Scottish Premiership Preview: Aberdeen v Rangers

After the excitement of the Old Firm, another of Scottish football’s bitter feuds is back as the two rivals hoping to compete for Celtic’s crown meet at Pittodrie for the first time in five years.

aberdeen-v-rangers-21st-sept-2016
Best of enemies: Aberdeen and Rangers have revelled in some unsavoury confrontations in the past but this season’s encounters may prove to be more friendly affairs (Pictures BBC/Sky Sports)

ONE of Scottish football’s most intense feuds resumes this weekend after being put on hold for four years.  

Regarded by many as the next best thing to the Old Firm, Aberdeen against Rangers has often been a fiery fixture, which embodied the competitive edge to the former Scottish Premier League era.

With the Dons rediscovering their form in last week’s classy come-from-behind win at Dundee, Derek McInnes’s side will be primed to take on a beleaguered Gers side who have endured a difficult start to their long-awaited Premiership return.

A tough fortnight on the pitch, which saw the Glasgow side unravel at Celtic Park before failing to find a way past Ross County, has deepened off it with the implosion of the banned Joey Barton creating an unnecessary distraction.

The outspoken Englishman’s latest outburst seemed to have proved detrimental to both his career and Rangers’ season, but the experienced midfield man – now the subject of a betting investigation – has vowed to fight back.

The fiasco could not be more welcome or ideal, during a period in which the Gers have only won one of their last four games – and, even more worryingly, look disjointed and defensively frail.

But their regular League Cup keeper Matt Gilks, a former team-mate of Barton’s at Burnley, took to the media to insist it hasn’t unsettled the squad or affected their match preparations.

After breezing past Queen of the South with their best display of the season to set up an Old Firm clash in the Betfred Cup semis, under-fire boss Mark Warburton will hope a sense of normality has been restored ahead of Sunday’s testing trip to Pittodrie – an experience former Gers captain Barry Ferguson admitted he didn’t enjoy during his playing career.

Although their last meeting produced a tepid 1-1 draw at Ibrox in January 2012, there is a certain nastiness to this particular rivalry, which is steeped in tradition as well as controversy.

This was emphasised in a typically bruising encounter in October 2011, the last time the men from Govan made the trip to the north-east, when Kyle Lafferty’s clinical finish and a Nikica Jelavic penalty helped the Gers to a 2-1 victory, putting them in firm control in the title race.

rangers-fans-leave-celtic-park-early-old-firm-derby-10th-sept-2016
On the road: Rangers fans have seen their side win only one of their three away league games so far this season – a 2-1 victory at Dundee last month (Picture from Sky Sports)

But neither have fully established themselves as pacesetters having opened the campaign in stuttering fashion, punctuated by glimpses of brilliance and moments of madness in equal measure.

Heading into the seventh round of matches, both sides are adjacent in the table with almost identical records – fourth and fifth respectively, with two wins, three draws and a defeat from six league games.

Aberdeen had a more difficult route than Rangers into the League Cup’s last four, as recently as Thursday night, with Adam Rooney’s 90th minute header the difference against a stubborn St Johnstone.

pittodrie-pre-match-aberdeen-v-hearts-12th-dec-2015
Mixed: Although Aberdeen are unbeaten at home in seven games in all competitions this term, the Dons have won only one of their three league games at Pittodrie so far (Picture from Sky Sports)

It extended the Dons’ steady but unspectacular opening to the campaign but – like the Gers – their only domestic defeat thus far has come at Celtic Park, with Aberdeen on the end of a similar resounding loss at the end of August.

The Scottish Premiership’s marquee clash of the weekend is expected to be played in front of a sell-out Pittodrie crowd as well as the Sky cameras for what should be a Sunday lunchtime to savour (KO 13:00 BST).

And both the Dons and the Gers will be desperately hoping for the win which would provide a psychological boost to their faltering bids in challenging champions Celtic.

While, from the neutral point of view, it has all the ingredients of a classic.


