Brentford 3-4 Nottingham Forest: Mark Warburton wins on Bees return
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 12/08/17 7:00pm
Mark Warburton made a winning return to former club Brentford as his Nottingham Forest side edged a pulsating seven-goal thriller.
Andreas Bouchalakis scored twice, with Daryl Murphy and Kieran Dowell also on target as the visitors triumphed 4-3 - their first win over the Bees in seven attempts.
Goals from John Egan, Andreas Bjelland and Neal Maupay were not enough to give Brentford their first points of the season.
The game exploded into life seven minutes before the break when the hosts took the lead, skipper Egan's far-post header creeping in with help from the post and Forest goalkeeper Jordan Smith.
It was all Brentford for much of the first period but the visitors turned the game before the break.
The unmarked Bouchalakis smashed home an unstoppable volley from the edge of the area on 41 minutes, with unsighted Bees keeper Daniel Bentley rooted to the spot, and the hosts' defensive frailty was exposed again two minutes later when Tendayi Darikwa wriggled his way clear of a cluster of Brentford defenders and fired in a low shot which cannoned back off the post for Murphy to tuck home.
It was flattering on a Forest side who made few meaningful forays into the Brentford half, but Dean Smith's side will rue a series of missed chances before the interval.
Smith's team-talk went out of the window within two minutes of the restart when Bouchalakis strode forward unchallenged and thrashed a swerving drive past a full-stretch Bentley to give Forest a two-goal cushion.
Lacklustre Brentford badly missed centre-back Harlee Dean, who watched on from the bench with Sheffield Wednesday reportedly stepping up their interest in the £3million-rated target.
But they gave themselves hope on 79 minutes when Bjelland's glancing header from a Jota cross crept over the line. Forest hit back when Dowell latched onto another half clearance and fired a low drive which deflected past Bentley and in.
Brentford wanted to score the perfect goal throughout and it came when a well-worked move found new signing Maupay, who slid a low shot just inside the upright. But it was too little, too late.
The Bees could blame lady luck to a degree as Florian Jozefzoon saw a dipping free-kick fly to safety off the post, but without Dean at the back their defence always looked brittle against a lively and direct Forest outfit.
Both keepers also played their part in keeping it to seven, Jordan Smith denying Jota from point-blank range and Bentley flying off his line to thwart Barrie McKay.
New signing from Exeter Ollie Watkins looked a constant threat for the Bees and his long-range drive with almost the last kick was tipped onto the post by Smith, to leave Warburton celebrating the end of a run of six games which had seen Forest take just one point from the London side.
Dean Smith: "It was a mad game. We were in cruise control for the first 40 minutes and if we'd been more decisive with our finishing we'd have been going in comfortable at the break.
"As it was, we've given some soft goals away and they went into a 3-1 lead shortly after half-time and we started chasing the game too early, leaving gaps at the back."
Mark Warburton: "We have to be more ruthless and kill games like that off. At 3-1 we had a number of breakaways with Daryl Murphy and Barrie McKay but we didn't finish them off. At 5-1 it's game over, but we weren't clinical enough and you can never ever bet against Brentford.
"Having said that it's nice to come back and see some very good people at a very good club which is a very tough place to come, and leave with the points. We knew this would be a football match because Brentford are a very good side, and I thought we dealt with the threat of Jota, who likes to drift into the pockets, very well."