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Full-time: Brentford 1 PNE 0

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Preston North End could not halt Brentford’s promotion party as a controversial first-half penalty decision secured a 1-0 victory for the Bees and cemented second spot in the League One table.

The Griffin Park defeat ends PNE’s hopes of nabbing the last automatic promotion place as Wolves’ 6-4 victory over Rotherham and Crawley’s win over Leyton Orient sealed the Bees rise to the Championship.

George Saville danced past several PNE players before tumbling from an alleged Bailey Wright foul in the penalty box. The referee awarded Brentford a penalty and on-loan Blackburn Rovers midfielder Alan Judge stepped up to slot home in the 30th minute - but later missed a second spot-kick with ten minutes left to play.

North End were galvanised by the miss but could not test Bees keeper David Button in front of 1,657 travelling North End fans in the closing stages of the Gentry day match.

PNE manager Simon Grayson made two changes to the side that beat Carlisle 6-1 last weekend. Wright and Chris Humphrey returned to the starting XI as Lee Holmes and Paul Gallagher dropped to the bench.

And top scorer Joe Garner - who missed last weeks impressive victory to attend the birth of his baby daughter Hattie - did not feature against the Bees because of a calf injury.

Brentford had a lively start - Judge ran into space on the left but his angled flew wide of Declan Rudd’s right hand post in the seventh minute.

And Rudd just tipped a Judge effort over the bar in the ninth minute. He smashed a dipping shot towards the middle of goal but PNE’s keeper dealt with the danger.

Craig Davies linked up with Alan Browne but Davies’ shot from the left hand side of the penalty box was stopped by Bees defender Tony Craig’s sliding block in the 16th minute.

Marcello Trotta galloped down the left wing before pulling the ball back across the byline for Clayton Donaldson but the Bees striker’s touch was deflected wide of the PNE goal by Bailey Wright in the 19th minute.

And Neil Kilkenny was booked in the 23rd minute for pulling back Donaldson.

Brentford were awarded a penalty in the 29th minute as Saville - who had earlier appealed for a penalty after aerially challenging for a Donaldson cross at the back post with Keith Keane - danced across some loose legs at the top of PNE’s penalty area before going down.

Referee Keith Hill pointed to the spot and Judge stepped up to smash the ball straight down the middle and into the net in the 30th minute.

Minutes later Judge was booked for simulation as he tumbled to the ground just inside PNE’s penalty box.

And Stuart Dallas was booked at the end of the first half for a late challenge on PNE defender Scott Laird.

At the start of the second half Donaldson smacked a screaming shot from the left but Rudd made a great save to deny the striker.

Moments later Saville’s dipping, curling shot just fell inches over the bar as Brentford upped the tempo.

Grayson made a double sub in the 54th minute bringing Lee Holmes and Paul Gallagher on for Craig Davies and Neil Kilkenny.

PNE threw bodies forward and Stuart Beavon picked up on a loose pass outside the Brentford box before feeding Humphrey in on the right. But the Jamaica international crashed his shot wide of Button’s right hand post in the 59th minute.

Browne was booked in the 64th minute for bouncing the ball away after he was ruled to have had the last touch as Brentford were awarded a throw-in.

And 19-year-old Browne nearly levelled moments later as he latched on to a free-kick launched from deep in the PNE half in the 67th minute. But his glancing header from inside the box flew inches wide.

Up the other end Trotta smashed a shot in the box through a pile of bodies but Keane just managed to clear the danger.

Laird toe-poked the ball inches over the bar after picking up the loose ball in the Brentford box from a PNE corner in the 75th minute.

In the 80th minute Brentford were awarded another penalty as Wright was judged to have fouled Donaldson in the air just inside the box. But Judge stepped up and blazed the spot kick over the bar.

PNE tried in vain to find an equaliser but Brentford managed to hold on to their lead and Griffin Park erupted in euphoria as Bees fans invaded the pitch and celebrated promotion.

PNE: Rudd, Clarke, King, Wright, Humphrey (K Davies), Keane, Kilkenny (Gallagher, 54), Browne, Laird, C Davies (Holmes, 54), Beavon. Subs: Buchanan, Brownhill, Huntington, Stuckmann.

Brentford: Button, Craig, Douglas, Donaldson, McCormack, Dallas (Grigg, 83), Saville (Diagouraga, 85), Judge, Bidwell, Tarkowski, Trotta (Reeves, 76). Subs: Lee, O’Connor, Saunders, Yennaris.

Refree: Keith Hill (Hertfordshire)

Attendance: 10,774 (1,659 PNE)

 

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