Reading’s last ever trip to Griffin Park was a tightly-contested affair, but ultimately a disappointing one come the final whistle as a single goal by Ollie Watkins was enough to win it for Brentford.
The Royals were a match for their opponent in every department throughout the 90 minutes, but the game-winning moment came on the hour through a well-taken Watkins header.
A fortnight had passed since the Royals’ last league outing against Luton Town – but the starting XI remained unchanged. The only alterations to the squad came on the bench, as Lucas Boyé and Chris Gunter returned to the side.
Two in-form sides began the game with intensity and tried to get their opposition defences on the back-foot. Andy Yiadom was a little over-zealous as he collided with Rico Henry in the air, earning the first yellow of the afternoon in the opening stages.
And while the Bees full-back was still receiving treatment after the knock, it was Yiadom who received in the channel from George Pușcaș and sent a dangerous delivery across David Raya’s box – no-one was quite able to get on the end of it.
The first Bees player in the referee’s notebook was defender Pontus Jansson – it was a cynical challenge by the defender to prevent Sam Baldock stealing a march on goal after possession had been turned over on half-way.
As the rain began to teem down, a couple of loose passes in turn gave Reading opportunities which they couldn’t quite take. John Swift intercepted high upfield but overhit his pass for Pușcaș when shooting was an option, and then Yiadom’s disguised pass fooled everyone, including his teammates ahead of the ball. Then in front of the Royals support, Bees dangerman skewed a shot wide after Matt Miazga had cut out a low cross from Ollie Watkins.
The Brentford attack, which had been kept quiet for the opening 20 minutes, began to find little combinations to test the Royals defence. An early ball from Benrahma sought out Watkins, who jinked into the penalty box but was apprehended just in time by skipper Liam Moore.
The home fans were baying for a second yellow for Yiadom after he upended Henry for a second time, but the referee just had a word with the full-back. And moments after, the Royals man spotted the run of Pușcaș and released him with a perfectly-weighted pass. Goalkeeper Raya came out on top in the one-on-one, staying big to prevent the shot and eventually collecting at the feet of the Romanian.
Conditions were unrelenting, which posed its own problems and with the wet ball. As a deflected effort came in from distance from Bryan Mbeumo, Royals goalie Rafael did the right thing by parrying around his post.
Sam Baldock had been full of running; when he attempted to drive inside Jansson, the Bees captain did manage to stab back to the goalkeeper – his clearance was rushed with Pușcaș nearby, but Yiadom was wide as he hastened to take an early shot.
Half-time: Brentford 0-0 Reading
The Royals were shooting towards the sold-out away end in the second half, who had been in fine voice since long before kick-off. And five minutes after the break, Yakou Méïté was introduced to provide a different type of threat up top.
Ovie Ejaria showed characteristically magic footwork to swivel around a challenge on the left and ghost around a defender - his hanging cross from the byline was a touch high for Pușcaș and then Miazga's angles were cut off. The pressure lifted the crowd, and Brentford responded - soon they were flooding forward and Reading were lucky to see Watkins swing-and-miss as the ball came in from the left.
But just after the hour, Watkins got the breakthrough. Mathias Jensen found space to the left of the area and picked out the head of the Bees forward, who steered beyond the dive of Rafael. The Royals trailed; a harsh reflection on how Reading had performed.
Five minutes later, a stunning stop by Rafael to keep the deficit to one. A simple drop of the shoulder by Dasilva on the right was enough to buy room to drive to the byline and cross low; Watkins was denied by the Brazilian from point-blank range.
Garath McCleary and Boyé were both introduced - they combined nicely as Boyé flashed a firm pass wide for McCleary, who laid back for Yiadom in turn, only to drill narrowly wide.
The Bees were beginning to seek opportunities to run the clock down, but Mr Coote was wise to it. Dasilva was booked for time-wasting over a Bees free-kick, and Jensen had his name taken for kicking the ball away after Ejaria was fouled.
As Reading committed bodies forward, the hosts sought opportunities on the break. When Watkins spun past Michael Morrison, Omar Richards did brilliantly to snuff out Mbeumo's shot as he looked to bear down on the goalkeeper.
Reading's heart and effort continued throughout the five added minutes, but without reward as Brentford survived a late bit of pinball in their box to hold on to the points.
Full-time: Brentford 1-0 Reading
Brentford: Raya, Henry, Pinnock, Jensen, Benrahma (Zamburek 80), Watkins, Mokotjo, Dasilva (Oksanen 90+1), Jansson (c), Mbeumo, Dalsgaard.
Unused subs: Daniels, Thompson, Sorensen, Racic, Roerslav.
Goal: Watkins (61).
Yellow: Jansson, Dasilva, Jensen.
Reading: Rafael, Yiadom, Richards, Miazga, Moore (c), Morrison, Rinomhota (Boyé 70), Swift, Ejaria, Pușcaș (McCleary 58), Baldock (Méïté 49).
Unused subs: Walker, Gunter, Blackett, Pelé.
Yellow: Yiadom, Swift, Méïté.
Referee: Mr D Coote