Super-sub Scott Hogan scored twice as Brentford picked up their fourth win in an unbeaten run that has now stretched to five games. The striker came off the bench to hit two goals in three minutes as Brentford beat Cardiff City to make it 13 points from their five matches this month. Hogan only came on with 15 minutes to go but scored from a corner eight minutes later and then smashed home a few moments after for what proved to be the winner. Cardiff pulled a goal back within two minutes of Hogan’s second to set up a frantic finish but could not find a leveller.
There was nothing in the early exchanges to suggest the entertaining finish that would follow. The first 45 minutes was lacklustre, albeit it improved in the later stages, and neither goalkeeper was unduly worried. But the second half was better with both teams pushing more men forward looking for the win and once Hogan put Brentford in front it was all-action. In the end Brentford did enough to get the win and dent Cardiff’s Play-Off hopes.
Cardiff, who sit seventh in the table, started the game with two banks of four and, unusually in the Sky Bet Championship, two strikers. Their midfield pressed high up the pitch when they did not have the ball and it was difficult for Brentford to play out from the back. Often when David Button was in possession in the first quarter of the match there were more than ten players within 15 yards of his penalty area. That forced Brentford to play longer and they could not get in to an early rhythm. Josh Clarke made a burst forward from right back but was unable to find Sam Saunders with a cut back and there wasn’t much else for Brentford fans to get excited by early on.
Cardiff would have been happier with their opening. They were forcing mistakes from Brentford and dominating possession and territory. They were not, however, creating many clear cut chances. David Button saved a low Craig Noone effort and Anthony Pilkington missed the target twice from long range before Joe Ralls did likewise. Pilkington had the best chance of the first half hour, heading wide from eight yards when he was unmarked from Peter Whittingham corner.
The work rate and organisation from the visitors in the opening 30 minutes was very impressive. They regularly hunted the ball in numbers and made it very awkward for Brentford. As the first half wore on, however, gaps started to appear and Brentford were able to pick their passes and play through midfield. Ryan Woods shot over from 18 yards after he was picked out by Konstantin Kerschbaumer and a Clarke cross just eluded Lasse Vibe moments later.
Pilkington forced Button in to a low save and Whittingham fired wide as the match began to open up with half time approaching. And at the other end Nico Yennaris fired wide after exchanging passes with Vibe and Kerschbaumer missed the target from distance. Noone also shot wide for the visitors before a half that got better as it went on but would not have thrilled anyone was brought to a close.
A low shot from Alan McCormack very early in the second period that was saved by David Marshall at the second attempt gave an indication that it would be better after the break. And so it proved to be. The game opened up as Brentford passed the ball with more conviction and Cardiff were unable to press as they did in the first period. The Bees were playing most of the football and were playing more of it in Cardiff territory with Yennaris and McCormack higher up the pitch than they had been in the first half.
Kerschbaumer shot over from the edge of the box after being picked out by Clarke while Sean Morrison headed a Whittingham corner wide. Vibe had a gilt-edged chance to put Brentford ahead just before the hour mark that he failed to take. It came from a Cardiff corner that Brentford scrambled clear, Yennaris found Vibe and the Danish striker got away from Lee Peltier to lead a three-on-one break but then shot straight at Marshall after exchanging passes with Woods and finding himself with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Harlee Dean then headed wide from ten yards before a cross from Jake Bidwell, who also delivered for the earlier chance, after good work from substitute Sergi Canós, just eluded Vibe. Bidwell then fired in to the side netting as his link-up play with Canós showed promise and a Woods shot was deflected and saved. Scott Malone saw a shot blocked for the visitors before Button beat out a Pilkington shot when Yennaris was robbed in midfield.
Hogan’s introduction immediately gave Brentford a further boost. With Vibe remaining on the pitch Cardiff had a different set of problems to deal with and Hogan had a shot blocked before firing wide after being set up by Woods. There was, however, no denying him with seven minutes remaining. Bidwell delivered a corner, Yennaris fed it on and when Yoann Barbet’s effort hit the crossbar, Hogan reacted quickest to smash it home.
The striker had his second Championship goal after netting his first, the equaliser in a draw with Bristol City, on Saturday and his third followed almost as soon as the game resumed. Yennaris won the ball in midfield and Vibe was able to head towards goal, Hogan peeled off to the right and when the pass came he finished low past Marshall to double his and Brentford’s tally.
But any thoughts that the game was over were dispelled within seconds. This time it was a Cardiff substitute that had his say. Kenneth Zohore got away from Dean and with the Brentford man appealing for a foul he drew Button and toe-poked the ball past him in to the net. That set up an end-to-end finish and Hogan almost got away from Morrison to make it three for Brentford during one counter-attack.
It was Cardiff, however, that pushed forward late on. Ball after ball was lifted towards the Brentford box with the visitors’ powerful attacker using their height and strength to fight for it. Button was able to prevent Zohore poking in after he got on to a long free kick and the Cardiff substitute then curled a shot over. Dean and Barbet repelled most of the attacks but there was still time for Button to save from Tom Lawrence before the final whistle went to give Brentford the win.
Brentford: Button; Clarke, Dean, Barbet, Bidwell; Yennaris, McCormack; Woods, Saunders (sub Canós 67 mins), Kerschbaumer (sub Hogan 75 mins); Vibe
Subs (not used): Bonham, O’Connell, Cole, Gogia, Djuricin
Bookings: Saunders (22 mins), Button (90 mins) (fourth of season)
Cardiff City: Marshall; Peltier, Morrison, Connolly, Malone; Noone (sub Lawrence 75 mins), Ralls, O’Keefe (sub Ameobi 87 mins), Whittingham; Pilkington; Immers (sub Zohore 84 mins)
Subs (not used): Moore, Turner, Dikgacoi, Saadi
Bookings: Connolly (26 mins), Noone (60 mins)
Attendance: 8,363 (657 away fans)