Brentford 1-0 Bolton: Neal Maupay strike eases pressure on Thomas Frank
Thomas Frank earns important win in charge of Brentford at Griffin Park.
Last Updated: 22/12/18 7:14pm
Brentford secured their first win in seven games as top scorer Neal Maupay's 13th goal of the season made the difference at home to Bolton.
The Frenchman struck in the 63rd minute, chesting down a cross into the box before rifling an unstoppable drive into the roof of the net.
But Bolton made the Bees work for their win and missed a string of opportunities to take something back to the north-west.
As they chased the game deep into injury time, goalkeeper Ben Alnwick came up for a corner and headed agonisingly wide with the Brentford defence all at sea.
The Bees looked nervous at the back and lacked a cutting edge up front but made the vital breakthrough just after the hour, sparking an end-to-end tussle of two brittle defences.
The first half was a tale of missed chances and sloppy passing from the hosts, who created a host of opportunities but lacked a clinical edge.
Ollie Watkins was the first to go close, but his volley at the far post after being picked out by Said Benrahma three minutes in was well high and wide.
Benrahma was at the centre of the Bees' most positive moves and ran at the visitors' defence before the move ended with Kamohelo Mokotjo seeing his sizzling low drive deflected just wide.
Gary O'Neil had the first effort on goal for Wanderers just after the half-hour, but his goal-bound strike was deflected agonisingly over the bar.
Maupay was well marshalled by Trotters defenders David Wheater and Jason Lowe and had to make do with a weak low shot easily saved by Alnwick for his only effort, until his second-half decider.
As Brentford struggled to find a way through Bolton's dogged defence their frustration grew and they were forced into trying their luck from range.
Benrahma's was probably the pick of the bunch, a dipping 25-yard effort forcing Alnwick into a good low save by the foot of his post.
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Skipper Romaine Sawyers was next to try his luck just before the break but his effort was a foot wide of the upright.
As Bolton opted for a more direct approach, Sammy Ameobi's height was a constant threat to Brentford's inexperienced defence and he thought he had teed up Christian Doidge but the ball rolled under his foot with the goal gaping.
Maupay's goal broke the deadlock and Benrahma could have added a second in the 74th minute when his free-kick clipped the top of the wall and dropped just over the bar.
The hosts were given a late scare when Ameobi again sent a header across the box and only a desperate late lunge from Mokotjo almost on the line cleared the danger.
Bolton thought they had salvaged a point on 88 minutes when Craig Noone skipped past three challenges in the box but held his head in his hands as his low cross dribbled past the far post.
Will Buckley's speculative ball into the box found Alnwick with seconds remaining but he failed to come up with the fairytale equaliser.
Thomas Frank: "One of the most difficult things in life is when you put a lot of work into things and don't get the reward, but today the players, staff and fans believed, stuck together and worked hard and got what they deserved,.
"We knew this was a final today because we could see there weren't many points between us and the relegation area. No one said it but we knew and we stayed focused to get the win we deserved."
Phil Parkinson: "It was a very tight game with very little in it. The quality of cross or desire in the six-yard box was not quite there to get us a goal but we've been in so many tight games.
"Brentford started better but we grew into the first half and got some good crosses in, but in the second half one moment of quality separates the teams."