Brentford and Walsall shared the points in a goalless draw at The Bescot Stadium, both teams pushed hard but neither could make the breakthrough as the defences won the day.
Brentford made two changes to the team which lost at home to Bristol City on Saturday with Andrew Frampton returning after suspension and Paul Brooker restored to the starting eleven after two games on the bench. Karleigh Osborne and Marcus Gayle made way with Sam Tillen moving to right back and Isaiah Rankin partnering Lloyd Owusu up front.
Walsall started the game quickly and Paul Merson created an opportunity for them inside the first two minutes. His low corner picked out Anthony Gerrard who turned and shot but it hit Jorge Leitao and deflected away from goal. Merson again picked up the loose ball and floated it back in, Matty Fryatt was waiting but couldn't find the finish. Two minutes later it seemed as if Merson had given the home side the lead when his curled free kick from 25 yards beat the defensive wall and Stuart Nelson, fortunately for Brentford it sailed inches wide.
After the home side's fast start Brentford began to get a foothold in the game with Frampton getting to grips with player-manager Merson. They created their first opening in the 14th when Walsall failed to deal with a long ball into their penalty area, Rankin read it well but Daniel Fox was slightly quicker and headed it clear. From the resulting corner Sam Sodje rose to meet Jay Tabb's delivery but Craig Pead was in the right place at the right time to clear it off the line.
Brentford created a golden opportunity following the best move of the match just before the half hour. Junior Lewis picked the ball up after a series of nice incisive passes and found Rankin in space inside the box, his lay off was perfect for Darren Pratley but he couldn't find the right finish and the ball sailed wide.
Chances came at both ends before the interval, Michael Husbands shot woefully wide after a nice turn created space on the edge of the box. Rankin steered a shot wide from a narrow angle after racing onto an Owusu flick and then shot wide from 20 yards after finding space just outside the box. A minute before the interval Leitao played a ball through to Husbands but Nelson was quickly off his line and saved at his feet.
Despite the high tempo of the first half there weren't too many clear cut chances created. After the break Walsall came out strongly but Brentford weathered the short storm and had a great chance in the 54th minute. Owusu won a free kick which Tabb drilled to the far post where Sodje was in yards of space. His header back across goal was wide of the far post and Rankin and Pratley arriving late could not turn it in.
Two minutes later Paul Brooker's turn and pass sent Rankin away but Anthony Gerrard came across to make a good tackle. At the other end Michael Turner produced an even better tackle as Leitao found space following a long ball forward. Walsall goalkeeper John Ruddy produced a great save to deny Rankin who let fly on the volley from 25 yards.
Brentford made two changes bringing Alex Rhodes and Dudley Campbell into the game and created the two combined to create the best chance of the game in the 77th minute. Campbell's lay off sent Rhodes away and he skipped past Pead, he drilled in a cross which Campbell met four yards out but somehow Ruddy managed to get something on it and deny the visitors.
Leitao had two chances at the other end, firstly when he picked the ball up 40 yards out and let fly after a short run, the ball flew wide. And secondly when he met Mark Wright's cross but Nelson dived to his right and kept out the header. With three minutes remaining Walsall might have snatched it, Fox crossed to the far post where Paul Smith headed back across goal, Leitao was just unable to reach it and turn it in. Owusu and Campbell both headed over in the dying moments as neither team could find the winner.
Brentford: Nelson; Tillen (sub Campbell 71 mins), Sodje, Turner, Frampton; Brooker, Lewis, Pratley, Tabb (sub Rhodes 67 mins); Owusu (sub Gayle 90 mins), Rankin
Subs (not used): Peters, Bankole
Written by Chris Wickham