POSSIBLE LINE-UPS:

Aberdeen

aberdeen-xi

Rangers

rangers-xi


TEAM NEWS:

lee-wallace-before-ko-v-alloa-23rd-april-2016
Ready to return: The 29-year-old, Rangers’ longest serving player having joined in 2011, is expected to slot back in after missing the midweek League Cup tie (Picture from Sky Sports)

Aberdeen skipper Ryan Jack will be sidelined once again as he continues to recuperate from knee surgery.

Winger Jonny Hayes missed Thursday’s League Cup tie against St Johnstone after sustaining a hamstring injury in the warm-up but the Irishman expects to be fit to face the Gers.

Rangers captain Lee Wallace should return at left-back after being rested for Tuesday’s League Cup tie against Queen of the South.

Andy Halliday, who described taking over the armband in midweek as “one of the proudest moments of my career”, is set to continue in midfield with Barton – the man he had a training ground row with last week – suspended by the club for three weeks.

Kenny Miller will be included in the squad, despite being arrested in connection with an alleged disturbance at a restaurant, but Jordan Rossiter remains unavailable with a calf strain.

Matt Gilks was in goal against the Doonhamers in midweek but is set to return to the bench, with Wes Foderingham likely to come back in.


MATCH OFFICIALS:

John Beaton referee (Hibernian v Rangers - 1st November 2015)
Top-flight: Former press officer and Euro 2016 additional assistant referee Beaton will take charge of his fourth Premiership game of the season (Picture from Sky Sports)

Referee: John Beaton
Assistants referees: Dougie Potter and Andrew McWilliam
Fourth official: Don Robertson

Fifa official Beaton, 34, has already had some eventful games and controversial moments so far this season – giving 11 yellow cards and a penalty for a dive, three penalties in 45 minutes, booking two players for diving in the same game and sending a manager to the stands for sarcastically applauding a decision.

But the Lanarkshire whistler will be hoping for a quieter afternoon in arguably his biggest match of the campaign so far – and his first between Aberdeen and Rangers.

You can read more about Beaton’s appointment here.


MEMORABLE MEETING:

Aberdeen 2 (Vernon 10′, Maguire 30′, 87′ sent off)
Rangers 3 (Miller 34′ pen, 52′, Jelavic 67′)
September 2010, SPL, Pittodrie

It was another early-season showdown at Pittodrie which produced one of the most thrilling games between these bitter rivals in recent times.

Reigning champions Rangers looked on course to suffer their first defeat of the season when Scott Vernon and Chris Maguire fired the Dons into a 2-0 lead inside half-an-hour.

But Kenny Miller, currently in his third spell with the Ibrox club, continued his excellent form at the start of the campaign by first converting a controversially awarded penalty before blasting home his second to level the scores.

Nikica Jelavic notched the winner midway through the second half and Aberdeen’s Maguire saw red late on as the Gers moved above Celtic at the top of the SPL on goal difference, with both sides winning their first six league games.

You can read more about the match here.


HEAD TO HEAD:

Despite the lack of meetings in recent years, Rangers have found life difficult in the Granite City over the last decade.

However, the Gers have won on their last three visits to Pittodrie, but have had to overcome obstacles along the way and come from behind in games.

Aberdeen haven’t beaten Rangers since a 1-0 success at home in November 2009 – surviving the dismissal of captain Mark Kerr to earn three deserved points in the SPL through Lee Miller’s early goal.

But in the subsequent seven meetings, it’s been tight every time but the Gers have won on six occasions – albeit only by a one or two-goal margin.

Indeed, other than SPL games, the sides haven’t crossed paths in a cup competition since September 2004 when Rangers won 2-0 away from home in the League Cup.


BETTING ODDS:

There have been so many keenly fought encounters between the sides in times gone by – and the bookmakers expect this one to be no different.

It’s a difficult one to call and the odds make it no easier to make up your mind if you fancy a flutter.

