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Match Report


Posted Sat 23 Jan 10 at 18:34 PM


Brentford slipped to their first League One defeat in six matches in an entertaining and fiercely competitive match against promotion-chasing Norwich City.

The home side, who played for more than 50 minutes with ten men, snatched the points with a Chris Martin goal inside the last quarter of an hour.

But the score line didn't tell the story of the match, Brentford were more than a match for their big-spending hosts - even when it was 11-a-side - and had chances to come away with at least a point.

Norwich came into the game on a fantastic run of form and, after a slow start to the match, looked every inch the promotion candidates they are.

The Bees were competitive, with Sam Wood performing an important man to man marking job on Wes Hoolahan, but the hosts had the better of the chances.

Brentford's most important man in the early stages was again goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who kept the home side at bay.

The stopper made a superb point blank save from a Chris Martin header and perhaps an even better one from an Adam Drury header later in the half.

Simon Lappin shot over for Norwich early on and Brentford new man Toumani Diagouraga cleared a Michael Nelson header off the line before Grant Holt had an effort saved.

Chris Martin had an effort deflected over and Gary Doherty headed on to the top of the net as Norwich dominated.

But The Bees began to get a grip on things after a difficult first 20 minutes.

Marcus Bean was outstanding in the centre of midfield, and attracted a lot of unwarranted stick from the home fans in the process.

And chances started to come for the visitors - Leon Legge headed over and was then unable to turn in a curling Kevin O'Connor free kick at the far post.

Russell Martin shot wide for the hosts, after appeals for a penalty when Bean and Chris Martin collided were turned down, before Darel Russell shot over.

Myles Weston almost created a goal for himself after twisting and turning Doherty on the edge of the box but shot straight at Fraser Forster.

And as half time approached Tommy Smith headed narrowly over from eight yards when he met another well-delivered O'Connor free kick.

The game swung Brentford's way when Holt was dismissed just before the break for a scandalous two-footed tackle on Diagouraga that caught the Bees man on the knees when he was on the ground.

Although referee Steve Rushton had angered both sets of players in the first half there was little doubt he made the right decision.

The home crowd whipped themselves up into a frenzy and their players responded, despite being a man down they still created some good openings early in the second period.

Szczesny made a wondrous save from Drury when the full back headed from four yards out after Chris Martin nodded back across.

And the Polish stopper denied Chris Martin again soon after.

Brentford had chances - Doherty was forced to head a Danny Foster cross out from under his own crossbar and Forster produced a save equal of Szczesny's earlier efforts when he dived full stretch to his left to keep out a Ryan Dickson header.

But Norwich still held the upper hand, Russell had a shot deflected wide, Doherty headed over, Lappin sliced an effort wide from the edge of the box and Szczesny saved from Hoolahan.

The game ticked past the hour mark and Brentford appeared to have weathered the storm, and they sensed the game was there for the winning.

Wood came within an inch of opening the scoring when he fired in a shot from 25 yards that hit the inside of the post and bounced out, substitute Carl Cort fired the re-bound high to Forster's right but the goalkeeper kept it out.

Bean shot wide and had a header saved before Zak Whitbread saw an effort land on top of the net at the other end.

Lappin fired just over before Doherty produced an important block from Wood as the game swung from end to end, enthralling a crowd just short of 25,000.

The crucial moment came with 13 minutes remaining, substitute Oli Johnson skipped past a couple of challenges on the edge of the box and slipped it through to Chris Martin who took a touch and rolled it under the advancing Szczesny from a narrow angle.

Lappin into the side netting soon after but Brentford dominated the later stages and will wonder how they did not level it up.

Forster produced another brilliant save to keep out a fierce O'Connor shot and Weston shot the re-bound inches past the far post.

In the dying seconds Cort met a Weston cross but Forster saved again and it was enough to give the home side the points.

Norwich City: Forster; R. Martin (sub Whitbread h/t), Doherty, Nelson, Drury; Russell, Smith, Lappin; Hoolahan (sub Johnson 69 mins); C. Martin, Holt

Subs (not used): Rudd, Gill, Hughes, McNamee, McDonald

Bookings: Russell (38 mins), Drury (63 mins), Johnson (85 mins)

Sent Off: Holt (40 mins)

Brentford: Szczesny; Foster, Legge, Smith, Dickson; Wood; Diagouraga (sub Cort 59 mins), Bean, O'Connor; Weston, MacDonald

Subs (not used): Price, Phillips, Bennett, Hunt, Bostock, Strevens

Bookings: Bean (61 mins) (eighth of season), O'Connor (90 mins) (third of season)

Attendance: 24, 979

By Chris Wickham

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