Brentford suffered their second consecutive 3-2 reverse as BristolCity picked up their first points away from home with a win at GriffinPark. The visitors led 2-0 at the break and despite a stirring second half fight back Brentford could not quite get the third goal and earn themselves a point.
Brentford made two changes to the team which lost at Huddersfield last week with Lloyd Owusu replacing Scott Fitzgerald and Karleigh Osborne replacing the suspended Andrew Frampton. Sam Tillen moved from right back, where he played last week, to take Frampton's position at left back with Osborne on the right. They also welcomed back Alex Rhodes from injury, and he was fit enough to take a place amongst the substitutes.
Brentford opened brightly and Marcus Gayle headed over from Tillen's cross but it was the visitors who took the lead, in the 12th minute, with their first attack. Scott Brown worked the ball back to Craig Woodman who swung a cross to the far post; Guy Madio headed it back across goal where Marcus Stewart was waiting to nod the ball home.
BristolCity seemed happy with that lead and scarcely left their half for the next twenty minutes; Brentford had lots of possession but could not break down the solid Robin's defence and were hit with a sucker punch when they found themselves 2-0 down in the 40th minute. Luke Wilkshire curled a free-kick past Stuart Nelson and into the top corner from 25 yards. The home side tried to get back into it before the break but Marcus Gayle had a volley deflected over and Owusu had a header saved by Steve Phillips.
The second half proved to be much more entertaining than the first with Brentford committing men forward and Bristol City attacking with pace on the counter. Bees boss Martin Allen made two changes during the interval with Dudley Campbell and Paul Brooker replacing Isaiah Rankin and Owusu. The two subs almost combined to great effect eight minutes after the break when Brooker opened the visitors up with a surging run, he slipped the ball through to Campbell but Matthew Heywood got across and got a tackle in.
As more men were pushed forward chances came at both ends, Osborne did well to stop Stewart adding a second when he went clear and Nelson then denied Wilkshire his second with a fine save. Campbell almost set up Tabb but was fractionally too heavy with the through ball and at the other end Stewart almost added a third for the visitors when a scissor kick volley flew narrowly wide. Madio then headed wide after Dave Cotterill swung in a cross.
BristolCity should have sealed the win in the 64th minute when a delightful flick from Madio set Cotterill away, he rolled the ball across the face of goal where Stewart was waiting but Sodje got a touch to the ball before it reached Stewart and he spooned the ball over the bar. Three minutes later Brentford were back in it. Michael Turner fired a long free kick forward, Gayle knocked it down and as the visiting defenders dithered Brooker stole in to knock the ball home and score his first Brentford goal.
BristolCity then brought Steve Brooker into the fray, replacing Stewart and he was in the thick of things immediately as he cleared the ball from under his own bar as Darren Pratley looked set to meet Tabb's free kick at the far post. The visitors almost got a third with twenty minutes to go when Brown sped away from the home defence and knocked the ball across Nelson but Turner was in the right place to clear the danger, however it only delayed it by two minutes.
BristolCity kept the ball and worked the ball to the by-line where Brown swung the ball across and Brooker headed home off the underside of the bar. They had a golden opportunity to add a fourth goal three minutes later when they created an opening for Cotterill; he attempted to round Nelson and went down under the challenge of the Bees' keeper. Referee Wright awarded a penalty and Wilkshire stepped up but Nelson dived low to his left and saved the spot kick.
Brentford attempted to make them pay for their profligacy and an interchange of passes between Tabb and Brooker set up a shooting opportunity for the latter but Phillips saved the shot. With 12 minutes remaining Brentford pulled one back, a quick free kick was worked out to the right wing where Brooker stood a cross up to the far post; Sodje rose above Phillips and headed home. Alex Rhodes then replaced Pratley and received a rapturous welcome as Brentford pushed forward for a winner.
Sodje headed over from a Tabb corner and Rhodes had a fantastic opportunity to equalise and make it a fairytale return. Tabb created the chance with a brilliant ball, which split the defence wide open, Rhodes raced onto it and as Phillips advanced he got a shot away but it floated narrowly wide. Brentford forced a series of corners near the end and utilised Sodje as an emergency centre forward but could not force their way through.
Brentford: Nelson; Osborne, Turner, Sodje, Tillen; Tabb, Pratley (sub Rhodes 78 mins), Lewis, Rankin (sub Campbell h/t); Owusu (sub Brooker h/t), Gayle
Subs (not used): Bankole, Fitzgerald
Written by Chris Wickham