Aberdeen are favoured to win at 13/8 by SkyBet, sportingbet, Coral and betfair, while betway, BetBright, Marathon Bet and BoyleSports prefer Rangers to take three points at 8/5.

Perhaps the safest option is backing a draw – which is currently 12/5 with SkyBet, BoyleSports, BetVictor, Coral, Marathon Bet and 188Bet.

You can view a full list of winning odds here.


WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY:

derek-mcinnes-and-mark-warburton-aberdeen-v-rangers
New battle: As was the case in the Old Firm derby, the two managers will come face-to-face in the dugout for the first time (Pictures BT/Sky Sports)

Rangers boss Mark Warburton has been criticised by many in recent weeks amid the latest turmoil to filter through Ibrox and the club’s inability to hit the ground running on their top-flight return.

Some have even called for his removal, with pundit Chris Sutton claiming Warburton is “arrogant” and has two games to save his job.

But the defiant former Brentford boss has shook off the haters and, after a shambolic display against fellow fierce rivals Celtic earlier this month, insists his players are ready for the challenge they face against the Dons.

He said: “They want to play in these type of games. It will be a 20,000 sell-out and an intimidating atmosphere and they will enjoy that. It has been five years since we have been up there. The fans are looking forward to it and so are the players.

“We are looking forward to the trip north. After what happened at Parkhead hard work is the only way of getting better.”

Opposite number Derek McInnes has questioned why his side have been given two days less to prepare for the game but insists the Dons will be at full strength and ready for Rangers.

Speaking after his team booked a League Cup semi spot against Morton, McInnes said: “We need a big effort from everyone for Sunday. It’s ridiculous that Rangers have 48 hours of extra recovery before a league game when there doesn’t need to be.

“Why our game was moved to the Thursday, I don’t get. But it is what it is – and we’ll be ready for them come Sunday.

“It will be a full house here, everyone wants to be involved in it. I think it’s a significant fixture on the calendar, Aberdeen against Rangers.

“It probably gets everyone fired up. They’re a good side, they had an impressive performance the other night.

“Rangers have got too much quality, having invested heavily in a squad that already looked good in the Championship, to consider them anything but a tough nut to crack. But we’re in good form. And tonight’s result helps.

“I don’t know about us being favourites. I can’t go and spend £2 million or £3 million and pay the wages they do. But we always feel we can win, especially at Pittodrie. Sunday is no different.”


More to get you in the mood…

Celtic v Rangers: Ten things to look out for in the Old Firm derby

With the first Old Firm derby in the Scottish top-flight in four and a half years on the horizon, here’s 10 things to cast an eye over at Celtic Park.

Celtic v Rangers Old Firm derby (September 2016)
History: The two most successful teams in Scotland, who first locked horns in 1888, will meet for the 402nd time this weekend (Picture from Sky Sports)

After an international break in which Scotland proved their mettle in Malta, the Scottish Premiership returns with the biggest of bangs. 

Two cup ties in the last two seasons have given a small taste of what to expect but the first league meeting of Celtic and Rangers in four and a half years is sure to provide a more mouth-watering encounter to savour for a Saturday lunchtime.

Although the worldwide audience may be slightly diminished with the Manchester derby scheduled at the same time, the opening Old Firm derby of the campaign is the showdown everyone has been waiting for.

Rangers, back on the top-flight scene after working their way up the ladder in the face of adversity, are still yet to convince they can challenge their rivals from across Glasgow, who will look to maintain their 100 per cent league record ahead of a daunting trip to the Nou Camp to start their Champions League group stage campaign.

You can be forgiven for not knowing what to expect – other than the unexpected – so here are 10 things to keep a close eye on at Celtic Park…


1)  Barton and Brown midfield match-up

Joey Barton and Scott Brown
The best of enemies: Barton, 34, (left) has been stoking up the fires with Brown, 31, as the pair prepare to do battle on the pitch for the first time (Picture from Sky Sports)

Ever since the transfer of the summer in Scottish football arose, the mind games and banter has been flying around and the Twitter talk about how the combustible duo would conduct themselves on the same field has barely stopped.

