Brentford 2 Chesterfield 1: Match Report

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Spireites dreadful run continued in a scrappy game at Griffin Park. They have now picked up just a point from the last seven games and remain rooted in the drop zone.

John Sheridan’s men created plenty of chances, fewer than the hosts, but they looked nervous and frequently devoid of confidence.

The two goals Chesterfield conceded both came from set pieces, both of the plays coming after the visitors had needlessly surrendered possession in midfield.

Having earned heaps of praise for their performance in the midweek draw at Rochdale, the same 11 players were soon on the back foot. The Bees, without a home goal in three games and with no home wins in over two months, came quickly out of the traps.

Niall McGinn hit the side netting in the opening 40 seconds and debut maker Dale Bennett, borrowed from Watford, headed wide from a corner. Aaron Downes nicked the ball off former Spireites target Clayton Donaldson, and every home connection called for a penalty, but the well positioned referee waved play on.

Mike Grella went close as Spireites struggled to get out of their own half so it came as no surprise when Brentford took the lead. Chesterfield were in possession on the halfway line when Danny Whitaker’s pass was easily gathered by McGinn who darted towards the box. Whitaker back tracked but fouled the Bees man 25 yards out and from the free kick, Sam Saunders hammered directly into the roof of the net.

Rather than boost the goal shy Bees, the goal fired up the under pressure Spireites and they were soon level.

Craig Westcarr played the ball wide to Alex Mendy, his right sided cross pinballed around before Nathan Smith, with a hint of an arm, got the ball down to Leon Clarke who converted from eight yards to register his eighth goal in 10 games.

The spell to half time was dominated by Chesterfield. Dean Holden had a header cleared off the line by Blair Adams ahead of Smith having a gilt-edged opportunity following Mendy’s cross, but the man without a goal in almost three years failed to get any strength on his angled shot and Richard Lee comfortably gathered when he should have been made to pick the ball from his net. Mendy and Whitaker had box-edge efforts ahead of the break as some reward from the game looked more than likely.

Rather than rally after the break, both sides initially looked nervous and mistakes were commonplace. Grella and Toumani Diagourara both went close with headers from corners whilst Jonathan Grounds shot wide from a Chesterfield flag kick.

Brentford began to gain the initiative with Jonathan Douglas, the man who scored the goal at Blackpool that prevented relegation for Chesterfield in 2003, forced a fine save from Greg Fleming and he began to dominate midfield after Craig Clay had replaced Whitaker.

Westcarr had a few half chances in occasional Chesterfield breaks but Bees continued to dominate possession with Saunders also making Fleming work.

Jordan Bowery came on for Lee Johnson as Sheridan switched it from five in midfield to a 4-4-2 and, from then on, Chesterfield’s engine room seized up and Brentford ruled the roost, scoring the winner with eight minutes remaining when Saunders’ corner saw Bennett beat Grounds to the header and bag a debut winner.

In the final few minutes, Brentford carved out half a dozen decent chances as Chesterfield’s midfield imploded and, in the end, they were well beaten in a game that, at half-time, they looked a good bet for some reward.

Sheridan conceded: “It could have ended up 4-1 or 5-1 in the end. We settled into the game and in the last 20 minutes we were well in it. We had some good opportunities and I felt very comfortable but then we conceded the goal.”

Brentford (4-4-2): Lee 6, Logan 6, Bennett 7, Llera 7, Adams 7, Saunders 8 (Eger 88), Douglas 7, Diagouraga 6, McGinn 7 (Weston 83), Grella 5 (Alexander 73), Donaldson 5. Subs (not used): Woodman, Reeves.

Chesterfield: (4-5-1): Fleming 7, Talbot 6, Holden 7, Downes 6, Grounds 6, Westcarr 7, Mendy 6, Johnson 7 (Bowery 79), Whitaker 5 (Clay 64, 5), Smith 6, Clarke 6. Subs (not used): Mattis, Morgan, Randall.