Brentford bounced back to winning ways with a 4-1 demolition of Reading at Griffin Park. The Bees came in to the match having lost to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, ending a four-game unbeaten run. But they were in no mood for a repeat at Griffin Park and produced a stunning display to beat their visitors, who were unbeaten in six Sky Bet Championship games before they arrived in West London. A two-goal blast just before the break set The Bees on their way and two more after made the game safe. Reading pulled a goal back to make it 3-1 but never really looked like taking anything from the game.
Josh Clarke scored his first for The Bees to put them in front late in the first period and Maxime Colin also netted his first Brentford goal after the break. Lasse Vibe had notched a second to give Brentford a 2-0 half time lead and Scott Hogan got his seventh of the season to make it 4-1 and calm any nerves after Reading’s goal. In truth it could have been many more. Brentford created dozens of chances and there were fine saves and late blocks to deny them. But Reading were also a dangerous attacking outfit, they hit the post twice and could have scored more than one. But there was also no doubt which team deserved the win.
Brentford started the game at a frantic pace. Everything they did in the opening exchanges seemed to be at a high tempo and it almost got them an early goal. Nico Yennaris burst from midfield, leaving Reading players in his wake, and slipped a ball through to Hogan, the striker turned but failed to connect properly with his shot and it was blocked before a follow-up effort also failed to beat the defence.
That set a mark for the way Brentford wanted to play the game. Yennaris and Alan McCormack in midfield were always busy. They regularly got beyond their Reading counterparts and the visiting attacking midfielders did not look like they wanted to track the pair’s runs. The Reading defence was, however, well-organised and there was no way through for The Bees in the first half hour, albeit Joey van den Berg and John Swift both received cautions for fouls stopping Brentford breaks.
From one of the free kicks won by Brentford’s attacking endeavours, Andreas Bjelland curled an effort in to the side netting. The kick beat Reading goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi all ends up and hit the side netting in such a way that many fans thought it was the opening goal. That almost came moments later when a clever Clarke pass released Colin on the right, his cut back looked perfect for Vibe to finish but a fine tackle from van den Berg stopped the Brentford man finishing a fine move off.
Clarke had a shot saved for The Bees soon after as the hosts tried to turn their early domination in to the lead. Reading had offered little in an attacking sense in the first half hour. A shot from Callum Harriott, cutting in off the right, had flown well over and their attacking play had been limited. The visitors had a lot of the ball and were patient with it but Brentford’s energetic approach meant they could not make inroads further up the pitch until closer to half time. Even then in open play efforts from John Swift, well wide, and Roy Beerens, straight at Daniel Bentley, did not unduly concern The Bees.
From set pieces, however, the visitors did pose problems. The delivery from Swift, in particular, was very dangerous and Brentford were forced to clear deep in their own six-yard box whenever Reading had a chance to deliver a set piece. And they almost scored from one six minutes before half time. Swift sent over a free kick from the right and George Evans diverted a header across goal, it beat Bentley but hit the post and bounced clear. The resulting scramble saw half chances for Paul McShane and Yann Kermorgant but Brentford’s defence got the ball clear with Yennaris throwing his body in the way.
The importance of that moment became clear seconds later when Brentford took the lead. It was the move of the match to that point and cut Reading open. John Egan started it with a run out of defence and, after the move had been partially halted in midfield, Romaine Sawyers got on to a clever pass from Vibe, he returned it – via a clever Hogan dummy – and the ball was worked on to Clarke to slot past Al-Habsi and put Brentford ahead.
The single goal advantage was quickly added to as Brentford doubled their lead a minute before half time. Hogan reacted quickest as McShane intercepted an attempted Sawyers pass and threaded a ball from the by-line in to the middle for the arriving Vibe to poke under Al-Habsi. The intelligence and awareness of Hogan made the goal and Vibe was quick enough off the mark to poke it home.
There was still time in a frenetic half for Bentley to push away a shot from Beerens and when Kermorgant attempted to turn in the rebound, Bjelland diverted it away for a corner. The interval gave everyone a chance to draw breath after a frantic 45 minutes with a helter-skelter end. And when the teams came out for the second period, the action picked up where it left off. If anything, the tempo went up a notch as Reading pushed forward looking for a way back in to the game and Brentford tried to exploit the gaps.