Thankfully, there hasn’t been a long wait to find out – and Barton’s arrival at Ibrox has only added further spice to what was always going to be a titanic tussle.

If you believe everything you read and what’s been said, Barton is a Celtic fan (as well as a world beater), Brown is not ‘in the same league’ as him and Aberdeen are Celtic’s biggest title challengers. But now, the time has almost come for the football to do the talking.

Brown, who has retired from Scotland duty in a bid to extend his Celtic career, has masses of Old Firm experience and used to like pushing El Hadji Diouf’s buttons – now he has another egotistical Rangers hothead to wind up.

Barton has played in high-profile battles south of the border but nothing on this scale and, after a slow start to his Rangers career, will be desperate to make a positive impact on the grandest of stages. Something he is more than capable of doing.

With two of the country’s biggest personalities going head to head, there is only room for one ego on the same field and don’t be surprised if one – or indeed both – lose their cool and don’t last the full 90 minutes.


2)  Shaky defending from both sides 

Rangers v Celtic defenders (Sept 2016)
Susceptible: Although there have only been 66 goals in the last 35 Old Firm derbies but (left to right) James Tavernier, Rob Kiernan, Efe Ambrose and Dedryck Boyata are all prone to individual errors (Picture from Sky Sports)

Despite the teams’ undoubtedly quality which makes them stand out as Scotland’s best, neither are renowned for their defensive stability.

Both have experimented with a back-three and a mixture of youth and experience in recent times but are yet to find the right solution to suit their personnel.

Although Eoghan O’Connell, 21, has shown a high level of maturity in the season’s early weeks, Celtic’s problems stem from constant changes to their centre-back pairing and their ability to make costly individual errors – Efe Ambrose being the prime candidate.

Whereas, Rangers have more experience of Scottish football in their ranks – Danny Wilson and Lee Wallace having played in several Old Firm meetings.

But rustiness is still evident, with Clint Hill admitting he still needs to get up and running and Wallace pulling out of Scotland duty with an injury complaint, while James Tavernier can often be too cavalier going forward, leaving acres of space waiting to be exploited.

With the stakes as high as they can reach and no margin for error, it will be interesting to see how messrs Warburton and Rodgers line up at the back and whether they will risk a more youthful look to the defence.

Neither have kept a clean sheet in the league so far this term and you would have to be extremely brave to bet on that statistic changing in this game of all games.


3)  Drama upon drama

Celtic v Rangers feud April 2011
Worth the wait: It will be the first league meeting since Celtic’s 3-0 win over Rangers at Parkhead in April 2012 (Picture from Sky Sports)

It would be no exaggeration to suggest a full-blooded Old Firm – complete with the usual cliffhangers that leave you wanting more – could rival an hour-long episode of Eastenders for explosive drama and unmissable viewing.

With sub-plots happening all over the pitch and every kick of the ball being keenly fought for, you can barely take your eyes off the action, of which there is a whole lot more than your average game.

Even a tepid battle between the sides – and there have been some in the past – contains its fair share of excitement and intensity to maintain your attention but rarely does it disappoint as far as entertainment value is concerned.

Assuming both sides finish in the top six (which is almost guaranteed), there will be four Old Firm encounters in the league this season and, should they all live up to the billing, Scottish football as a whole would be the biggest winners.


4)  Passion on the terraces

Celtic and Rangers fans
Loud and proud: Fans of Celtic and Rangers, who are separated by a mere six miles, will generate an electric atmosphere at Celtic Park (Picture from Sky Sports)

When the fixtures were released in June, this was the one that everyone with Celtic and Rangers connections across the globe will have looked for before any other.

Ever since, the anticipation has been building – on derby day in Glasgow, emotions extend far deeper than the confines of the pitch.

An Old Firm occasion means so much to so many, regardless of the prize on offer, and the raw passion from a full house of 60,000 fans at Celtic Park will undoubtedly reverberate across the city on Saturday afternoon.

