Brentford and Brighton shared the spoils in an enthralling Boxing Day clash which ended without a goal, the Bees’ first 0-0 draw in 60 games.
The Seagulls had keeper David Stockdale to thank for the point after two full-length saves near the finale of an end-to-end affair that was a credit to both sides.
He kept out Jake Bidwell’s flying header from an Alan Judge cross to the far post on 78 minutes and then repeated the feat five minutes later as the hosts went for the win.
Judge was the man thwarted this time, his neat turn and curling drive from the edge of the box finding the keeper’s fingertips.
But substitute Philipp Hofmann should have won it for the Bees late on when he headed straight at Stockdale when he had time to bring it down and pick his spot.
Brighton showed why they have drawn six of their last seven away games with a defensive display of gritty resolve, constantly looking to play on the break.
But it was the Londoners who looked the more likely to take the points despite a cat-and-mouse first half of few clear-cut chances.
Lasse Vibe fired over the bar seven minutes in and Ryan Woods saw a grasscutter fizz straight into the relieved keeper’s hands as both midfields restricted their opponents to long-range efforts.
John Swift sent a speculative effort just wide of the woodwork as both teams successfully mastered a swirling wind to turn in some superb passing football and any suggestion it would be the Bees’ first goalless draw at home in more than a year looked like a long shot.
The game opened up after the break and a goal looked more and more likely, Judge a constant threat in the Brentford midfield and Rajiv van La Parra tormenting Nico Yennaris down the left flank.
Brighton’s only real clear-cut chance came on 53 minutes when Tomer Hemed fed Jamie Murphy wide on the left but he skied his first time effort over the angle when he had more time.
Brighton survived a penalty shout on 67 minutes when Vibe was felled in the box by Dale Stephens, but the referee evened things up late in the second half when he waved away Albion protests after James Tarkowski tangled with Elvis Manu in the area.
Judge, playing wide on the right, cut inside midway through the half but his rasping angled drive was palmed to safety by Stockdale.
That was the beginning of a late surge of pressure from the Bees, but in the end both defences were too disciplined to allow any of the free-flowing football in the middle of the park to end in a goal.
Brentford boss Dean Smith insisted his disappointment at the Bees first goalless draw in 60 games against high-flying Brighton was a measure of just how well they are playing.
“I think it speaks volumes that we are not happy at dropping points at home, especially as I thought we were the better team.
“I thought we made them look average at times. We played with a good attitude, intensity and quality and but for the keeper it might have ended differently.”
Seagulls boss Chris Hughton paid tribute to his former club as he was forced to shuffle the pack before and during the game after losing James Wilson to illness and Gordon Greer with a tight hamstring.
“There are lots of exciting games at Brentford at the moment. They play a brand of football which revolves around a lot of sharp players good on the ball, and they will test any opposition,” he said.
“As a team we had to dig deep because Brentford are a good team. When we have needed David Stockdale he has been there and produced for us.”
Hughton admitted part of the philosophy prior to the trip to west London was to ensure his side did not lose for a second game in a row following their home reverse at the hands of Middlesbrough.
He said: “That was a part of the thinking, but we played two up front so we came here to win the game.
“Midway through we felt Brentford were getting too much possession in midfield but we got to grips with it in the second half and if anything we looked more threatening on the break.”
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