Brentford bounced back to winning ways with a hard fought win at Milton Keynes Dons. A Lloyd Owusu goal early on was the difference between the teams as MK and Izale McLeod in particular missed a host of chances.
The Bees made three changes from the team which lost at Griffin Park to Doncaster four days ago with Sam Sodje, Darren Pratley and Calum Willock returning to the starting line-up. They replaced Sam Tillen and Marcus Gayle, who were both unavailable because of illness, and Eddie Hutchinson, who dropped to the bench.
Pratley could have marked his return with a goal inside the first two minutes when he raced into the box to meet a Jamie Smith cross but his header looped over. But that was a sign of things to come as the visitors bossed the first half. They pinned Milton Keynes back, helped by a strong wind, and were given the boost of an early goal. Jay Tabb latched on Dons defender Trent McClenahan's poor header, goalkeeper Ricardo Batista rushed out but the ball squirmed to Owusu who nodded home from six yards.
Willock could have doubled the advantage with a fine turn and shot from 25 yards but Batista saved and Paul Brooker fired wide after nice interplay between Owusu and Willock to set him up. The home side had offered little, two McLeod shots which flew horribly wide the best they could do.
But McLeod should have pulled them level just past the quarter hour when he met a low Nicky Rizzo cross two yards out but sliced it wide when it looked easier to score. That chance came against the run of play and Brentford continued to push forward, Owusu shot wide and Willock put a header off target as The Bees dominated.
The wind wasn't helping the flow of the game and both teams were restricted to long range efforts which failed to trouble either goalkeeper. Willock created a shooting opportunity for Tabb as half time approached and Batista did well to tip the fizzing drive over the top.
Milton Keynes should have equalised just before the break when Ben Chorley flicked on a Gary Smith corner but David Partridge's header hit the top of the crossbar rather than the back of the net. The Bees could then have got a second themselves when Michael Turner met a Brooker corner with a bullet of a header but Leon Crooks headed it off the line.
Playing with the wind after the interval MK were always likely to be a tougher proposition but the visitors should have extended their lead within five minutes of the re-start. Willock did well on the left and left Chorley in his wake as he got to the by-line; Owusu met his cross but fired over the top.
McLeod came within a whisker of making Brentford pay when he got clear on the far side from a McClenahan pass but blasted his shot against the post. Brentford were still looking dangerous when they attacked, Tabb had a volley deflected wide and Sodje a header saved but Nelson had to be alert at the other end to save an angled shot from substitute Malvin Kamara.
The Brentford goalkeeper produced an even better save with ten minutes remaining to preserve his team's lead. Rizzo whipped in another great free kick, McLeod met it at the far post and seemed set to score but Nelson saved brilliantly, and did so again as McLeod fired the re-bound in. The Dons were applying severe pressure, Nelson saved superbly again from Rizzo and when the same player floated a corner in, Chorley flicked on and Scott Taylor headed over from six yards.
The chances continued to come, McLeod failed to make contact from three yards out as he was unmarked from a Rizzo free-kick but his biggest miss came with six minutes remaining. Jamie Smith was penalised for a late tackle on the Dons striker and referee Fletcher awarded a penalty, McLeod blasted it over the bar. Taylor and Gary Smith fired over as time ticked on. The Dons continued to press and Nelson saved well from a Smith free-kick but they couldn't score and Brentford took the points.
Brentford: Nelson; Smith, Turner, Sodje, Frampton; Brooker, Newman, Pratley (sub Hutchinson 83 mins), Tabb; Willock (sub Rhodes 83 mins), Owusu
Subs (not used): Charles, Lewis, Bankole
Written by Chris Wickham