No matter what stage of the game or how well their team is doing, both sets of supporters will act as the proverbial twelfth man and could make the difference to ease the tension on the players and edge their side over the finishing line.


5)  Touchline antics

Mark Warburton on sidelines (v Hibernian - 1st November 2015)
Optimistic: The 53-year-old, the first Englishman to be Rangers manager, is in confident mood as he prepares for his trip to Celtic Park (Picture from Sky Sports)

Mark Warburton and Brendan Rodgers may have worked together on the coaching staff at Watford nine years ago, however Saturday represents the first time the two talented managers will come up against each other.

The pair – who were huge hits north of the border with Liverpool and Brentford respectively – have never been known for allowing feelings to overflow in the technical area and largely adopt a composed presence when issuing instructions to players.

If the game is played in good spirits, it might prove to be a quiet afternoon for the fourth official.

But, in the highly-charged derby environment when discipline and temperament can often fly out of the window faster than a tackle can fly in, anything goes and if decisions aren’t going their way they will be quick to make their dissatisfaction seen and heard.

Warburton has already sampled the atmosphere that comes with an Old Firm clash, albeit in different surroundings at the national stadium, hiherto it will be unchartered territory for Rodgers, who will know by the end of the afternoon just what all the fuss is about.


6)  Attacking firepower coming to the fore

Rangers v Celtic attacking options (Sept 2016)
Fearsome four: Rangers duo Miller and Waghorn and Celtic’s Griffiths and Forrest are likely to be the key attacking weapons which decide the game (Picture from Sky Sports)

The big games always bring the best out of the big names and there will be plenty on show who will be looking to make an impact in the biggest match in the Scottish Premiership so far this season.

On Celtic’s side, Leigh Griffiths – who sweeped the player of the year awards with 40 goals last season – will be fresh from having the international break off, while James Forrest and Scott Sinclair have the creative potential to be the match-winner.

Regardless of who forms the attacking triumvirate behind Griffiths, it will contain enough quality to cause Rangers all sorts of problems.

One man who will be on a mission to take down the Hoops will be Kenny Miller, who has a habit of popping up with vital contributions as he did on the last derby day and will be full of condence after bagging four against Linfield. With Martyn Waghorn getting back to his best and Barrie McKay in top form, Rangers possess the tools to give Celtic a tough time.

There are options aplenty for both managers to choose from and, in a high-profile game when attack is likely to be the best form of defence, they should opt to overload their offensive choices which will make for a more open and expansive match and play to the strengths of both sides.


7)  Officials feeling the pressure

old-firm-derby-officials-10th-september-2016
The third team: Collum, 37, who went to Euro 2016, will be assisted at Celtic Park by Douglas Ross, Frank Connor and fourth official Kevin Clancy (Pictures from Sky Sports)

Keeping control of an Old Firm derby can be as difficult a job for match officials as both sets of players care to make it.

Even before a ball is kicked, the referee has already adorned the status of ‘public enemy number one’ and Willie Collum, who has often come under fire for controversial calls, can expect nothing less than a tough afternoon.

He may have two Glasgow derbies under his belt, albeit in 2010 and 2011, but those experiences will count for very little once he sounds the first whistle.

As much as players are under pressure to perform, referees’ careers are also on the line in the biggest of fixtures and there is no margin for error.

Collum has kept a low profile in recent times after a flurry of high-profile errors earlier in the year but is notoriously card-happy, so the approach he adopts on Saturday will be interesting to observe.

As ever, concentration and position will be key  – with an added need to stay focused amid a cauldron of noise inside a Parkhead packed with passionate patrons. If he survives the 90 minutes and isn’t being spoken about afterwards, that can be considered an achievement.


8)  Revenge on Celtic minds

It may have hammered the final nail in Ronny Deila’s coffin to end his turgid two-year tenure but the Hoops will still be reeling, and hurting, from the Hampden horror of seeing their Glasgow adversaries progress to the Scottish Cup final at their expense in April – even though Hibernian went on to lift the trophy.

