PNE 1 Brentford 3
Goals from Jake Bidwell, Alan Judge and a deflected effort from John Swift gave Brentford the three points at Deepdale, despite Adam Reach’s third goal for the Club.
Bidwell’s free kick opened the scoring before Reach levelled matters less than 75 second later. Judge restored the Bees lead before the break and despite large swathes of pressure from North End, including two efforts against the woodwork and one ruled out for offside, John Swift sealed the win with a deflected effort ten minutes from time.
Ben Pearson was selected for his home debut, whilst Reach returned from injury in place of Alan Browne, who was on the bench alongside Callum Robinson – another making his first return to Deepdale.
After a slow start the game came to life midway through the first half.
The visitors opened the scoring from a free kick. Sam Saunders brought down by Greg Cunningham on the right hand corner of the box and Bees skipper Jake Bidwell curled the ball into the bottom left hand corner giving Sam Johnstone no chance.
The lead lasted less than 75 seconds though as the ball was played forward by North End into Joe Garner in the box who was blocked, but the ball came back to Eoin Doyle who found Adam Reach, who in turn found the bottom left hand corner.
But Dean Smith’s side were back ahead when a long diagonal ball from Yoann Barbet from the back was collected out on the right hand side by Alan Judge who took the ball forward with his touch, away from Cunningham, and the midfielder then drove into the box and fired hard and low into the bottom left hand corner for his 12th goal of the season.
Five minutes into the second half and North End had a gilt-edged chance to get level. Greg Cunningham played the ball down the left hand side and Joe Garner threaded a clever ball in for Doyle who was clean through. He beat Button with his low shot but it also beat the right hand post across the goal going inches wide.
A double change saw Pearson and Doyle replaced by Hugill and Robinson with just under half an hour to go with North End now operating a 4-4-2 and this led to an upturn in tempo.
Callum Woods had a shot tipped over by Button mid-way through the half after Robinson’s run and pass as the Lilywhites built the pressure. A duo of corners followed and from the second North End hit the post. A cross from Robinson came off Barbet and back off the corner of post and bar and they then had a goal from Garner ruled out for offside as he buried a chance at the back post – marginal at best.
It was incessant pressure and Button made a brilliant save to deny Garner from 20 yards, tipping a vicious shot against the bar and then saving the same man’s follow up – an unbelievable stop from the Bees ’keeper.
But despite all the pressure a deflected goal with ten minutes left put Brentford two up. A run down the right by Maxime Colin was pulled back to John Swift whose swept shot ricocheted up and over Sam Johnstone and into the net.
North End had a chance to draw a goal closer with three minutes left when Jordan Hugill’s header was straight at David Button, but the second goal had taken much of the punch out of the home side’s revival and Brentford took the points.
PNE line-up: Johnstone, Woods (Vermijl, 79), Cunningham, Pearson (Robinson, 62), Huntington, Wright, Gallagher (c), Johnson, Garner, Doyle (Hugill, 62), Reach. Subs not used: Kirkland, Vermijl, Kilkenny, Browne, Welsh.
Brentford line-up: Button, Colin, Bidwell (c), Dean, Saunders (Canos, 78), McEachran (Kerschbaumer, 74), Woods, Judge, Swift (Yennaris, 89), Vibe, Barbet. Subs not used: Bonham, Hofmann, O’Connell, Gogia.
Attendance: 11,080 (598 away fans)
Referee: Mr D Webb