A Jay Tabb goal direct from a corner gave Brentford their first win of the Christmas and New Year period as Walsall were beaten 1-0 at Griffin Park. The score line could have been greater as Brentford created numerous chances and played some great football, especially in the first half.
Martin Allen made three changes from the team defeated in Bournemouth. Tabb and Alex Rhodes came into midfield, with Isaiah Rankin replacing Ben May in attack. Jamie Lawrence resumed his role at right back with Sam Sodje moving inside to replace Scott Fitzgerald.
Brentford attacked with vigour and purpose in the opening twenty minutes, with Eddie Hutchinson and Deon Burton at the centre of most of the Bees good work. Hutchinson shot wide after two minutes and later he and Burton combined to release Rhodes behind the Walsall back line, but goalkeeper Joe Murphy rushed from his line to smother at his feet.
Hutchinson headed wide on eight minutes, Burton headed straight at Murphy, Rhodes had a shot superbly saved by the Saddlers keeper and Frampton had an effort cleared off the line as Brentford dominated the early stages. Chris Hargreaves dragged a shot wide in the 22nd minute and Burton hit the foot of the post with a left footed shot a minute later after turning Neil Emblen inside out when Hutchinson played him in. Brentford's goal had to come and it did, in the 25th minute.
Tabb swung in a corner from the right with his left foot, Hargreaves missed an attempted header and Murphy couldn't keep it out giving Tabb his second goal of the season and his first since August. The Bees continued to pour forward, Hutchinson had a shot saved by Murphy at the near post after Rhodes lay-off and Rhodes himself shot over from ten yards after Burton had headed into his path. Hutchinson also headed over from a Rhodes cross as the half drew to a close with Brentford ahead.
Walsall offered little in the first forty-five and it was Tabb who came closest to scoring for them, a clearing header was arrowing inside the post before Stuart Nelson dived full length to keep it out. Nelson also produced a fine save to deny Jorge Leitao after he raced on to a Mark Kinsella through ball.
The second half was a more even affair, but Brentford still could have added to their goal. Rhodes dragged a shot wide after Burton had put him through and had another shot from distance, which was off target. Michael Turner came close to his first Brentford goal when he headed over from a Jay Tabb corner.
Walsall had chances too, Mark Wright pulled a shot wide of goal after Leitao headed into his path and Sodje had to make a good tackle to prevent Daryl Taylor getting a shot on target. The closest the visitors came to snatching a point was in the 89th minute. Substitute Marvin Robinson worked some space for Zigor Aranalde but Nelson was equal to his shot and kept his side ahead. Hargreaves and Burton had shots off target but a second goal wouldn't come and Brentford had to settle for a 1-0 win.
Line-up: Nelson; Lawrence, Sodje, Turner, Frampton; Tabb, Hutchinson, Hargreaves, Rhodes (sub May 69 mins); Rankin, Burton.
Subs (not used): Fitzgerald, Salako, Claridge, Julian
Written by Chris Wickham