In contrast to Rangers’ stuttering form on their top-flight return, Rodgers’ men have made an assured start to their quest for a sixth successive league title and brushed aside their nearest challengers in the last two seasons, Aberdeen, with relative ease before the international break.

But the biggest opportunity to lay down an early-season marker in the title race comes this weekend – and Celtic will be desperate to send Rangers packing with a firm reminder of their status as the country’s force.

Only then could memories of Tom Rogic’s wild spotkick, which sparked even wilder Gers celebrations in front of their eyes at the national stadium, be truly laid to rest.


9)  Fast and furious…even before the word ‘go’

Celtic v Rangers challenge April 2012
Tumultuous: The home side have won the last four league meetings, on the back of a fast start to proceedings (Picture from Sky Sports)

The unrelenting tempo and frenetic nature made the Old Firm derbies of old a joy to watch from both a fans and neutral perspective.

Those occasions were simply unmissable and had a tendency to start at 100 miles per hour before speeding up somewhat.

Although the League Cup semi clash of 2015 lacked any real punch, last season’s Scottish Cup thriller delivered the typical blood and thunder encounter which ushered in a new era renewing the oldest of fierce rivalries.

The first league meeting in over four years has been a long time coming and – despite the prize only being three league points at this stage of the season, as opposed to a place in a domestic cup final – the competitive edge will be evident even before the first whistle has been blown.


10)  Derby debutants looking to impress

scott-sinclair-comes-on-for-celtic-debut-v-hearts-6th-aug-2016
Impact: Winger Scott Sinclair, 27, has made a positive impression for Celtic with four goals in six appearances in all competitions so far (Picture from Sky Sports)

A new league usually brings a raft of new signings and it’s been no different for Rangers, with 12 new faces winging their way through the Ibrox doors this summer.

It’s been a bit quieter on the Celtic front with six players drafted in as Rodgers looked south of the border to integrate fringe players from English clubs whilst opting for quality over quantity.

Of all the recruits from both sides of the divide, none have experienced this unique occasion before, which may count against some of them in the cauldron of Celtic Park.

Lively striker Joe Garner and former Arsenal centre-back Philippe Senderos are likely to receive their first Rangers starts after run-outs in last weekend’s friendly thrashing of Linfield, with the latter bringing a wealth of international nous to the Gers backline.

For Celtic, Cristian Gamboa could be thrown in at the deep end following his deadline day arrival from West Bromwich Albion but that prospect is one the Costa Rica right-back is already relishing.

Many of the summer buys have already had a settling-in period but still have a point to prove – and Saturday lunchtime at Parkhead is no better time to do it. If they can perform to a high level in their Old Firm initiations, it would certainly bode well for the mammoth season ahead.

Burnley stun Brentford to continue Championship charge

Three stunning first-half goals gave Burnley a deserved victory at Griffin Park as Brentford were condemned to a fourth successive defeat in all competitions.

  •  Burnley two points behind automatic promotion places
  •  Brentford stay 11th after fourth straight defeat in all competitions
  •  Arfield, Barton and Boyd goals put Clarets in command before Judge reply 
  •  Andre Gray subdued in first appearance against former club
  •  Brentford’s James Tarkowski refuses to play amid Burnley transfer speculation
Tunnel
Recent run: Burnley are now unbeaten in the last six encounters with Brentford, winning four and drawing two (Picture from Sky Sports)

THREE stunning first-half goals ensured Burnley held off Brentford’s revival to close the gap on the SkyBet Championship’s automatic promotion places to two points. 

The Clarets had clear daylight through a Scott Arfield curler, Joey Barton’s free-kick and George Boyd’s half-volley after a rampant performance in the opening 45 minutes, described by boss Sean Dyche as “arguably the best since I’ve been here”.

Brentford’s top scorer Alan Judge – who could be at Turf Moor by the end of the month – fired home to give the Bees hope of a fightback but it wasn’t forthcoming despite an improved second-half display.

