Derby County scored three goals in the final ten minutes to beat Brentford at Griffin Park. A sublime strike from Alan Judge put Brentford ahead midway through the second half and The Bees looked as if they would keep Derby out as they held that lead in to the later stages. But Jeff Hendrick profited from a lucky ricochet, and a non-awarded handball, to equalise before Cyrus Christie put the visitors in front after more pinball in the penalty area. A late third from Chris Martin put a slight unjust gloss on the score line for the visitors.
Derby started brightly and could have been a couple up within the first ten minutes. They should have scored three minutes in when Hendrick got the better of Josh McEachran in midfield and then made the most of a lucky ricochet to bear down on David Button but the Brentford goalkeeper made the save and then got up quickly to deny the same man from the rebound. Button was at his best again moments later to keep out a low Darren Bent shot after Johnny Russell had got to the by-line before Bradley Johnson curled over.
Derby started the game with Jamie Hanson providing a defensive shield to their back four. This enabled Christie and Marcus Olsson to get forward from full back and also gave the other midfield players licence to attack. McEachran and Nico Yennaris provided a base for The Bees and when they started to get to grips with Derby’s formation after a tough opening 15 minutes Brentford got a foothold in the game.
Ryan Woods and Konstantin Kerschbaumer occupied advanced midfield roles for The Bees, which gave Judge a little more freedom and the Irishman started to drift in to pockets of space. He went deeper when he had to and popped up all over the pitch, prompting Brentford’s attacking play. Judge almost set up a goal for Yennaris with a curling free kick but the header was straight at Derby goalkeeper Scott Carson. Another free kick soon after allowed Jack O’Connell to get ahead of Johnson but his header was just past the post. And when McEachran delivered a low corner, Kerschbaumer dummied and Judge’s curling shot was well saved by Carson.
Derby pressed high up the pitch for most of the first half. Their midfield was able to get close to Bent and press Brentford back. The Bees struggled to play through for long stages of the opening 45 and were often forced back to Button or to play the ball dangerously around their defence. Brentford’s defensive shape was, however, holding relatively firm and Button was in fine form. The Brentford goalkeeper prevented Jake Bidwell scoring an own goal when a Johnson cross cannoned in to him at the far post and when Russell weaved through after robbing Judge, he made a superb stop low to his left.
Richard Keogh looped a header over for the visitors before a Jacob Butterfield shot was blocked. And as half time approached an Olsson cross reached Bent but his shot was blocked. Yennaris fired wide late on for The Bees but they had been defending more than attacking in the opening half. That changed, however, after the interval. Brentford looked to get the ball forward a little quicker, press Derby in to defensive areas and their work rate went up a notch.
Brentford were starting to win balls in midfield and force mistakes from Derby. When Yennaris intercepted a loose pass he set Lasse Vibe away and his shot, after cutting back inside, deflected just wide. Next time Brentford won the ball in Derby territory they took the lead. And it was a goal of rare quality. Judge nipped in to take the ball off Hansen and headed towards goal, he weaved away from Jason Shackell before striking a shot past Carson and in to the net from a tight angle. It was a goal he had no right to score and one to grace any game at any level.
Derby came back at The Bees and brought top scorer Martin in to the game from the bench with Nick Blackman and Tom Ince following soon after. They pressed forward and started to dominate territory without really threatening Button. And Brentford could, perhaps, have gone further ahead. Kerschbaumer had a shot blocked before Judge fired over and Bidwell got a toe to a fantastic, whipped McEachran free kick only for the effort to be blocked.
As the minutes ticked down and Derby chased an equaliser, the game became stretched. Button gathered a bouncing shot from Butterfield at the second attempt before Brentford went on the counter and Kerschbaumer shot narrowly over from the edge of the penalty area. When the visitors got their goal, it had more than a hint of fortune about it. The ball was played in to box and Harlee Dean’s clearance was charged down by Blackman – the ball cannoning off his arms with them well above his head, it fell to Hendrick and he slotted it calmly past Button to level it up.
Judge shot wide for Brentford but the momentum had shifted and Derby had the initiative. It wasn’t long until they also had the lead. Christie burst in to the box and when Johnson’s shot from a tight angle was blocked, it fell to the full back and he slotted home.
But Brentford came roaring back, not allowing the double strike to unsettle them. Kerschbaumer and Yennaris set up Djuricin, who volleyed over, and Shackell headed a Judge cross inches past his own post. Djuricin should have equalised when he met a Maxime Colin cross eight yards out but he nodded over. Brentford still pushed in to the dying seconds and Bidwell’s header from a Judge corner looked set for the corner before Carson made a miraculous save. Derby cleared and substitute Ince led a three-on-one break, setting up Martin, who slotted home to finish Brentford off.
Brentford: Button; Colin, Dean, O’Connell, Bidwell; McEachran (sub Swift 71 mins), Yennaris; Woods, Judge, Kerschbaumer (sub Canós 86 mins); Vibe (sub Djuricin 74 mins)
Subs (not used): Bonham, Clarke, Saunders, Hofmann
Bookings: McEachran (30 mins)
Derby County: Carson; Christie, Keogh, Shackell, Olsson; Hanson (sub Blackman 69 mins); Russell (sub Ince 77 mins), Hendrick, Butterfield, Johnson; Bent (sub Martin 60 mins)
Subs (not used): Grant, Bryson, Buxton, Camara
Attendance: 10,627 (1,664 away fans)