Alan Judge scored one and made two more as Brentford beat Charlton Athletic at The Valley. The 3-0 London derby win was Brentford’s third in a week and they added back-to-back clean sheets to their weekly total as well. The Bees had to weather an early storm from the hosts but once Judge had crossed for John Swift to head home they never looked back.
Alan McCormack hit the crossbar from distance late in the first half before Judge scored his goal early in the second. The Irishman then set up substitute Lasse Vibe to make it three inside the final five minutes. The win was no more than Brentford deserved and their nine point week has seen them climb in to the top half of the Sky Bet Championship ahead of the West London derby against Queens Park Rangers next week.
The home side started the game brightly. Their 4-4-2 system gave them a solid platform and they pressed Brentford high up the pitch. Their wide midfield players had narrow starting positions, which enabled them to support the front pair and prevented The Bees moving the ball through the middle.
The hosts should have been ahead inside the opening ten minutes as they had three great chances. The first fell to Franck Moussa, who shot wide from ten yards with the goal gaping after great work on the right by Tony Watt. Watt then set up Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson but his low shot was saved by David Button. The third chance fell to Watt himself, Guðmundsson headed a poor Button clearance back and the Scottish striker raced clear but pulled his shot across the face of goal and wide.
Brentford could not get a foothold in the game in the first 15 minutes. The work rate of the home side prevented The Bees passing the ball as they would like and they were forced to play long passes or dangerous short ones. They could, however, have scored early on when Marco Djuricin bundled his way in to the penalty area and got a shot away but it was well blocked.
Once Brentford had weathered the early storm, the game changed. Charlton seemed to lose heart after being unable to get the opening goal and their work rate dropped. There was space for Brentford to pass the ball and with the hosts maintaining a narrow starting position, as soon as Brentford got the ball wide there was space to exploit. The Bees also started to create chances. A Djuricin volley from a deep Judge corner was blocked and James Tarkowski nodded the loose ball over.
McCormack fired just over from 22 yards soon after following good work on the right, epitomised by a clever Ryan Woods cut back. Judge went closed again soon after with a left foot shot well pushed out by Stephen Henderson and Brentford could have profited but Djuricin and McCormack got in each other’s way when trying to put the loose ball in. Jake Bidwell then fired wide after a run from deep and an exchange of passes with Woods.
Charlton were now forced to counter attack and Simon Makienok shot wide when he got on to a Moussa cross. Moussa also tested Button with a 25 yards shot but Brentford were on top and they took the lead soon after. Following a spell of midfield possession that left Charlton chasing shadows, the ball was worked to Judge on the right, he delivered an inch perfect cross for Swift to arrive late and head powerfully home.
The Bees now had the lead and the initiative and were dominating possession. Charlton fought hard, trying to win the ball back and create chances and they could have scored when Chris Solly and Guðmundsson set up Johnnie Jackson but McCormack blocked the shot. Most of the action, however, was at the other end.
Brentford were pressing and probing and looking for a second goal to give them breathing space. Djuricin could have delivered it when he fired when from a deep Judge corner and McCormack came within a whisker of adding the second when he smashed a shot from 25 yards that beat Henderson all ends up but cannoned off the underside of the crossbar, down and, fortunately for Charlton, away from goal.
With a half time lead under their belts, Brentford may have expected Charlton to come out all guns blazing at the start of the second half. But the game continued in the same pattern after the break. Brentford were dominating possession, pressing, probing and looking for goals. They almost got one when, after a nice period of play on the left, Djuricin volleyed over from 15 yards. But they did not have to wait much longer.
The second goal came from a Charlton corner, Tarkowski won the ball back and set The Bees away. Judge raced forward and fed McCormack, when he then received the ball back he cut inside and curled an unstoppable shot in to the top corner from 15 yards. The goal summed up the way Brentford had counter attacked since they took the lead, playing incisive, fast football and looking to get shots off.
Charlton tried to respond and brought Conor McAleny and Reza Ghoochannejhad in to the game. The pair combined soon after but Button saved a low shot from McAleny. The same man then cut inside and forced Button in to another low save but time was running for the hosts.
As the match entered the final 15 minutes Brentford were showing fewer effects of three high-intensity games in a week than their hosts. They were still full of running but were also benefitting from a better ability to keep the ball. Charlton were tiring as they chased the game and substitute Karlan Ahearne-Grant could only smash a shot 20 yards over when he got a sight of goal. Brentford could have made it three when Woods escaped down the right and delivered a fantastic low cross but Vibe didn’t anticipate it and it flew across the face of goal.
The third was not, however, long in coming. Once again it was on the break, Judge flew over halfway and played a delightful pass to Vibe, the Danish international controlled it and cut inside before lashing home from 15 yards. Guðmundsson shot over for the hosts but it was Brentford that were looking the most likely to add to their tally. Harlee Dean headed a free kick just wide and Judge saw a shot blocked.
The home side pressed for a goal late on, Guðmundsson had a shot blocked and McAleny fired straight at Button after good work from Ahearne-Grant. But Brentford’s clean sheet was never really in doubt. With Tarkowski and Dean once again imperious, Brentford repelled all Charlton had to the throw at them and ensured they made it a third win in seven days.
Charlton Athletic: Henderson; Solly, Bauer, Sarr, Fox; Guðmundsson, Cousins, Jackson, Moussa (sub McAleny 61 mins); Watt (sub Ahearne-Grant 76 mins), Makienok (sub Ghoochannejhad 56 mins)
Subs (not used): Pope, Holmes-Dennis, Bergdich, Ba
Bookings: McAleny (77 mins)
Brentford: Button; Yennaris, Dean, Tarkowski, Bidwell; McCormack (sub Canós 89 mins), Diagouraga; Woods, Judge, Swift (sub Kerschbaumer 62 mins); Djuricin (sub Vibe 73 mins)
Subs (not used): Bonham, O’Connell, Gogia, Hofmann
Attendance: 14,585 (1,638 Bees fans)