HUDDERSFIELD Town turned up the heat on their rivals at the top of League I with a slick display in sweltering West London.
Lee Clark’s side swept aside their hosts with a display which, in temperatures in the high twenties, bore testament to their fitness levels as well as footballing skills.
Recalled Jordan Rhodes notched twice while Lee Novak and Gary Roberts got the others as Town chalked up their biggest away win since Stockport were hit for six without reply in April 2010.
What made it all the more impressive was that Brentford started the day a point and two places above Town.
They finished it looking distinctly dejected as the travelling supporters gave their team a deserved standing ovation.
They had looked on in delight as any chance of a home comeback following Rhodes’ first-half opener was crushed by three goals in 10 glorious minutes – right in front of them.
As well as scoring four, Town hit the woodwork three times, and limited Brentford to just two efforts on goal.
Ian Bennett was equal to both, parrying Frenchman Toumani Diagouraga’s 72nd-minute shot, then saving Niall McGinn’s follow-up.
That set the tone for the team as a whole, because every member played a part in a win which was as pleasing as the recent 3-0 success at Sheffield United.
Captain Peter Clarke, relishing his return after seven games on the sidelines, first through injury then the form of others, led the way with a determined display, and twice came close to a breakthrough goal, heading just wide from Roberts’ 23rd-minute free-kick and against keeper Richard Lee’s right-hand upright from the wideman’s 28th-minute corner.
After a week of debate about whether Clarke or Liam Cooper would come in for suspended centre-back Jamie McCombe, both ended up on the field as Town were forced into a 13th-minute change when Calum Woods went off with a tight hamstring.
On-loan Hull man Cooper eased in at left-back pretty seamlessly, with his personal highlight a superbly-timed chance-saving tackle on Marcus Bean late in the first half.
By that stage, Town were a goal up after Rhodes rose to meet Tommy Miller’s pinpoint centre and nod in from the edge of the six-yard box in the 36th minute, the frontman having had a 29th-minute header tipped over.
Rhodes also stung Lee’s hands with a 43rd-minute shot after Roberts dispossessed Bean and played him in, and such was Town’s dominance that Brentford boss Uwe Rosler made two changes at half-time, Diagouraga and Myles Weston replacing Bean and Kevin O’Connor.
It made little difference because the Bees were never allowed to build up any momentum, with Damien Johnson playing a key role in breaking up potential home attacks at source.
Meanwhile his fellow central midfielder Miller was catching the eye with his distribution and after Rhodes rattled the bar after he combined with Roberts to set up the opportunity, the former Sheffield Wednesday man produced a peach of a pass in the 69th minute to free substitute and top scorer Lee Novak, who netted his eighth of the campaign with a clever lob.
Town had allowed a London side to come back from two down the week before, but any chance of Brentford doing a Leyton Orient was ended seven minutes later when Rhodes headed his second of the game and sixth of the season from Novak’s neat cross.
A hat-trick looked on the cards when Rhodes rattled in a low drive in the 78th minute, but the ball hit Lee’s left-hand post and bounced back into play – only for Roberts to shoot home from the rebound and seal a memorable win.
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