Brentford 1-0 Preston North End: Early Watkins strike keeps Bees in hunt for automatic promotion
Photo by Andy Kearns/CameraSport via Getty Images

Ollie Watkins' first half strike helped Brentford keep on track for automatic promotion from the Sky Bet Championship with a 1-0 win over Preston North End at Griffin Park.

Watkins struck on four minutes after some good play involving Emiliano Marcondes and Said Benrahma, to give the Bees an important three points in the race for promotion to the Premier League.

  • Brentford start the brighter

It was the hosts who started the brighter of the two sides and the took an early lead after just four minutes, Benrahma played the ball through to Marcondes, he flicked it through to Watkins, who raced into the area and send a volley past Declan Rudd to give Thomas Frank's side the lead.

The hosts went close again on 12 minutes, Watkins who is already on the scoresheet, collected a pass from Marcondes but his shot was blocked, at the other end, Tom Barkhuizen forced David Raya into a smart save.

Benrahma then went close for Brentford from around 30 yards but his effort didn't trouble Rudd in the visitors goal.

Marcondes then tried his luck from around 20 yards, however, his effort was blocked for a corner from which, Watkins fired over the bar.

  • Preston almost capitalise on a Bees mistake

There was a rare mistake in the Bees back-line when Ethan Pinnock's slip allowed Sean Maguire get in behind him, however, his defensive partner Pontus Jansson, managed to tied up.

Barkhuizen then manages to do really well for the visitors as he gives Henrik Dalsgaard, the runaround, before firing an effort wide of goal.

Raya then had to be on hand to deny Darnell Fisher's free-kick following a foul on Alan Browne, and the Bees keeper made a superb save.

Just before the break, Benrahma played a neat one-two with Watkins, he managed to dig out a shot on target, but Rudd makes a brilliant save.

  • Preston start brighter in the second period

It was Preston who began the brighter in the second half as Fisher went down inside the area, however, the penalty appeal was waved away and it was the correct call, the visitors full-back was backing into Rico Henry.

  • Brentford have their first chance after the break

Brentford's first chance, after the break, came when Bryan Mbeumo does well down the right to nut-meg Joe Rafferty, who could only push him to the ground and concede a cheap free-kick and a booking.

Almost a second for Brentford soon after, Benrahma played a defence-splitting pass to Watkins, whose effort goes inches over, before the Bees forward over-hit a cross looking for Mbeumo.

Watkins then played in Benrahma with a great pass from 25 yards, however, the Algerian sees his effort goes wide.

Preston went close again after a good pass from Barkhuizen found Ryan Ledson who stung the palms of Raya.

Benrahma went close again with 19 minutes remaining, but his effort went well wide of the target, before the Algerian fired wide after getting the better of Jordan Storey, however, his effort went wide.

  • Brentford look for a second

Watkins collects a pass from Marcondes inside the area, looks like he's about to score, but for some brilliant defending from Ledson, who made a timely intervention.

Preston went close to an equaliser, Jayden Stockley was crowded out by two defenders and then Raya comes and collects his header, at the other end, Benrahma fired narrowly over the bar.

Scott Sinclair then managed to get away from his marker but his shot goes over the bar as Alex Neil's men look for a point.

In second half stoppage time, Josh Dasilva fired a low effort, from just inside the area, but Rudd makes a save.

  • Teams

Brentford: Raya, Henry, Pinnock, Norgaard, Jensen (Dasilva 67), Benrahma, Watkins, Marcondes (Zamburek 88), Jansson, Mbeumo (Valencia 75), Dalsgaard.

Subs (not used): Daniels, Canos, Dervisoglu, Jeanvier, Fosu.

Preston: Rudd, Fisher (Stockley 74), Browne (Potts 74), Johnson, Storey, Rafferty, Hughes, Ledson (Harrop 84), Bauer, Maguire (Bodin 84), Barkhuizen (Sinclair 75).

Subs (not used): Hudson, Huntington, Gallagher, Nugent.