Brentford suffered their first league defeat in six games with a 1-0 home defeat to Port Vale. The visitors took the lead ten minutes before half time and held on as The Bees applied intense second half pressure at a blustery Griffin Park.
The Bees made three changes to the team that were knocked out of the FA Cup at Charlton last week. John Mousinho came in to deputise for the injured Kevin O'Connor, while Sam Tillen and Lloyd Owusu dropped to the bench to be replaced by Isaiah Rankin and Paul Brooker. Brentford also welcomed Alex Rhodes back after injury and he joined Calum Willock on the substitute's bench.
Port Vale had the advantage of a strong following wind in the first 45 minutes and used it to good effect. They dominated the first half and created numerous chances. Sam Togwell shot wide inside the first 60 seconds and Jeff Smith wasted an opportunity by shooting wide after good work by Leon Constantine, the former Brentford striker then shot wide moments later.
Brentford hadn't made the best of starts, struggling to deal with the windy conditions but Jay Tabb did create a chance for Paul Brooker, which the winger couldn't convert, Michael Turner flicked a header wide soon after but it was soon the visitors in the ascendancy again.
Michael Cummins played a delightful one-two with Nathan Lowndes before curling a shot against a post, Stuart Nelson saved well from Smith and Lowndes wasted a golden opportunity when he pulled a shot across the face of goal. At the other end Brooker had a volley saved and Tabb curled a free kick over the bar.
Port Vale's pressure eventually told in the 36th minute when Smith picked up a loose ball 25 yards out and lofted a half volley over Nelson and into the far corner of the net. The Brentford goalkeeper had to be alert to save a drilled shot from Cummins and keep the deficit to one at the break.
The second half was a completely different story with Brentford, now with the wind, in complete control of the game. They should have been level within two minutes of the re-start when Brooker reacted quickest to a Marcus Gayle flick, he skipped round Mark Goodlad, the Vale keeper, but failed to get a shot away from a narrowing angle and the massed ranks of defenders that filed back onto the line were able to clear his cross.
Goodlad almost presented the home side with an equaliser moments later when he was stranded out of his goal after a poor clearance, the ball dropped to Tabb who drilled it back past the back peddling goalkeeper, but the ball flew wide. The visiting defence was becoming increasingly stretched and overworked as the game went on, Goodlad saved from Tabb and Turner headed against the crossbar from a long Ricky Newman free kick.
Brentford continued to apply pressure, Goodlad saved from Owusu, who replaced Mousinho on the hour, and the striker flicked a header wide moments later. Constantine could have sealed the points when he raced clear on the left, he cut inside but shot straight at Nelson. He was almost made to regret that when Tabb found space for a cross, but Owusu headed wide from eight yards.
The visitors were limited to attacking on the break, Smith shot wide after his first shot was blocked and Nelson saved well from a Cummins header. The Bees introduced Rhodes as they looked for an equaliser and he almost latched onto a long ball from Nelson but couldn't quite make contact.
Brentford threw everything forward at the death, Gayle had a header saved and with the last chance of the afternoon Owusu lofted an effort over the crossbar. Port Vale held on and Brentford were left frustrated.
Brentford: Nelson; Mousinho (sub Owusu 60 mins), Turner, Sodje, Frampton (sub Rhodes 70 mins); Brooker, Newman, Pratley (sub Tillen h/t), Tabb; Gayle, Rankin
Subs (not used): Willock, Bankole
Written by Chris Wickham