A goal inside the final ten minutes from Blackburn Rovers central defender Shane Duffy condemned Brentford to another home defeat. The Bees had dominated most of the match and looked worth at least a share of the spoils but Duffy, up for a late free kick, smashed in from 12 yards to score the only goal of the game and give his team the win. That it was a smash and grab raid could not be argued. Blackburn played the final third of the match with ten men after the dismissal of captain Grant Hanley but they largely kept Brentford at arms’ length and took their half chance when it came.
Blackburn started the game with five men in the midfield. Darragh Lenihan sat just behind a four-man line and the visitors set up to contain Brentford. They looked to stop The Bees playing out from the back, pushing high up when David Button had the ball, and were happy to counter-attack or look to win set pieces and get men forward to use their physical advantage. Brentford were unable to establish an early rhythm, with miss-placed passes and lots of long balls forward. It meant the opening quarter was not much of a spectacle.
The chances, such that they were, in the opening exchanges fell to the visitors. Ben Marshall shot wide from distance after a burst forward and a Jordi Gómez free kick from 20 yards was straight at the well-positioned Button. A deep free kick from Elliott Bennett found Duffy at the far post but his looping header did not trouble Button.
When Brentford were able to move the ball through the midfield, particularly utilising Josh McEachran and Alan Judge, they looked liable to create something. Blackburn’s pressing made it hard for The Bees to get ball in good areas of the pitch but it happened more as the half wore on. Judge found space on the right to deliver a cross for Sam Saunders, the shot was blocked and Alan McCormack’s follow-up from 25 yards flew wide. Judge then chipped a pass over the top to allow Nico Yennaris to get in to the box, the ball bobbled around and a deflected effort from Saunders hit the side netting.
Brentford came closest to scoring in the first half through a Yoann Barbet free kick from 22 yards that Jason Steele saved to his left and, from the resulting corner, a McCormack shot was blocked. Steele also saved a long range effort from Judge soon after but the best chance of the opening period came when Hope Akpan met a Craig Conway free kick ten yards out but Button tipped his header over the bar.
Brentford started the second half in positive fashion, they looked to get on the front foot and play in Blackburn territory, they were moving the ball quicker and dominated possession. Blackburn had the first chance of the half – Gómez firing over following a half cleared corner – but Brentford had the initiative. And soon they had a man advantage. Ryan Woods won the ball in Blackburn’s defensive areas and Judge delivered a cross looking for Leandro Rodríguez, Hanley stuck an arm up to block it and referee Michael Bull issued a second yellow card, sending the Blackburn skipper off.
The dismissal gave The Bees a further lift. There was a little extra space and Sergi Canós was soon introduced in an attempt to stretch the game. Judge had a shot blocked and McCormack fired well over as Brentford started to put more men forward and balls in to the penalty area. But the final pass was not quite coming off and Steele was not tested as much as Brentford would like. He may have been tested if Mr Bull had given a penalty for handball when a cross appeared to strike a Blackburn arm but the appeals were waved away.
Judge fired over from 20 yards from a clever McEachran free kick and McCormack had a shot blocked when a cross was half cleared soon after. Another golden chance came and went when, following a quick throw, Judge elected to shoot rather than play in Canós with only Steele to beat. The shot was deflected and saved by the Blackburn goalkeeper. Saunders had a shot blocked and Jake Bidwell volleyed over while Canós headed down a blind alley when leading a three-on-two break and the chance had gone.
Griffin Park stood to a man with 15 minutes remaining when Scott Hogan entered the fray, ending more than 18 months out of First Team action after suffering two cruciate knee ligament injuries but he also found the Blackburn defence resolute. And the visitors were still pushing men forward for set pieces. Elliott Ward headed weakly at Button from one but with four minutes to go another ball went in to the box that wasn’t cleared, Tony Watt fed Duffy and he smashed a shot in to the top corner.
That left Brentford around ten minutes, including stoppage time, to save the game. Judge had a shot blocked and Bidwell headed wide when unmarked eight yards out. Canós had a shot blocked when a cross was nodded down and Steele went away to his left to turn a Judge shot around the post. Harlee Dean had the final sight of goal, smashing well over from a McEachran corner and with the ball still travelling Mr Bull brought proceedings to a close to Blackburn had the win.
Brentford: Button; Yennaris, Dean, Barbet, Bidwell; McCormack, McEachran; Woods (sub Canós 69 mins), Judge, Saunders (sub Vibe 84 mins); Rodríguez (sub Hogan 76 mins)
Subs (not used): Bonham, O’Connell, Colin, Kerschbaumer
Bookings: McEachran (78 mins) (third of season)
Blackburn Rovers: Steele; Marshall, Duffy, Hanley, Spurr; Lenihan; Bennett, Akpan, Gómez (sub Ward 59 mins), Conway (sub Grimes 86 mins); Graham (sub Watt 84 mins)
Subs (not used): Raya, Kilgallon, Brown, Jackson
Bookings: Graham (63 mins), Akpan (74 mins), Duffy (87 mins), Lenihan (90 mins), Watt (90 mins)
Sent Off: Hanley (57 mins) (second bookable offence)
Attendance: 10,575 (782 away fans)