MATCH REPORT: PNE 1 Brentford 3

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Brentford punished PNE for missed opportunities as the clinical Bees stung late on to kill any hopes of a North End fight back and seal a 3-1 victory at Deepdale.

Jake Bidwell opened the scoring in the 22nd minute as his curling free-kick bypassed a flurry of heads and sailed into the net.

Adam Reach levelled moments later with a first-time shot but Alan Judge restored Brentford’s lead in the 43rd minute as he danced past PNE left-back Greg Cunningham and drilled the ball past Sam Johnstone.

North End could have been reduced to 10-men as the first half ended on a sour note.

Striker Garner appeared to swing an arm at Sam Saunders and miss and within seconds the halfway line was transformed into a seething pit filled with players from both teams as tempers boiled over.

After much deliberation and discussions with the fourth official and linesman referee David Webb brandished a yellow card.

After the match PNE boss Simon Grayson said he felt the referee made the right decision.

In the second 45 PNE went for the jugular as they hit the woodwork twice and Joe Garner had a goal wiped out for offside.

But despite throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Brentford’s goal North End could not find an equaliser and the Bees killed the game off in the 80th minute as John Swift’s deflected strike looped over Johnstone.

Grayson made only one change to the side that drew 1-1 at Ipswich as Adam Reach was recalled to the starting XI and Alan Browne dropped to the bench.

It was a stale opening 20 minutes as both sides made a lethargic start to proceedings but the game suddenly exploded into life in the 22nd minute.

Cunningham’s flailing leg caught Sam Saunders just outside the box and Bidwell stepped up to whip the ball left-footed past a sea of heads and into the left corner.

North End were level just a minute later as Garner carved out an opening in the box and Reach nipped in to nick the ball off his feet and fire the ball home with his right foot.

Huntington was booked for upending Saunders just inside PNE’s half in the 29th minute and the culprit became the victim just moments later as Brentford’s Maxime Colin was shown a yellow card for a challenge on Huntington.

Colin took out Cunningham on the left just as the left-back fizzed the ball past him and attempted to run towards goal. But miraculously the referee waved away Cunningham’s claims of a foul.

Gallagher blasted an effort over the bar and his free-kick from the left was headed out just as an on-running Eoin Doyle was steaming in at the back post.

Judge showed just why there is an alleged £8m price tag to his name as he plucked centre back Yoann Barbet’s sensational 60-yard crossfield pass from the left out of the air and made mincemeat of Cunningham before slipping the ball past Sam Johnstone in the 43rd minute.

Judge cut in from the right and ghosted past Cunningham before reaching the middle of the box and picking his spot.

But it was a fiery end to the half as North End hit-man Joe garner was involved in a tussle with Saunders in front of the technical area.

Garner sprinted away from the scene as it boiled over into a big melee involving both sets of players on the half way line.

The striker had appeared to swing an arm at Saunders and miss but after a lengthy discussion with the linesman and the fourth official referee David Webb decided to show Garner a yellow card.

Gallagher also saw yellow just moments before the referee blew for half-time.

Garner was straight back in the action at the start of the second half.

He stormed down the left flank and slipped a pin-point pass into the path of Doyle to run one-on-one with Button. The striker beat the keeper but his effort just rolled agonisingly wide of the right post.

Lasse Vibe had his head in his hands after he wasted a golden opportunity to increase Brentford’s lead.

Bidwell nodded the ball across goal into the path of the unmarked Vibe but he headed the ball over from just three yards out with the goal at his mercy.

Dean was booked for a foul on Garner and then Grayson’s men started to throw everything but the kitchen sink at Brentford as they peppered the Bees goal.

Woods’ curler from just outside the box was tipped away by a diving Button.

Cunningham pulled the ball back to Gallagher and he fizzed the ball onto the head of Huntington but the big defender’s header crashed back off the crossbar.

Garner had the ball into the back of the net moments later after Huntington unselfishly opted to nod the ball back across goal but unfortunately the flag was raised and the striker’s tap-in was chalked off.

North End were denied by the woodwork once more as Garner deftly deflected Johnson’s long range effort towards goal but Button made a fantastic stop as he clawed the ball away.

But clinical Brentford punished PNE for their missed opportunities as Swift latched onto Colin’s pass and his deflected strike looped over a stranded Johnstone in the 80th minute.

Button was not undone by the torrential rain as he just held Hugill’s header on the line.

And it was to be the last attempt of the afternoon as the game came to a damp close at a sodden Deepdale.

PNE: Johnstone, Woods (Vermijl, 79), Huntington, Wright, Cunningham, Johnson, Pearson (Robinson, 62), Gallagher, Doyle (Hugill, 62), Garner, Reach. Subs not used: Kirkland, Kilkenny, Browne, Welsh.

Brentford: Button, Colin, Bidwell, Dean, Saunders (Canos, 78), McEachran (Kerschbaumer, 73), Woods, Judge, Swift (Yennaris, 90) , Vibe, Barbet. Subs not used: Bonham, Hofmann, O’Connell, Gogia.

Referee: David Webb (Lancashire)

Attendance: 11,080