The Dean Smith era at Brentford got underway in the best possible fashion as Milton Keynes Dons were beaten at Griffin Park. A first half goal from Lasse Vibe and a second after the break from Alan Judge gave The Bees the win and ensured the new Head Coach started his reign with three points on a horrifically windy afternoon in West London.
And it was a fine win. Brentford dominated proceedings for long spells and created countless chances. They hit the woodwork three times, had a goal disallowed and saw other openings come and go. While MK did have the odd chance, they were very much second best and may consider themselves fortunate to only lose 2-0.
The conditions played a part in a quiet opening 15 minutes. Brentford had been forced in to a late change with Alan McCormack injured in the warm-up and with MK playing in to the very strong wind, there was no early pattern to the game. The Bees looked to start positively and had a lot of the ball in MK territory in the early stages but there were few chances and the host failed to really get the ball moving as they would have liked in attacking areas.
James Tarkowski fired an early long range shot wide for Brentford and, after a sublime piece of skill from Toumani Diagouraga, MK goalkeeper David Martin got down well to prevent a Sergi Canós cross reaching Vibe. But the visitors also had early sights of goal – Josh Murphy fired over at the near post after a corner was half cleared and David Button saved from Dean Bowditch after he got away from Tarkowski.
Murphy also fired over after a free kick had been played short but as the midway point of the first half approached, Brentford went through the gears. They got themselves ahead and laid siege to the MK goal. Their only problem at half time would have been that the game was not out of the visitors’ reach.
The goal was an example in clinical counter attacking football. Tarkowski played a clearance to Judge and he danced away from Anthony Kay before spreading the play to the marauding Jake Bidwell – the captain delivered a cross for Vibe to head home from close range to put Brentford in front. And in the next 15 minutes they could have added to that lead at least four times.
Ryan Woods fired over the bar from 25 yards after weaving through three challenges and, when Vibe’s attempt at a pass was blocked, a Konstantin Kerschbaumer header put Judge in with only Martin to beat but the goalkeeper made himself big and the shot was pushed away. Martin held on to a flicked header from Vibe shortly afterwards before Judge curled a free kick against the crossbar from 25 yards and, when the ball was recycled, Canós and Diagouraga combined to set up Kerschbaumer for a shot that was cleared off the line by Kay.
Canós had a great chance to make it two when Vibe got away from Kyle McFadzean but he smashed his shot against the crossbar. Vibe then went close when Button caught a MK corner and quickly released it downfield, the striker got away from Murphy but fired over at the near post. Vibe did have the ball in the net when a free kick was half cleared, Judge’s shot was blocked and the Danish striker slotted home but he was adjudged to be offside.
The Dons also had a goal ruled out for offside – Nicky Maynard slotting home a Murphy pass – and came back in to the game as half time approached. Maynard had a shot from a short corner blocked and the follow-up deflected wide. Bowditch also hit the near post with a cross but the visitors would have gone in at half time thankful to still be in the game. Brentford’s passing had been a class above MK and when they did not have the ball they hunted to win it back in remorseless fashion.
And the second half continued in the same way. MK had an early chance from a corner – Button easily saving a McFadzean effort – but they were still spending most of their time defending. Brentford seemed better equipped to deal with the wind, taking it out of the equation most of the time with quick passing football. And they came close to doubling their lead when, after some nice interplay in MK territory, Vibe smashed a shot against the crossbar from 20 yards.
Brentford continued to dominate but without being able to get that second goal to give them breathing space. Judge missed a great chance when a Bidwell corner bounced all the way across and he smashed over from eight yards and a deflected effort from the Irishman was saved by Martin soon after. Vibe had a shot blocked after a lovely move involving at least eight players and more than a dozen passes and Kerschbaumer fired the loose ball over on the turn. And moments later a Judge cross, when Diagouraga had dinked a pass over the MK defence was cleared by Carl Baker with Woods waiting to tap in.
The second goal eventually came from a corner inside the last 20 minutes after a Bidwell shot had been blocked. It was played short and Sam Saunders’ delivery was cleared as far as Judge 25 yards out, he returned it on the volley first time and watched as it bounced past a posse of defenders and in to the net. That took any real concern about the result out of the equation and Brentford were able to introduce Jota, back after an ankle injury, for the last ten minutes.
He almost set up a goal but Bidwell fired over the bar while, at the other end, Button saved from Samir Carruthers as MK mustered their first real effort of the second half inside the last 15 minutes. Darren Potter also fired over from distance in the dying stages but the game was up and Brentford had the win.
Brentford: Button; Yennaris, Tarkowski, O’Connell, Bidwell; Woods (sub Jota 80 mins), Diagouraga; Canós (sub Saunders 67 mins), Judge, Kerschbaumer; Vibe (sub Hofmann 87 mins)
Subs (not used): Bonham, Barbet, McEachran, Gogia
Bookings: O’Connell (18 mins)
Milton Keynes Dons: Martin; Spence, McFadzean, Kay, Lewington; Potter, Poyet (sub Carruthers 73 mins); Baker, Bowditch (sub Gallagher 66 mins), Murphy (sub Powell 52 mins); Maynard
Subs (not used): Cropper, Hodson, Benavente, Hall
Bookings: Murphy (40 mins)
Attendance: 9,682 (590 away fans)