Brentford erased memories of their heaviest league defeat of the season with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Southend United at Griffin Park. Two first half goals proved the difference as The Bees extended their winning streak to five games.
Brentford welcomed back Andrew Frampton and Isaiah Rankin after injury while Marcus Gayle also came into the starting eleven to partner Rankin up front. John Mousinho, Calum Willock and Lloyd Owusu were left out of the team which beat BristolCity on Saturday, taking places on the bench. The return of Frampton meant Tillen moved forward to play on the left side of midfield, Jay Tabb stepped inside to join Ricky Newman in central midfield and Darren Pratley switched to the right side.
Brentford were determined to show their visitors that the return game at Roots Hall was not a true reflection of the teams' relative strength and they held the upper hand in the early stages. A fourth minute shot from Mark Gower, which stung the palms of Stuart Nelson, was all Southend offered. The Bees could have got their noses in front in the eighth minute when Tillen broke through the United midfield and spread the ball wide to Pratley, but he pulled his shot across goal and Rankin and Gayle could not turn it home.
Brentford passed the ball well in the first twenty minutes and created a few openings, Sam Sodje failed to capitalise on the best of them when he rose unmarked to meet a Tabb free kick and headed it straight at Darryl Flahavan in the Southend goal. When The Bees took the lead in the 23rd minute it was no more than they deserved.
Newman robbed Adam Barrett in midfield and Brentford broke forward with numbers, the Bees' skipper found Rankin in the inside right channel and although his shot towards the far post beat Flahavan it appeared to be heading wide before Duncan Jupp sliced it into his own goal.
That goal only served to boost the home side and with Gayle and Rankin excellent up front Southend struggled to get much of the ball. Gayle could have doubled the lead when he met a Tillen cross but Flahavan gathered. Sodje thought he had done so when he flicked on a Kevin O'Connor long throw, but Flahavan tipped over and Brentford's Nigerian defender came even closer from the resulting corner, Pratley curled it in, Michael Turner flicked it on and Sodje's header was tipped onto the crossbar by Flahavan, Tabb and Rankin were unable to get the ball past the mass of bodies on the line as it dropped loose.
It seemed certain that Brentford would get a second and it came moments later when another Pratley corner found Gayle unmarked inside the six yard box, he powered a header past Flahavan to score his first goal since returning to Brentford last season.
Southend were struggling to deal with Brentford's hunger and movement and it took a great last ditch tackle from Efe Sodje to prevent Rankin racing clear and adding a third for the home side and Flahavan had to be alert to hold a Tabb free kick as half time approached. The Shrimpers could have pulled one back late in the half when Mark Bentley stole in at the far post to meet a Gower cross but he wastefully ballooned his shot over the bar.
The second half continued along the same path the first had taken with Brentford dominating possession and creating the chances and although Southend were quicker on the ball they could do little to stem the red and white tide. Flahavan was called into action early on to block a Frampton shot, and Sodje went close with two headers. The visitors were forced into illegal methods of stopping The Bees and Luke Guttridge was deservedly cautioned for a cynical foul on Tabb.
As the game wore on Southend searched for a way back into the game, Freddy Eastwood brought a save from Nelson with a fierce volley from the edge of the box and hit the post moments later when he latched onto a long Spencer Prior free kick. Brentford replied in kind when Pratley smashed a 30 yard free kick against the cross bar and Rankin also brought a save from Flahavan after Owusu had put him through late on. Despite late pressure Southend never looked likely to find a way back into the game and Brentford's victorious run continued.
Brentford: Nelson; O'Connor, Turner, Sodje, Frampton; Pratley, Newman, Tabb, Tillen; Gayle (sub Owusu 72 mins), Rankin
Subs (not used): Peters, Mousinho, Willock, Bankole
Written by Chris Wickham