Brentford climbed to the top of the embryonic League One table, with a comfortable 3-1 win at Saltergate against Chesterfield. Isaiah Rankin's two goals inside three second-half minutes was the difference between the teams, meaning Paul Hall's goal for Chesterfield to equalise Sam Sodje's early header was incidental.
Brentford stuck with the same team that started the game against Scunthorpe United on Saturday. Dudley Campbell, who made one goal and scored another against The Iron remained on the bench, which also contained Sam Tillen and new loan signing Joe Keenan, replacing Michael Dobson and Scott Fitzgerald.
Brentford started brightly in the evening sunshine, Jay Tabb shot wide inside the first ten minutes and Paul Brooker's run down the right almost created a goal for Tabb who was denied by Barry Roche in the home goal, the ball dropped to Eddie Hutchinson on the edge of the area but his powerful shot was deflected for a corner. Brooker floated the corner in and Sodje rose at the near post to flick the ball home and give Brentford the lead in the 14th minute. Brentford deserved their lead and continued to work hard and spread the play well as they tried to preserve it. However, Chesterfield were level twelve minutes later. A cross dropped to Mark Debolla inside the 6 yard box, his lay off found Mark Allott whose shot found its way to Hall, who picked his spot and beat Stuart Nelson from 8 yards.
The game opened up after the equaliser and chances came at both ends. Wayne Allison flicked a Roche goal kick into the path of DeBolla but Kevin O'Connor blocked his shot. Sodje headed wide from another Bees corner and Rankin and Tabb combined to set up Lloyd Owusu who shot straight at Roche.
The game continued to be hardly fought, so much so that both teams had to replace a player inside the first 40 minutes. Aaron Downes was replaced by Alan O'Hare for the Spireites, while Sam Tillen came on for his League debut replacing Oli Skulason for Brentford. This meant Tabb had to move into a central position.
The chances continued to come at both ends. Hutchinson had a shot deflected wide after good work from Rankin and Brooker, and Tillen shot over after Owusu's lay off. At the other end, a Steve Blatherwick header seemed to be presenting a great chance for DeBolla before Owusu got in a clearance and Allison then headed weakly at Nelson.
As half time approached Owusu's lay off presented Andrew Frampton with the chance to cross, his ball landed on the head of Rankin but the effort drifted narrowly over. Rankin then had a shot saved and Frampton shot over from distance seconds before the whistle.
Brentford might have felt hard done by to only be level at half time and they took that frustration out on Chesterfield at the start of the second half. Another near post corner from Brooker almost resulted in a goal for Michael Turner but his header was flicked narrowly over. The Bees didn't have to wait long for their second goal; it came in the 51st minute. Owusu won the ball well in the air and picked it up as it dropped, his ball found Rankin with his back to goal. Rankin turned and curled a shot from 25 yards to perfection, over Roche and into the top corner.
Chesterfield went straight down the other end and could have equalised again, Allison's lay off to Smith resulted in a stinging low shot from 25 yards that Nelson did well to turn away at the near post. Brentford came within a whisker of extending their lead two minutes after they scored. O'Connor measured a header through to Owusu who got a shot away, Roche got a strong hand on it but as Rankin looked set to pounce, Blatherwick cleared.
The Bees frontman did not have to wait too much longer for his goal though as a minute later and just three minutes after his first he had it. Reacting quickly as the ball dropped 10 yards from goal he squirmed a shot into the far corner to give Brentford a 3-1 lead. He could even have had a hat trick just before the hour mark, again wriggling free inside the area, but this time his shot cannoned away off Brooker.
Chesterfield threw bodies into the Bees area and resorted to a less than subtle approach to getting back into the game. As a result there were lots of physical challenges and a few shouts from the home side for a penalty, all heard by referee Foy. Martin Allen introduced Keenan for his debut and switched to a 4-5-1 system.
Bees substitute Campbell could have put an even more emphatic gloss on the score line when he raced on to Tillen's flick from a Nelson goal kick. His pace took him clear but Roche denied the Brentford striker and they had to settle for a 3-1 win and top spot in League One.
Brentford: Nelson; O'Connor, Sodje, Turner, Frampton; Brooker (sub Keenan 69 mins), Hutchinson, Skulason (sub Tillen 37 mins), Tabb; Owusu, Rankin (sub Campbell 85 mins)
Subs (not used): Gayle, Bankole
Written by Chris Wickham