Championship
Brentford1Preston0

Brentford 1-0 Preston North End: Ollie Watkins hits winner as Bees close gap on Championship leaders

Brentford players celebrate
Ollie Watkins has now scored 25 goals in 44 Championship appearances this season

Brentford moved one point behind second-placed West Bromwich Albion in the Championship table after a narrow win over Preston North End at Griffin Park.

Ollie Watkins' early goal, his 25th of the season, proved enough to give the Bees their eighth straight victory and keep the pressure on the Baggies in the race for automatic promotion.

Home goalkeeper David Raya made a fine save to keep out a Darnell Fisher free-kick, while Said Benrahma shot narrowly wide for the west Londoners after the break.

Preston threatened in the second half but defeat all but ends their hopes of a place in the play-offs, with the Lilywhites five points off the top six with two games of the campaign remaining.

Bees resist North End challenge

Brentford's front three of Watkins, Benrahma and Bryan Mbeumo had scored 56 goals between them this season heading into the game - as many as the whole Preston squad had managed in the league.

Watkins opened the scoring in the fourth minute, to become the Championship's outright top scorer, latching onto a clever dinked through ball from Emiliano Marcondes and sending a first-time half-volley flashing past keeper Declan Rudd.

Raya raced off his line to foil an attempt from Tom Barkhuizen, and the Spanish keeper was at full stretch to palm away Fisher's side-footed free-kick from 25 yards out.

Benrahma almost made it 2-0 just before half-time with a powerful shot from inside the box, but Rudd saved.

The Bees defence stood firm as Preston came into the game in the second half and probed in search of an equaliser, with Watkins making a vital defensive clearance following a set-piece.

A run of one win in 10 games stretching back to February has seen North End slide down the table and out of contention for a place in the play-offs.

Bees keep up heat on West Brom

Brentford have won all seven games since the restart in June and their winning streak - their best-ever run in the second tier - began with a 5-0 demolition of Sheffield Wednesday on 7 March.

Thomas Frank's Bees beat West Brom in their second game back, and the Baggies know they have little margin for error following a goalless draw with Fulham on Tuesday.

Brentford are also three points behind Championship leaders Leeds, although the Whites have a game in hand against bottom club Barnsley on Thursday (17:00 BST).

Albion go to struggling Huddersfield Town on Friday, while, on Saturday, Brentford travel to a Stoke City side who are yet to secure their own survival.

The Bees have not played in the top flight since 1946-47 but even if they do miss out on a top-two finish they will prove a threat to any side in the play-offs, given their fine form since the resumption and the potency of their forward line.

Brentford head coach Thomas Frank: "Sometimes you forget to enjoy the moment and just move on to the next one.

"We have won eight on the bounce playing some top football and it is eight well-deserved wins.

"In a league which we call the most even league in the world, that is remarkable.

"We are in the play-offs, so why not give it a go for direct promotion? We are on a high but I am not thinking at all about the game after Saturday and seeing if we can win nine in a row."

Preston manager Alex Neil: "I don't think we played poorly. We're playing against a team which is fighting for promotion.

"The way we went about it I thought was very good. I've seen Brentford a lot and they rip teams apart.

"It's just frustrating because I thought we had some good performances tonight, and in the second half we penned them in for the first 20 minutes."

Line-ups

Brentford

  • 1Raya
  • 22Dalsgaard
  • 18Jansson
  • 5Pinnock
  • 3Henry
  • 17MarcondesSubstituted forZamburekat 88'minutes
  • 6Nørgaard
  • 8JensenSubstituted forDasilvaat 67'minutes
  • 19MbeumoSubstituted forValencia Castilloat 75'minutes
  • 11WatkinsBooked at 90mins
  • 10BenrahmaBooked at 63mins

Substitutes

  • 7Canós
  • 14Dasilva
  • 16Valencia Castillo
  • 21Dervisoglu
  • 23Jeanvier
  • 24Fosu-Henry
  • 28Daniels
  • 31Zamburek
  • 35Rasmussen

Preston

  • 1Rudd
  • 2FisherSubstituted forStockleyat 74'minutes
  • 14Storey
  • 21Bauer
  • 16Hughes
  • 18LedsonSubstituted forHarropat 84'minutes
  • 11Johnson
  • 15RaffertyBooked at 53mins
  • 8BrowneSubstituted forPottsat 74'minutes
  • 29BarkhuizenSubstituted forSinclairat 75'minutes
  • 24MaguireSubstituted forBodinat 84'minutes

Substitutes

  • 10Harrop
  • 12Gallagher
  • 20Stockley
  • 23Huntington
  • 28Hudson
  • 31Sinclair
  • 35Nugent
  • 39Bodin
  • 44Potts
Referee:
Darren England

Match Stats

Home TeamBrentfordAway TeamPreston
Possession
Home61%
Away39%
Shots
Home14
Away8
Shots on Target
Home3
Away4
Corners
Home4
Away6
Fouls
Home15
Away11

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Brentford 1, Preston North End 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Brentford 1, Preston North End 0.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Patrick Bauer (Preston North End) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Joseph Rafferty with a cross following a set piece situation.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Rico Henry (Brentford).

  5. Post update

    Jayden Stockley (Preston North End) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  6. Booking

    Ollie Watkins (Brentford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  7. Post update

    Ollie Watkins (Brentford).

  8. Post update

    Declan Rudd (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  9. Post update

    Attempt saved. Josh Dasilva (Brentford) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Saïd Benrahma.

  10. Post update

    Attempt saved. Josh Harrop (Preston North End) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Andrew Hughes with a headed pass.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Henrik Dalsgaard (Brentford).

  12. Post update

    Jayden Stockley (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Post update

    Offside, Preston North End. Patrick Bauer tries a through ball, but Jayden Stockley is caught offside.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Ethan Pinnock (Brentford).

  15. Post update

    Brad Potts (Preston North End) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Substitution

    Substitution, Brentford. Jan Zamburek replaces Emiliano Marcondes.

  17. Substitution

    Substitution, Preston North End. Billy Bodin replaces Sean Maguire.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Preston North End. Josh Harrop replaces Ryan Ledson.

  19. Post update

    Christian Nørgaard (Brentford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Brad Potts (Preston North End).

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Leeds43259969343584
2West Brom442216674413382
3Brentford442491179354481
4Fulham4422111158441477
5Nottm Forest4418161057451270
6Cardiff441716116257567
7Millwall441617115046465
8Swansea441616125752564
9Preston441711165653362
10Bristol City441711165963-462
11Derby441613155860-261
12Blackburn441612166057360
13Wigan441512175453157
14Reading441511185550556
15Sheff Wed441511185459-556
16QPR44159206171-1054
17Stoke44148225767-1050
18Middlesbrough441214184557-1250
19Birmingham441214185370-1750
20Huddersfield441212204965-1648
21Charlton441211214859-1147
22Hull44129235783-2645
23Luton44129235080-3045
24Barnsley431013204667-2143
View full Championship table

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