The build-up was dominated by James Tarkowski’s refusal to play for Brentford, who have opened up internal disciplinary proceedings, amid transfer interest from opponents Burnley.

A third away win of the week moved Dyche’s men to within a point of third-placed Derby County, who host Birmingham on Saturday, and two points of the top two.

Dean Smith was pleased with his side’s reaction but the disappointing start proved costly as the Bees fell to a fourth successive defeat in all competitions.

Andre Gray returned to Griffin Park for the first time since leaving in August for £9 million but Burnley’s 14-goal striker missed several first-half chances as he failed to get on the scoresheet and was withdrawn after 65 minutes.

Boss Dyche was subjected to taunts from Brentford fans behind the dugout over his pursuit of Tarkowski, whose absence left a gaping hole in the Bees defence which was clinically exploited by the Clarets from the outset.

Sean Dyche on sidelines
Goal-getters: Dyche’s team are now the division’s joint-leading scorers with 42 goals alongside Fulham (Picture from Sky Sports)

The visitors’ composed start was rewarded in the 12th minute when Arfield curled his fifth goal of the season into the top corner with sublime precision from Gray’s lay-off.

It took until the half-hour mark for their superiority to be confirmed as Barton – from a one-step run-up – nonchalantly clipped a 25-yard free-kick past David Button for his second goal in as many games.

Nine minutes later, Boyd latched on to a loose Jack O’Connell clearance to send a sweet volley nestling into the bottom corner for his third league goal of the campaign.

Lacking in inspiration, a hapless Brentford managed a solitary shot in the first period as Burnley outclassed their West London opponents, with what was described by former Bees boss Uwe Rosler as “a complete away performance”.

Smith evidently rallied his troops at the interval and a double change – Sam Saunders and Lasse Vibe on for Sergi Canos and Marco Djuricin – brought immediate dividends as they sought to limit the damage.

Dean Smith
Record: The former Walsall boss has won three of his 10 matches in charge since replacing Lee Carsley at the end of November (Picture from Sky Sports)

With the hosts a different proposition, Judge drilled home his 11th goal of the season after skilfully gliding away from Matthew Lowton on 57 minutes.

The winger almost caught out Tom Heaton again at his near-post with a clever free-kick and Maxine Colin rifled into the side netting for the re-energised Bees, whose second-half showing matched their efforts in the midweek defeat by leaders Middlesbrough.

But despite showing greater fighting spirit and urgency in the second half, it was too little too late for a Brentford side who remain eight points adrift of the play-offs in 11th place.

Stout defending saw Burnley through after a convincing first-half display which took their tally to 16 goals in their last four league outings, of which they have won three.

FT match facts
Final stats: Brentford had more possession but Burnley had more attempts on target – three of which ended up in the back of the net (Picture from Sky Sports)

 

TEAMS:

Brentford XI
Three alterations: Smith drafted in Jack O’Connell, Sergi Canos and Marco Djuricin for James Tarkowski, Sam Saunders and Lasse Vibe (Picture from Sky Sports)

Substitutes:  Saunders (on for Canos 45′), Vibe (on for Djuricin 45′) and Yennaris (on for Swift 67′).

Not used:  Bonham (GK), McEachran, Hoffman, Barbet.

Booked:  None

Goals:  Judge (57′)

 

Burnley XI
One change: George Boyd replaced Michael Kightly on the right hand side from Tuesday’s 5-0 demolition of MK Dons (Picture from Sky Sports)

Substitutes:  Hennings (on for Gray 65′)

Not used:  Nizic (GK), Duff, Darikwa, Marney, Kightly, Taylor.

Booked:  None

Goals:  Arfield (12′), Barton (30′), Boyd (39′)

 

Chris Kavanagh awards corner
Unassuming: Kavanagh – in charge of his 12th Championship game of the season – issued no cards and had no big decisions to make as he strolled through the action at Griffin Park (Picture from Sky Sports)

Referee:  Chris Kavanagh (Manchester) – 9/10
Attendance:  10,039