Brentford clinched a fifth straight npower League One win as they beat Colchester United on a wet and windy Boxing Day.
In a match that was played ten-a-side for the entire second half Brentford always had enough to complete a league double over the Essex side.
The first 15 minutes could scarcely have gone better for Brentford; they found themselves two goals and a man up and seemed well in control.
But Colchester responded, pulled one back and when Tom Adeyemi was dismissed, a win was not a foregone conclusion.
But Richard Lee was not unduly troubled in the second half and Harlee Dean scored late on to seal the 3-1 win.
The Bees took the lead with their first attack, Harry Forrester crossed from the left, Clayton Donaldson headed down and Marcello Trotta spun on a sixpence before firing high in to the roof of the net past a flat footed Mark Cousins.
Forrester and Donaldson were involved in the next key incident too, one that saw Colchester’s Josh Thompson sent off.
Forrester picked out a pass and Donaldson raced in behind, Thompson brought him down and with Brentford’s top scorer about to pull the trigger from 19 yards, referee Gavin Ward deemed the defender had denied a goal scoring opportunity and sent him off.
Adam Forshaw stepped up to curl the free kick in to the top corner to doubled Brentford’s lead.
Drey Wright had fired across the face of goal early on for the home side but they looked out of it.
However, the Essex outfit decided the best way to deal with the disadvantage was to attack and they started to frighten The Bees.
Tom Eastman should have scored when he was found at a free kick and the same man fired wide soon after.
Colchester pulled one back when Kem Izzet won a tackle he had no right to in midfield and fed Wright, the wide man cut inside and drilled a low shot past Richard Lee.
Brentford were able to exploit gaps when Colchester attacked and they should have made the game safe before half an hour had elapsed.
Cousins saved at the feet of Donaldson and just held on to a low Trotta shot at full stretch.
Magnus Okuonghae blocked a Donaldson shot after good work by Jake Bidwell and Forrester shot wide after breaking from a corner.
Dean blazed wide from distance before Forrester again broke but this time Cousins denied him.
Brentford had to scramble defensively when Okuonghae headed a corner down and Lee saved from John White and then Eastman as the home side pressed.
And they were given a boost just before half time when Adeyemi was sent off for his second bookable offence – both for fouls on the busy Izzet.
The Brentford midfielder could have few complaints and it set up the second half, albeit not in the way the visitors wanted.
A Gavin Massey shot was blocked early in the second period while Forrester shot over at the other end but there was little action immediately after the re-start.
Brentford were content to keep the ball and ask Colchester to get it off them and the home side did not seem too worried about doing so.
Clinton Morrison turned a cross wide and Eastman missed the target with a looping header but the second half seemed to drift as the rain came down and the pitch cut up more with every pass.
A Freddie Ladapo shot deflected wide and Izzet blasted over from a short corner as time ticked down.
Brentford went looking for the goal that would seal the game as it ticked in to the final ten minutes.
Bidwell had a shot deflected wide as did Lee Hodson while a Shaleum Logan effort was blocked.
The killer goal came with five minutes remaining – Bidwell put in a free kick, Donaldson challenged for it and as defenders stood and watched and Cousins slipped, Dean pounced to knock it home.
Colchester tried to respond – a Morrison shot was blocked and Marcus Bean, who was as industrious as Brentford fans have come to know, had a fine near post volley saved by Lee.
But the game was up for the home side and Brentford continued their fine form at the top of League One.
Colchester United: Cousins; White, Eastman, Thompson, Potts; Izzet (sub O’Toole 82 mins); Massey (sub Ladapo 68 mins), Bean, Gilbey (sub Okuonghae 13 mins), Wright; Morrison
Subs (not used): Pentney, Duguid, O’Toole, Bond, Wilson
Bookings: Potts (79 mins)
Sent Off: Thompson (10 mins)
Brentford: Lee; Hodson, Dean, Craig, Bidwell; Douglas, Adeyemi; Donaldson, Forshaw (sub Diagouraga 72 mins), Forrester (sub Kiernan 85 mins); Trotta (sub Logan 59 mins)
Subs (not used): Gounet, Kiernan, Reeves, Saunders, Hayes
Bookings: Douglas (18 mins) (sixth of season), Lee (78 mins) (second of season)
Sent Off: Adeyemi (44 mins) (second bookable offence)
Attendance: 4,200 (711 Bees fans)
By Chris Wickham