Time after time this season, Brentford have been renewing acquaintanceship with clubs they have not met for many a day.
In a first League meeting with Blackburn since 1980, they again acquitted themselves well, consolidating fifth place in the Championship with a deserved victory. It was a sixth win in seven games to follow defeat at Huddersfield last week, emphasising what a fine job Mark Warburton has done with one of London’s Cinderella sides, who are already having a ball.
Blackburn, unbeaten on the road in five previous games, were made to regret leaving out the former Brentford favourite Jordan Rhodes for the first time this season in order to bolster their midfield.
Midway through the second half he had to be sent for after they fell 3-1 behind, having equalised just on half-time then conceding twice in six minutes. Jonathan Douglas, a Blackburn player for five years, had put his first club behind in the 16th minute. The adventurous home left-back Jake Bidwell was far enough forward for a cross-cum-shot that Douglas, one of those players who could be used as an advert for a long-life battery, was able to turn in after surging into the penalty area.
Rovers, in contrast, needed charging up, which finally happened in the second quarter of the game. Ben Marshall produced two good efforts from midfield and just before tea-time Craig Conway was allowed to cross from the right for Rudy Gestede. The Benin international’s volley into the ground seemed to take a deflection before beating goalkeeper David Button.
One of the early highlights was the catchweight contest between the visitors’ Scottish international centre-half and captain Grant Hanley and Andre Gray, a Conference player until this summer. Left standing once by the former Luton striker’s clever turn, Hanley then had to block Douglas’s drive after heading the ball out to him. In the 56th minute, it was Hanley’s partner Shane Duffy who was exposed by Gray. The striker took a cross on his chest, apparently miskicking, but then hooking in a sixth goal in seven games. Although Marshall soon hit a post, Jota, the Spaniard from Celta Vigo, scored the decisive third when a lucky bounce, as he looked for Douglas, fell perfectly for him to beat Jason Steele.
Rhodes almost jabbed a cross past Button, then stabbed one wide and shot over, doubtless convincing the visiting fans he should have been on earlier.
Brentford: (4-2-3-1): Button; Odubajo, Dean, Craig, Bidwell; Douglas, Diagouraga; Jota (Dallas, 75), Pritchard (Smith, 86), Judge; Gray (Proschwitz, 86).
Blackburn: (4-4-1-1): Steele; Baptiste (Lowe, 87), Hanley, Duffy, Olsson; Marshall, Evans, Williamson (Rhodes, 66), Conway (Dunn, 66); Tunnicliffe; Gestede.
Referee: Andy Woolmer
Man of the match: Douglas (Brentford)
Match rating: 7/10Reuse content