Brentford got back to winning ways with a fine 2-0 victory over Huddersfield Town at Griffin Park despite playing the majority of the game with ten men. The Bees were hit by the sending off of their captain Ricky Newman early in proceedings but took the lead soon after through Lloyd Owusu. Dudley Campbell sealed the win in the closing stages after the visitors had also been reduced to ten men, goalkeeper Paul Rachubka dismissed for a professional foul.
Martin Allen was forced into one change from the team which had performed superbly against NottinghamForest four days ago with Marcus Gayle missing with a hamstring injury. Sam Tillen took his place on the left side of midfield with Eddie Hutchinson, available again after suspension, taking a place on the substitute's bench.
With both teams near the top of the table the game was always likely to be close and competitive, and in the early stages both pushed forward, though neither were able to carve out a clear-cut chance. The first effort on goal came in the sixth minute, Michael Turner's header comfortably gathered by Rachubka, Owusu shot wide after a Campbell flick and The Bees came closer still when Turner nodded on a Jay Tabb corner, but Campbell couldn't get on the end of it.
The game changed dramatically in the 17th minute when Tabb challenged with Chris Brandon for a high ball, the ball dropped to Mark Hudson who volleyed towards goal, Newman went to block the shot and landed on the head of Brandon. Brandon was replaced by Michael Collins, and required ten stitches in his cut. Referee Stroud decided Newman had stamped on Brandon and produced a red card.
The dismissal forced Brentford into a re-shuffle with Andrew Frampton moving into central midfield, Sam Tillen to left back, Isaiah Rankin to left midfield and Campbell to the right side. Despite these changes Brentford were still playing well and got their noses in front in the 25th minute. Owusu won a free-kick on the edge of the box and Kevin O'Connor's shot was palmed away by Rachubka, Campbell latched onto it, cut it back to Owusu who rolled it home from six yards.
Huddersfield were unable to make their man advantage count, keeping the ball well but not hurting the home side. They were restricted mainly to shots from distance, Andy Holdsworth shot wide from 25 yards and a weak shot from Collins was comfortably saved by Ademola Bankole while Sam Sodje was called on to make a last ditch header to prevent Danny Schofield going clear. Brentford could have doubled their lead when a lay off from Owusu was picked up by Rankin, he slipped in through to Campbell, who ran clear, but he pulled his shot across the face of goal.
Referee Stroud evened the sides up two minutes after the re-start when he sent off Rachubka. Brentford broke quickly after Rankin won the ball off substitute John McAliskey and played a one-two with Tabb. His pass carved the visitors defence wide open and Campbell raced clear, Rachubka came to meet him and appeared to get the ball, as well as Campbell. Mr Stroud deemed it to be a foul and had no alternative but to dismiss Rachubka.
Phillip Senior was brought on to replace Collins and his first action was to palm down a Tabb free-kick. Huddersfield were passing the ball well but still created very little, their main outlet was Danny Schofield and he produced two dangerous crosses, the first forced Bankole to tip over, the second flew across the face of goal. Rankin almost added a second on the break when he ran from deep, but Nathan Clarke produced a good block.
Brentford's solid back line were keeping the Huddersfield forwards in check and the visitors were restricted once again to long range shots, Hudson lined two up in the space of two minutes but the residents of Ealing Road were under more threat than Bankole.
Martin Allen made a couple of substitutions to shore the game up, Hutchinson replaced Frampton in midfield and Paul Brooker came on for the Owusu, who had led the line excellently. This pushed Campbell into a forward position once more and he doubled Brentford's lead with thirteen minutes remaining. His shot from 25 yards seemed to be comfortable for Senior but he inexplicably let it through his grasp and it nestled in the bottom corner.
Rankin had a shot from 20 yards which the visitors' goalkeeper did manage to save and Campbell could have sealed the win when he played a one-two with Brooker, but his shot was weak and Senior fell on it. He had a shot later on which drifted wide while at the other end Gary Taylor-Fletcher had a weak header saved by Stuart Nelson, who replaced Bankole when it seemed he was suffering with a hamstring injury, and Jonathan Worthington blasted high and wide. Despite five minutes of stoppage time Huddersfield could not break through and Brentford climb above them and into fourth place in Coca-Cola League One.
Brentford: Bankole (sub Nelson 72 mins); O'Connor, Turner, Sodje, Frampton (sub Hutchinson 53 mins); Rankin, Newman, Tabb, Tillen; Owusu (sub Brooker 67 mins), Campbell
Subs (not used): Mousinho, Fitzgerald
Written by Chris Wickham