Aston Villa fell to their eighth defeat of the season as Dean Smith returned to Griffin Park. A late Neil Maupay goal was the difference as Villa failed to take their chances before the Frenchman struck on the 91st minute.
Smith rattled the changes for this one, with Glenn Whelan, Kortney House and Albert Adomah coming into the first eleven. Mile Jedinak, Neil Taylor and Andre Green were replaced.
Brentford’s surprise tactical alternation to line up in a ‘three at the back’ caught Smith off guard, as the away side failed to move out of their own half for the majority of the first period. The Bees pressed Villa, limiting their time on the ball throughout.
Alan Hutton was the first culprit of the high press, as he lost the ball to Maupay on the right wing. Brentford’s top scorer struck towards Tommy Elphick whose block fell to Sergi Canos on the edge of Villa’s box. The tricky Spaniard teed himself up before striking a volley. This caused Nicola Kalinic enough problems that he had to palm over his crossbar as it looped above him.
After Moses Oudobajo also got the better of Hutton on the flank, the former Hull City man tried his luck from range. His strike could only find the side netting though. In Villa’s first attack of the game, Anwar El Ghazi replicated the previous Brentford move, as he cut inside from the left and powerfully drove towards Dan Bentley. Though, the Brentford keeper stood up to El Ghazi’s effort by palming around his post.
As Villa seemed content with keeping the scores level at the break, Tammy Abraham cleverly flicked the ball around the corner for Adomah to chase onto on the right wing. The Ghanaian however, knocked the ball forward to bear down on Bentley’s goal but failed to hit the target as he dragged his shot wide in the best chance of the game so far.
Chances fell to the host’s once more in the second period but goalkeeper Kalinic stood up well to the task on numerous occasions. Abraham’s penalty shout on the hour mark was waved away, as Julian Jeanvier took his ankles inside the box, but the referee adjudged the contact as accidental and not deliberate.
After Conor Hourihane blew the opportunity to break the deadlock after marching clear on goal, Maupay then stole the points at the death. Said Benrahma fed Maupay through the middle. Tommy Elphick dived in too hastily and Maupay then moved beyond Tyrone Mings to curl into the top corner.
Villa will now turn their attention to a Midlands derby as they entertain West Brom at Villa Park. They remain seven points off the playoffs.