early shots from Reading duo Sá and Danny Williams were blocked. Konstantin Kerschbaumer had a sight of goal after good work by Vibe but lashed over. And when Judge and Kerschbaumer created space on the right for Vibe, his low cross was just ahead of Philipp Hoffman, allowing Reading goalkeeper Jonathan Bond to gather.
But Reading soon got in to their stride. They had pace in abundance in attack and were happy to stretch The Bees in behind. Stephen Quinn popped up all over the pitch and was often in the centre of field to give the visitors an extra man in that area, matching Brentford up.
Judge was playing a slightly more advanced role, getting closer to Hofmann but Kerschbaumer and Toumani Diagouraga were struggling to cope with Reading’s lilac tide and the visitors took control. Button saved a Williams shot and when Hal Robson-Kanu intercepted a cross field pass and released Blackman, the striker cut in off the right and smashed a shot against the crossbar.
The opening goal appeared imminent and it came when, after good work on the left involving Quinn, Robson-Kanu delivered a cross for Sá to get up and head home from close range. It could have been two moments later when Quinn got away from his man but Button pushed away the fierce shot and the Brentford goalkeeper then clawed away a Robson-Kanu header from the resulting corner.
Button then produced a wondrous double save to deny the visitors again. After a Robson-Kanu cross was returned to the middle by Quinn, Williams let fly from 20 yards and Button got down to save before jumping up to turn away Blackman’s follow-up.
James Tarkowski saw a header deflected wide but just past the half hour it was 2-0. Blackman was pulled back by Tarkowski as he went to run on to a through ball and he picked himself up to curl the free kick in to the top corner from 20 yards, giving Button no chance.
The introduction of McCormack a few moments later steadied the ship for The Bees and Clarke came on at half time as Brentford switched to a 4-4-2 and tried to inject some pace. Robson-Kanu also left the fray at the break, albeit Reading substitute Gareth McCleary was not ready to come on until the second period was a minute old.
The tactical switch saw Vibe moved up to partner Hofmann and, with Clarke also an outlet, Brentford suddenly had more pace in attacking areas. The hosts looked to hit Clarke in the early stages of the half and Jordan Obita was forced back in to a more defensive position.
Oliver Norwood fired wide soon after half time for Reading but it was a different game. McCormack provided bite in midfield and Brentford were getting the ball in good areas with pace to utilise in the final third.
Vibe had a shot blocked and then shot just over after good work from Jake Bidwell on the left. Harlee Dean nodded a corner over and it took a great toe-end tackle from Paul McShane to prevent Vibe getting on to a Kerschbaumer pass and going through on goal.
The goal Brentford had been threatening came midway through the second half. Vibe picked up a ball forward 25 yards out and turned before curling a shot in off the post.
Reading looked to reassert their authority – Sá shot over when finding space on the left and a Williams effort was saved – but the visitors were nervous. Brentford were pushing deep in to opposition territory and Reading sat deeper and deeper.
Chances started to come for The Bees as they looked for a leveller. Judge fired a free kick over the bar before a Vibe header was blocked and McCormack smashed the loose ball over. A Dean shot was blocked while, on a rare Reading attack, Button saved at the feet of McCleary at the other end.
Sam Saunders was introduced for his first Brentford appearance since February in the dying stages as Brentford chased the game and Reading tried to slow it down and take the points. And with Chris Gunter and Bond taking bookings for time-wasting, they just about managed to do it.
Brentford had chances, however. Saunders fired wide from the edge of the box and when Bidwell delivered a cross from the left, Dean’s header was blocked and Vibe was just unable to turn the ball home from close range.
But as Brentford pressed, Reading sealed the match on the counter-attack. Williams got away on the right and delivered the ball to Blackman. The striker was brought down by Button as he tried to go round him and referee Andrew Madley pointed to the spot. Button was shown a yellow card and dived the wrong way as Blackman’s penalty sealed the win nine minutes in to added time.
Brentford: Button; Colin, Dean, Tarkowski, Bidwell; Diagouraga (sub McCormack 37 mins), Kerschbaumer (sub Saunders 82 mins), Judge; Vibe, Hofmann, Gogia (sub Clarke h/t)
Subs (not used): Bonham, Barbet, O'Connell, Udumaga
Bookings: Tarkowski (31 mins), McCormack (53 mins) (second of season), Hofmann (59 mins), Bidwell (84 mins), Button (90 mins)
Reading: Bond; Gunter, McShane, Ferdinand, Obita; Robson-Kanu (sub McCleary 47 mins), Norwood (sub Hector 90 mins), Williams, Quinn; Sá (sub Tshibola 82 mins), Blackman
Subs (not used): Al-Habsi, Hurtado, Fernández, Cox
Bookings: Obita (21 mins), Gunter (87 mins), Bond (90 mins)
Attendance: 10,206 (1,644 away fans)