Barnsley played party poopers as they spoiled the celebrations to mark Brentford’s 4000th EFL game by winning at Griffin Park. The Yorkshire side scored a goal in each half and defended resolutely to take a 2-0 win in West London. It was an afternoon to forget for The Bees. Chances came and went and they contributed to their own downfall with defensive errors that handed Barnsley their goals. But the organisation and defensive solidity displayed by the visitors means they will go away thinking they were well worth the win.
Brentford started the game in a positive fashion. They looked to attack from the kick-off and most of the early exchanges took place in Barnsley territory. There were appeals for a penalty when it looked as if Angus MacDonald had used an arm to prevent Scott Hogan knocking the ball past him but referee James Linington did not react. Moments later Sullay Kaikai missed the target with a curling shot while Adam Armstrong blasted well wide at the other end.
Brentford would probably have been the happier team after the first ten minutes but Barnsley had given an idea as to the challenge they would pose. They came to Griffin Park with two banks of four and were extremely well organised, making it difficult for Brentford to play through them. They were robust in the tackle and had pace and movement in attack with Armstrong and Sam Winnall happy to drop short and run in behind to pose different problems.
Brentford were still in the ascendency as the first half reached the midway point. Yoann Barbet had a volley blocked and Maxime Colin almost combined with Hogan for a goal soon after. The full back darted in to the box and fed Hogan, he turned his man and played the ball back inside but it just eluded Colin’s continued run and the chance had gone. There was an even better chance later in the half for The Bees later in the half when Hogan turned Adam Jackson and headed towards goal, his cut back was sliced by Sam Saunders and Kaikai could only turn it over from ten yards as he saw the ball late.
By that point, however, Barnsley were well in the game and arguably had the upper hand. Wide players Ryan Kent and, particularly, Marley Watkins were starting to have an influence and the visitors created chances. Winnall volleyed a Watkins cross wide before Daniel Bentley saved a long-range effort from Kent. There was an even better chance for Winnall, who shot wide when getting on to a Watkins nod down, before Barnsley went ahead just before the half hour. Brentford failed to deal with a long free kick played in to the box and Armstrong latched on to the ball, getting in a shot that he appeared to mishit, Bentley got a hand to it but could not keep it out.
Brentford responded well to going behind and arguably had their best spell of the half in the final 15 minutes. Ryan Woods saw a long range shot saved by Adam Davies before Romain Sawyers missed the target from a similar distance on the opposite side of the pitch. Davies then saved at the feet of Hogan after Colin had put a ball in behind and the right back then delivered a cross that Saunders headed over.
A Sullay Kaikai free kick almost created an equaliser when Woods flicked on, Hogan’s shot was blocked and Barbet’s follow-up was deflected wide. Woods saw a shot saved following a short corner and Saunders then looped a header on to the roof of the net, his last action before he was replaced by Josh Clarke at half time. The half ended in tetchy fashion with Winnall, Hogan and MacDonald all being booked within a minute but a fractious game suited the visitors and they would have gone in at half time with a spring in their step.
And they started the second half in a way that suggested they were not going to sit back on their lead. They went on to the front foot from the kick off and could have made the game safe before the hour mark. Bentley saved from Winnall when the striker tried to squeeze a shot in at the near post and James Bree shot wide from the resulting corner. Bentley then denied Kent before Armstrong set up Watkins after a nice run from deep and the Brentford goalkeeper saved again.
Brentford then introduced Josh McEachran and started to take the initiative again, after Barnsley’s fast start to the second period. Hogan came close to an equaliser when he blasted a Clarke cut back narrowly wide at the near post and when a Colin cross was half cleared moments later, Nico Yennaris’ headed attempt from 15 yards was saved. Colin then set up Hogan after a one-two with Yennaris but the striker’s toe-poked shot was saved and he slipped moments later when attempting to convert another Colin cross.
When Barnsley doubled their lead moments later, it was perhaps slightly against the flow of the previous ten minutes but not undeserved. Kent was the architect, he darted forward and weaved in to the box before firing in a low shot that beat Bentley but hit the inside of his post, fortunately for Barnsley it rolled across the goal where Winnall could tap in from two yards. That gave Brentford a mountain to climb and Conor Hourihane could have made the game safe when he robbed Woods and headed towards goal but he shot wide from 20 yards.
Brentford tried to respond but Barnsley’s defensive line was very solid. They gave little space in behind and squeezed the gaps between the lines, giving Brentford nowhere to play. Josh McEachran shot wide from distance before Colin smashed a shot against the crossbar after a Clarke cross had been blocked. John Egan blocked an Armstrong effort before Brentford broke and Davies saved Clarke’s deflected effort as it flew just past the foot of Hogan.
Clarke had a golden chance when he exchanged passes with McEachran and was faced with only Davies to beat but the Barnsley goalkeeper denied him and substitute Philipp Hofmann had a shot blocked soon after. Bentley pushed an Adam Hamill cross away from the onrushing Winnall but even as the game ticked in to stoppage time Brentford maintained hope of getting something. A Clarke pass put Hogan in behind but he pulled a shot wide, an effort that summed up his afternoon. Davies then made a superb save to deny Yennaris and extinguish any feint hope Brentford had of a comeback. Bentley denied Hourihane what would have been an unjust third at the death but nothing Brentford did could deny the visitors the win.
Brentford: Bentley; Colin, Egan, Bjelland, Barbet; Woods, Yennaris; Saunders (sub Clarke h/t), Sawyers (sub Hofmann 79 mins), Kaikai (sub McEachran 58 mins); Hogan
Subs (not used): Bonham, Dean, Macleod, Kerschbaumer
Bookings: Hogan (45 mins) (second of season), McEachran (66 mins) (second of season)
Barnsley: Davies; Bree, MacDonald, Jackson, Yiadom; Watkins, Morsy, Hourihane, Kent (sub Hamill 86 mins); Winnall (sub Brown 90 mins), Armstrong (sub Williams 85 mins)
Subs (not used): Townsend, Lee, Evans, Kpekawa
Bookings: Winnall (45 mins), MacDonald (45 mins), Hourihane (81 mins)
Attendance: 10,417 (947 away fans)