Brentford’s unbeaten start to the Sky Bet Championship season ended with defeat at Turf Moor against Burnley. A Michael Keane header in the first half was the difference between the teams as a single goal settled it in Lancashire.
The Bees would have considered themselves unlucky to be behind at that point as they had started the game well. But they were unable to find a way back in the game after falling behind. They pushed hard for an equaliser in the later stages of a second half with few chances but couldn’t find it and had nothing to take back to London.
Burnley started the match with a very high line. Their midfield four pushed up close to their strikers and they looked to pen Brentford back. The Bees had lots of early possession but were forced to play along their back line to keep the ball.
The first 15 minutes were attritional. Brentford probed for a chance to get the ball forward while Burnley tried to force mistakes and looked to get from front to back quickly, taking their one man disadvantage in midfield out of the equation.
They had the first half chance when Lukas Jutkiewicz did force a mistake, robbing James Tarkowski, but Harlee Dean was in the right place to clear. Michael Kightly had another shot soon after but David Button was able to deal with the weak effort.
Although the hosts had the first chances, Brentford would have been happier with the start of the game. The home crowd were getting frustrated as Brentford retained the ball better and Toumani Diagouraga was able to link the play as The Bees moved from side to side to get up the pitch.
Alan Judge was able to find little pockets of space and the pace of Lasse Vibe both on the inside and outside from his position on the right caused the home defence problems. Andy Gogia almost broke through and it took a crude foul from Michael Duff to halt him. Judge’s curling free kick was well saved to his left by Tom Heaton.
Heaton then saved well from Vibe before the Danish attacker got on to a clever threaded ball from Konstantin Kerschbaumer, he only had the Burnley goalkeeper to beat but was unable to do so, firing the ball against the legs of his opponent. Vibe, now in the thick of the action, fired wide moments later.
But Brentford’s good start was undone just past the midway point of the first half. From a rare Burnley attack, they won a corner, David Jones delivered it to the far post where Keane rose almost unchallenged to head powerfully down and in. Button’s best efforts, flinging himself to his right, could not keep the ball out.
The home side took the initiative after the goal. They found extra energy to press high up as they had done in the early stages and Brentford found it difficult to move the ball as they were doing. Burnley had the territorial advantage and were creating chances, albeit mainly from set pieces.
Keane headed a Kightly corner wide and when another set piece was half cleared, a George Boyd shot was deflected away from goal. The home side should probably have doubled their lead when a Kightly cross was only cleared as far as Scott Arfield 18 yards out but he blasted over with a clear sight of goal.
Brentford started to play in Burnley’s half as the first period drew to a close and a low Alan McCormack shot was saved by Heaton as the break approached but the home side went in ahead.
The second half started in a similar way to the first. Burnley pressed high and had lots of energy while Brentford tried to find a way to pass through them. Dean made a couple of important interceptions in the opening moments of the half and Button had to go full stretch to his right to tip an Arfield shot around the post after a clearance had been returned quickly by the home side.
But there were few chances and as the game entered the final quarter, Burnley had a lead that looked comfortable. And they should have made the game safe with two great chances with 20 minutes remaining.
First, Kightly cleverly dummied a Tendayi Darikwa throw but Sam Vokes lashed it over from 12 yards. Seconds later, Darikwa cleared the ball long downfield and Jutkiewicz got in behind, the striker looked set to score but the ball bounced awkwardly and, under pressure from Dean, he lifted the effort over.
Matthew Taylor blasted a free kick wide and Button saved a low Marvin Sordell shot as Burnley sought to make the game safe while Kerschbaumer shot over at the other end.
Jermaine Udumaga was handed a Football League debut and Dean went in to attack as an emergency striker as the minutes ticked down. But Brentford’s endeavour was not rewarded and Burnley took the points.
Burnley: Heaton; Darikwa, Duff, Keane, Mee; Boyd, Jones, Arfield, Kightly (sub Taylor 73 mins); Hennings (sub Vokes 59 mins), Jutkiewicz (sub Sordell 83 mins)
Subs (not used): Gilks, Ward, Anderson, Vossen
Bookings: Duff (16 mins)
Brentford: Button; McCormack (sub Udumaga 83 mins), Dean, Tarkowski, Bidwell; Kerschbaumer, Diagouraga, Judge; Vibe, Hofmann, Gogia (sub Colin 58 mins)
Subs (not used): Bonham, Barbet, O'Connell, Clarke, Senior
Bookings: McCormack (45 mins), Diagouraga (53 mins)
Attendance: 14,928 (696 Bees fans)