Home-grown hero Kyle Edwards sealed a hard-fought victory for West Brom to make it two wins out of two for caretaker boss Jimmy Shan and keep their promotion push up and running.
After a close-knit first half, Edwards produced a moment of magic to break the deadlock six minutes after half-time with a brilliant solo effort.
Julian Jeanvier and Yoann Barbet were among those to force fine saves from visiting goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, but the former Manchester United stopper ultimately couldn’t be beaten.
The Baggies are now seven points off the automatic promotion spots with eight games left to play, while defeat brings an end to Brentford’s record of five consecutive home wins and all but brings their play-off chase to an end.
On an emotional day for the away side following news that club director Simon Carrington has lost his battle with cancer, it was West Brom who started the stronger of the two sides. Backed by vociferous support, the Baggies had two corners within the first three minutes. Despite two searching balls from skipper Chris Brunt, the away side couldn’t produce anything to concern home goalkeeper Luke Daniels, again deputising for the injured Dan Bentley.
The Bees slowly worked their way into the game and it was they who carved out the first real opening in the sixth minute. Man-of-the-moment Said Benrahma – looking for his eighth Championship goal in only his 13th start – made his mark on the match with a determined drive into the Albion area, forcing an unconvincing save from Johnstone.
Brentford were now in control of possession and searching for that elusive, opening goal. Romain Sawyers, fresh from a call-up to the St Kitts and Nevis international squad during the week, tested Johnstone with a blistering shot after it fell kindly for him on the edge of the box.
The visitors were still a threat though and reminded the Bees of the dangers they possess in the 23rd minute. After some sloppy play from Jeanvier gifted West Brom a corner, a period of Baggies pressure ensued; culminating in Edwards shooting just over following some trickery on the left flank.
At the other end, referee Andrew Madley was quick to wave away appeals for a penalty from the home crowd after Neal Maupay’s quick feet had dazed and dazzled the West Brom defence.
At the mid-way point of the first half, it really was anybody’s game and it already seemed that a moment of magic could prove to be the difference between the two sides.
On half-an-hour, a golden chance fell to the home side, but perhaps to the wrong man. A well-worked corner saw Benrahma find Sergi Canos, and his neat work set up Jeanvier who couldn’t convert from close range.
Dwight Gayle received the game’s first booking in the 33rd minute for a foul on Ezri Konsa, but then played his part in a good opportunity for the promotion-chasing side. He smartly found Jay Rodriguez, who produced a searching ball that Sawyers did well to steer comfortably back to Daniels in the home net.Embed from Getty Images
Despite the high intensity of the first period, neither side was easing off in its closing stages. Johnstone was called upon again to make an acrobatic save to stop Barbet’s curling free-kick finding the top corner of the net, after Edwards was penalised for a foul on Konsa four minutes before the break.
An altercation between Maupay and Ahmed Hegazi summed up the competitive nature of the match, before Madley brought the half to a halt with the tie still goalless.
The Bees began the second half on the front foot with a Moses Odubajo shot forcing a save from Johnstone shortly before the restart.
But the Baggies made the breakthrough in the 51st minute with a fantastic solo goal from 21-year-old Edwards. Stefan Johansen spread the ball out wide to the youngster, who proceeded to trickle his way past a maze of Brentford defenders and calmly slot home for his first Championship goal.Embed from Getty Images
With it all to do, the Bees came back at the away side and a brave block from Conor Townsend was required to prevent Canos drawing level in the 56th minute.
Sawyers was next to go into the book as tempers flared, and Gayle squandered a great chance to double the away side’s advantage as he skewed wide on the hour mark.
Hegazi was next to call Daniels into action – his looping effort needing to be turned away following more good work from Edwards – as Albion looked to assert control on the game.
Both sides had their share of chances, but Albion had the ball in the net again after 71 minutes, only for Dawson’s effort to be ruled out for offside.
In the closing stages, Gayle forced a fine save from Daniels from a free-kick on the edge of the area as West Brom looked to put the game to bed.
But a second goal wasn’t required and, despite a tense finish, Brentford were unable to force an equaliser before Madley called time on the game to confirm the Baggies win.
Featured photograph/Peter White