A valiant second half fight back was not quite enough for Brentford as a Steve Fletcher hat-trick gave AFC Bournemouth a 3-2 victory. Two goals from Isaiah Rankin gave Brentford hope but they couldn't find an equaliser.
Brentford rang the changes after their two defeats over the festive period. Scott Fitzgerald returned to the defence, replacing Jamie Lawrence, with Sam Sodje moving to right back. Eddie Hutchinson made his first start of the season in midfield replacing Stewart Talbot. John Salako replaced Jay Tabb and Ben May returned to partner Deon Burton in attack with Steve Claridge dropping to the bench. In the absence of Michael Dobson, Talbot and Kevin O'Connor Chris Hargreaves took the captain's armband.
Brentford found themselves behind before the game had a chance to settle down. Wade Elliott got pas Andrew Frampton and drilled in a shot, Stuart Nelson could only parry it into the path of Fletcher who had the easiest of tasks to give Bournemouth a 5th minute lead.
It could have been two for Bournemouth as Alan Connell raced onto a through ball and knocked it over Nelson, but he was pulled back for offside. Fletcher did get their second and his second with a35th minute goal. Elliott was again the creator, floating a beautiful cross to the back post where Fletcher rose and powered a header into the bottom corner.
John Spicer forced Nelson into a low save, and Warren Cummins fired over the bar after a long run from left back as Bournemouth pushed forward. Neil Young missed a golden chance to put the game beyond Brentford when Fletcher got in behind the Brentford defence and squared to him, but he dragged the ball wide of the gaping goal.
A long range shot from Deon Burton which was off target and one from John Salako which was straight at Neil Moss in the home goal was all Brentford could muster in the first half.
The second half was a completely different story, with Brentford playing the sort of football Martin Allen would have wanted. The Bees boss changed things at half time, bringing on Jay Tabb and Alex Rhodes and moving Rankin up front to partner Ben May.
Rankin repaid his manager in the 50th with a goal out of nothing. A long thrown from Frampton fell to him and he managed to loop the ball over Moss and into the far corner with an overhead effort.
Bournemouth seemed to be rattled by the goal and Brentford's huge second half improvement and when Fletcher completed his hat trick with a 58th minute goal it was against the run of play. Connell picked up a loose ball on the right after a corner and his cross was headed home by Fletcher at the far post.
But Brentford refused to be beaten and came forward again looking for a way back into the game. Sodje headed narrowly wide from a Hargreaves cross in the 62nd minute and three minutes later Rankin had his second goal.
Rhodes knocked the ball into May who's lay off evaded Hutchinson but fell to Rankin who curled it into the top corner from 25 yards.
Bournemouth came close to extending their lead in the games later stages. Spicer forced Nelson into a good save and thenblasted the re-bound over and Elliott also tested Nelson from distance. At the other end Brentford tried to fashion their third goal, and threw Steve Claridge on in an attempt to get it.
Rhodes almost latched on to a loose ball in the penalty area. Hutchinson volleyed over and May had the ball taken off his foot inside the area but the goal would not come.
Brentford: Nelson; Sodje, Turner, Fitzgerald (sub Claridge 85 mins), Frampton; Rankin, Hutchinson, Hargreaves, Salako (sub Tabb 46mins); Burton (sub Rhodes 46mins), May.
Subs (not used): Lawrence, Julian.
Written by Chris Wickham