Carlisle United came away from Griffin Park with a thoroughly deserved share of the spoils as they went toe-to-toe with fancied Brentford to stem the flow of goals against with their first clean sheet of what has been a difficult month.
“We came here with a game plan and I thought the lads were magnificent,” manager Greg Abbott said. “The fans have seen that their players really do care and they stayed behind to clap them off the pitch and to show their appreciation for the way they played. The biggest thing for me from this game was the fact that we didn’t concede. That has been a huge problem and it’s one we had to sort out. Hopefully this is the start of that.”
Brentford went long as they went up against a blue wall at the start of the game and new signing Troy Archibald-Henville settled into a pattern quickly as he got his head to everything that approached the edge of the box.
But he was caught on his heels on 14 minutes when he got the wrong side of El Alagui just outside the box. Logan whipped the resulting free kick into the box and half clearances from Potts and Amoo invited Forshaw to shoot. His attempt at an eye-catching scissor kick ended in disaster as the ball screwed harmlessly away.
Carlisle picked their moments to get forward as they concentrated on shape and a neat pass from Potts put Amoo on the overlap. His cross had Miller scampering forward but Craig threw himself at it to make the block.
Brentford kept throwing the ball and men forward and strong work from McCormack took him into a crossing position when it looked like the ball was dead. His cross looked perfect for Saunders but El Alagui stretched for it and the opening was gone.
The United bench held their breath moments later when Paul Black pointed to his groin and their worst fears were confirmed as a signal from the physio brought Gillies into the fray. Matt Robson moved back to cover the left back position as United looked to regroup and go again.
Another long ball forward for the Bees put Donaldson on the by-line and he held play up as he waited for support. Scott Barron arrived at pace and his blistering drive from a tight angle brought an excellent save from the full stretch Mark Gillespie.
Sam Saunders went close when he poked a deep free kick wide and he turned provider with the last attack of the half when he spun Potts tight by the left hand touchline. Clayton Donaldson met the early cross and he was disappointed to see his firm header bounce away from the target.
United escaped an early scare just after the restart when Logan teased a short corner routine into the box. Donaldson helped it on but a combination of Archibald-Henville and Livesey allowed Gillespie to grab it as it pinged around uncomfortably on the six-yard line.
There was more urgency from the home side and it needed bravery from Potts to block a stinging Barron shot when a Logan cross made its way to the far post. A moment of hesitation was enough to allow the right back to make the block.
Substitute Will Grigg then placed a weak header over the bar when he should have done better and he was almost made to pay for the miss when Carlisle broke from deep. Miller was bumped to the floor and Matt Robson set himself for the 38-yard free kick. He crunched it low and David Button had to dive acrobatically to tip a deflection over the bar from the onrushing James Berrett.
Centre back Danny Livesey twice intervened to stop Grigg as the livewire striker started to want more of the ball and Archibald-Henville stepped in to stop Saville when a shot on target was next on the agenda.
The Bees were reduced to ten men when David Amoo pounced to nick a loose ball in midfield. Last man Tony Craig chopped his legs from beneath him as he approached the edge of the area and referee Dave Phillips went straight for his red card.
The visitors erred on the side of caution despite their numerical advantage and that allowed Brentford to get forward in front of a very vocal home crowd. And it looked like they’d scored when a swirling corner kick was allowed to bounce in the box. Diagouraga stabbed it over the line but the whistle had already gone for a push on Lee Miller.
Defender Danny Livesey was next up with the heroics when he threw himself right in front of a piledriver from the lively Diagouraga and it was a vital block as the ball angled towards the bottom corner.
Brentford kept pushing but their possession lacked bite and Carlisle almost nicked it with the last attack of the day when Berrett sent a free kick into the box. Potts bustled his way onto it but he was disappointed to see his header fly over the bar.
Brentford - Saville (30), Dean (80), McCormack (83)
United - Miller (18), Thirlwell (22), Amoo (40), Livesey (70), Archibald-Henville (72)
Sent off - Craig (63 - straight red card)
Brentford - Button, Barron, Forshaw, Craig, Dean, Saunders (Reeves 66), Donaldson, El Alagui (Grigg 46), McCormack, Logan, Saville (Diagouraga 75). Subs - Bonham, O'Connor, Dallas, Fillo.
Carlisle United - Gillespie, Potts, Livesey, Archibald-Henville, Black (Gillies 33), Amoo, Noble (Guy 73), Berrett, Thirlwell, Miller (Beck 87), Robson. Subs - Feely, Symington, Fleming, Lynch.
Referee - Mr David Phillips
Attendance - 6,035 (325 away fans)