Vibe had a shot saved within 30 seconds of the restart after he picked up a clever Bjelland pass while Egan had to chest a header from Kermorgant off the line at the other end after a great run and cross from Chris Gunter. Reading’s desire to play out from the back almost caught them out but Al-Habsi saved at the feet of Vibe after the Danish attacker nearly profited from a loose pass. It wasn’t the only time that Reading almost came a cropper in their own penalty area and the footwork of Al-Habsi was one of the game’s highlights.
The Reading goalkeeper was also starring with his hands. He made a superb save to deny Hogan after the striker had been released by a superb McCormack pass. The lofted finish from Hogan would have caught out many goalkeepers but not Al-Habsi. The goalkeeper was in the action again seconds later, going full stretch to his left to keep out a Hogan shot but had to rely on McShane soon after when Colin burst through the defence and set up Vibe, the Reading defender making a vital tackle to force the Danish attacker to poke wide.
There was no way Reading’s defence could hold out and Brentford’s third goal eventually came just before the hour mark. Sawyers spread the play from the left and Colin attempted to feed Vibe, when the ball bounced back to the French defender he smashed a shot past Al-Habsi and in to the roof of the net from six yards. It was his first Brentford goal and simply unstoppable.
But Reading came straight back at The Bees, looking to reduce the deficit. Harriott smashed the base of the post with a shot from 18 yards after good work from Beerens and Swift had a shot blocked before the visitors won a penalty. A clever pass from Beerens put Quinn in behind Yennaris and he then slowed, meaning the Brentford man clattered his ankles. Referee Oliver Langford had no option but to award a penalty and Kermorgant smashed it high past Bentley.
That gave Reading a lift and Brentford had to ensure their lead was not dwindled. Evans shot wide from a half-cleared cross but that was the only chance the visitors had. Brentford slowed the game down, introducing Josh McEachran to give them fresh legs, and looked to take the sting out of Reading. The visitors had plenty of the ball but couldn’t create chances and Brentford then set about putting the game beyond them.
Hogan could have scored when he got on to a poor McShane header but he lifted an effort wide. Moments later, however, he made no mistake. McEachran latched on to a loose ball with his first touch a played a first time pass that split the Reading defence, Hogan ran on to it and calmly slotted past Al-Habsi to get his customary goal. And from then on, it was exhibition stuff. Reading tried to find a way back in to the game but were tired and horribly exposed by Brentford’s attacking prowess.
Sawyers flicked a McEachran corner over at the near post before Harlee Dean strode out of defence and fired narrowly over from 35 yards. Brentford almost grabbed a goal to savour when he finished off a move that saw Sawyers play a 50-yard pass to Colin, get one back of similar length and chest it first time in to the patch of Sullay Kaikai, the shot was low and hard but Al-Habsi kept it out. McEachran then had a shot blocked after great work from Colin and, at the death, Al-Habsi prevented Evans turning a Sawyers cross in to his own net. There was no last-minute cherry on top of the cake but it was certainly a night to savour for The Bees.
Brentford: Bentley; Colin, Dean, Egan, Bjelland (sub Barbet 69 mins); Yennaris, McCormack (sub McEachran 84 mins); Clarke, Vibe (sub Kaikai 88 mins), Sawyers; Hogan
Subs (not used): Bonham, Macleod, Saunders, Hofmann
Bookings: Dean (5 mins) (third of season), McCormack (19 mins), Bjelland (69 mins), Yennaris (81 mins)
Reading: Al-Habsi; Gunter, Moore, McShane, Obita; van den Berg (sub Quinn h/t), Evans; Harriott (sub Samuel 85 mins), Swift, Beerens (sub Mendes 85 mins); Kermorgant
Subs (not used): Jaakkola, Gravenberch, Watson, Kelly
Bookings: van den Berg (16 mins), Swift (19 mins)
Attendance: 9,679 (1,646 away fans)