Relegation-threatened Crawley Town’s worst run of results since entering the Football League continued with a sixth straight League One defeat away at high-flying Brentford.
Reds goalkeeper Paul Jones made another costly mistake, allowing a Jonathan Douglas header to slip through his hands and into the net in the second half as the hosts’ pressure finally told.
Though that was to prove the game’s only goal the promotion-chasing Bees were well worth their win in a one-sided affair which saw them move within three points of the top.
Reds meanwhile remain just three points above the relegation places, albeit with games in hand on all those below them, and will need a drastic upturn in form in their final seven matches to stay clear of danger, starting away at MK Dons on Saturday.
John Gregory made three changes from Saturday’s home defeat to Crewe. Back came Matt Tubbs after missing three games (hamstring), while Dannie Bulman and Paul Connolly also started. Rory Fallon, Sergio Torres and Mark Connolly dropped to the bench. Andy Drury was still missing with illness.
The Bees began the game with the confidence of a side who have won 15 of their last 16 games at home and their top scorer Clayton Donaldson carved out three half chances inside the opening 20 minutes.
First he spun defender Joe Walsh from a throw in and with the angle against him inside the box lashed a half volley across goal and just wide of the far post.
From a similarly tight angle, this time just outside the box on the left, Donaldson fired a rising shot just over the bar, and centre-back Walsh then missed his header from a long punt forward and the lone frontman nipped in ahead of Paul Jones but, on the stretch could only poke the ball into the Reds’ ‘keeper’s arms.
Gregory’s men were struggling to make it out of their own half and Alan Judge headed a cross from the right straight at Paul Jones under pressure from Josh Simpson.
Winger Judge then jinked his way in from the left and left fly from 25 yards with a stinging drive which whistled only just wide of the far top corner.
Reds’ first shot on target came ten minute before the break but Josh Simpson’s low shot was comfortable for Bees goalkeeper David Button.
Three minutes from half-time midfielders Adam Forshaw and Jonathan Douglas combined well in the Crawley box for the latter to shoot straight at Paul Jones as the half finished goalless.
The pattern of the match looked set to continue in the second half when, four minutes after the restart Judge darted in from the left and stood a deft little ball up to the far post that was only just out of reach of two Brentford team mates.
At the other end Reds midfielder Gary Dicker was screaming for a penalty when he went down under a challenge when challenging for a cross, referee Stephen Martin though was uninterested.
Brentford finally found the breakthrough they deserved in the 57th minute after more than a helping hand from Paul Jones. The Crawley goalkeeper looked set for a routine save from Douglas’s header, but let the ball slip out of his grasp and into the net to put the hosts ahead.
It was his second costly error in recent matches after a similar spill handed Port Vale victory seven days before.
Gregory instantly made a change, replacing the ineffective Billy Clarke with Jamie Proctor up front.
Goalkeeper Jones went some way to atoning for his error with a fine close-range stop to deny Stuart Dallas on the half volley, and this time from the opposite side the same player cut in from the right and saw his curling effort skim the roof of the net.
Crawley did enjoy their best spell of possession near the end but were never really threatened to level, and only a fine block by Mat Sadler denied Dallas a certain goal as he latched onto a low cross.
Roared on by a vocal home crowd Brentford failed to add to their lead but comfortably saw out another victory to move closer to automatic promotion by completing the double over Crawley, who are now in a real fight for their League One survival.
BEES: Button, Forshaw (Diagouraga 89), Craig, Douglas, Donaldson, McCormack, Dallas, Saville (Reeves 68), Judge (Trotta 72), Bidwell, Tarkowski.
SUBS: Bonman, O’Connor, Dean, Grigg, Diagouraga, Reeves, Trotta.
REDS: P Jones; P Connolly, Sadler, McFadzean, Walsh; Bulman (Torres 68), Dicker, Simpson, M Jones; Clarke (Proctor 59), Tubbs.
SUBS: M Connolly, Torres, Fallon, Proctor, Monakana, Maddison, Edwards.