Three second half goals gave Brentford a vital away win against Nottingham Forest. Brentford went in to the game on the back of four straight defeats but a goal from Lasse Vibe just after half time set them on their way to a big and well-deserved victory. Nico Yennaris scored his first goal for The Bees to give the visitors breathing space and Sergi Canós made it safe with a third inside the final five minutes.
There was no doubt Brentford deserved the points, their first win away from home since mid-January. They had the better of the first half and once they got ahead they played some very nice football. The sending off of Forest defender Eric Lichaj late in the second period reduced the chances of a comeback but Brentford did not look in the mood to let their lead slip anyway. There were scares and Forest should have scored at least once given their possession in attacking areas but Brentford had chances to have put an even bigger gloss on the score line.
The opening stages were interrupted by an injury to Forest defender Michael Mancienne. The centre half was down for two or three minutes of the first ten and whilst he was able to carry on despite the arrival of a stretcher, he was withdrawn just past the midway point of the first half. That injury prevented the game getting in to an early flow but when it did Brentford started to take control. The Bees dominated possession and looked more comfortable on the ball, without really creating too many chances.
In fact, there were no chances of note for either team in the opening quarter of the match. Brentford had a lot of the ball but mostly in unthreatening areas and Forest’s attempts to turn Brentford’s back line and get them facing their own goal were thwarted by good organisation from the visitors. With Yennaris and Alan McCormack playing in front of the Brentford defence there was a solid platform for The Bees to play and an outlet for the central defenders. And when Brentford got the ball moving through midfield they looked threatening. The best early chance was created after interplay between Yennaris and Alan Judge, Ryan Woods got in to the box but with Leandro Rodríguez and Sam Saunders waiting for a cut back his ball was poor and Matt Mills cleared.
Harlee Dean headed a Judge free kick over the bar and, after more nice play involving six or seven players, Woods and Yennaris set up Maxime Colin for a shot that Dorus de Vries turned away. Judge then tested de Vries with a dipping, swerving shot that the goalkeeper gathered uncomfortably. Brentford’s best chance of the half fell to Saunders after a clever Rodríguez lay off had put him through but the attacking midfield man blasted high and wide from 15 yards. That was the last meaningful contribution from Rodríguez who limped off just before half time to be replaced by Vibe.
Forest probably ended the half better having offered little for most of the opening 45. Their best chance came when McCormack and Yennaris combined to lose the ball as Brentford attacked and Chris Cohen led a break, Federico Macheda was forced wide by Dean as he went to shoot and blasted in to the side netting. Gary Gardner shot wide after a burst through midfield and there was another chance for Cohen after a poor Ryan Mendes de Graça fell to him 15 yards out but his effort was weak and David Button saved.
In the dying stages of the half Macheda had a shot blocked by McCormack and Judge led the break. With Rodríguez injured and unable to join in, Judge weaved past two men but couldn’t beat Mills and the chance had gone. But Brentford would have gone in at half time slightly the happier, the boos of the home fans gave an indication of their thoughts of the Forest performance.
And those boos were louder four minutes in to the second half when Brentford took the lead. The goal came out of nothing when Judge lifted a ball over the top for Vibe to chase, Forest defender Kelvin Wilson dithered as de Vries was slow to advance and the Danish striker got a toe to the ball to send it past the goalkeeper and in to the net.
Confidence surged through The Bees after the goal, they increased the tempo and started to move the ball with pace in to dangerous areas. Vibe almost got a second when Yennaris fed him and he turned quickly but the shot was blocked. Button saved a Gardner free kick at the other end but the game was losing its flow. Referee Peter Bankes was on the whistle almost constantly and by the end of the afternoon he had produced eight yellow cards – two of them for Lichaj – in a game that was by no means dirty.
Brentford appeared to have control but Forest should have been level just past the hour. Judge fired a free kick in to a defensive wall and Yoann Barbet could not stop the break. Forest had six players surging forward with only Colin in a defensive position, the French defender then slipped to give Macheda a sight of goal but Judge appeared from nowhere, having raced 70 yards, to intercept and clear the danger.
And that proved to be an even more vital intervention when Brentford scored moments later. Jake Bidwell delivered a corner, Barbet challenged and when the ball dropped, Yennaris was first to it, poking it in from close range. The two-goal lead was well merited by The Bees for their performance, particularly in the second half, but Forest had shown they could create openings and a Henri Lansbury corner created a chance for Cohen but Button held the header.
Button then saved from Oliver Burke but Brentford were starting to use their pace to counter-attack with menace. Vibe almost got on to a Judge pass but de Vries saved at his feet and the goalkeeper then did the same when Yennaris tried to get on to a Woods pass. Judge had a shot blocked and Lichaj fired wide but his main action was at the other end. The Forest right back was booked by Mr Bankes for a hack at Judge and moments later hauled back Vibe when the Danish striker looked to be getting in to a shooting position giving the official no option but to show him a second yellow card and sending him off.
Brentford were starting to show the signs of the work they had put in. Colin had to leave the game early while Barbet and Button also took knocks but soldiered on. It meant the end of the game was a little stop-start and Mr Bankes added seven minutes of stoppage time. But by then, Brentford had made it safe. They almost got a third when Wilson made a fine tackle to stop Vibe going through but Canós, who would have had that assist, was not stopped soon after. Vibe was the provider, playing a ball in to the path of the Spanish attacker and he stepped forward before slotting past de Vries and celebrating in front of the travelling Brentford fans.
Bidwell almost got in on the act but saw a shot saved in stoppage time while at the other end Button saved from Burke. Forest probably ended the game on top, without really looking like they could salvage anything but pride. Cohen fired over and Burke almost created a goal with a run and cut back that cannoned off substitute Josh Clarke and was heading in before Button stuck out an arm. That meant that The Bees had a clean sheet to go with their three goals and three points on a sunny Nottingham afternoon.
Nottingham Forest: de Vries; Lichaj, Mancienne (sub Wilson 24 mins), Mills, Jokic; Gardner, Vaughan; Mendes de Graça (sub Lansbury 55 mins), Cohen, Osborn; Macheda (sub Burke 64 mins)
Subs (not used): Evtimov, Fox, Blackstock, Tesche
Bookings: Mills (61 mins), Lansbury (66 mins)
Sent Off: Lichaj (77 mins) (second bookable offence)
Brentford: Button; Colin (sub Clarke 86 mins), Dean, Barbet, Bidwell; McCormack, Yennaris; Woods, Judge, Saunders (sub Canós 70 mins); Rodríguez (sub Vibe 44 mins)
Subs (not used): Bonham, O’Connell, Kerschbaumer, Gogia
Bookings: McCormack (20 mins) (ninth of season), Judge (58 mins) (fourth of season), Barbet (60 mins) (second of season), Dean (86 mins) (sixth of season)
Attendance: 19,444 (783 Bees fans)