Brentford have done it again. 2-0 down at home to Ipswich Town and with the clock showing 90, injury time goals from Andre Gray and James Tarkowski gave us a point that saw the reign of Marinus Dijkhuizen get off to an incredible start.
Did we deserve it? Just. The Bees looked very solid early on with Judge and Gogia linking wonderfully. Jota showed his appetite for goal has not diminished over the summer (well saved Bartosz Bialkowski in the Ipswich goal) but then things hit the skids with about 20 minutes left in the first half.
The defence started to stretch and the goal, just before half time, was an inevitable consequence as Kevin Bru made it 1-0. Still, if that was bad the second, just the other side of the break, was even sloppier as Ryan Fraser was given the freedom of the Griffin Park penalty box to make it 0-2 Ipswich.
But fairplay to Marinus. He went for broke – not even waiting until the 60th minute for a substitution. Andre Gray replaced Konstantin Kerschbaumer on 54 and then Lasse Vibe came on for Alan McCormack for the final twenty minutes.
With three strikers on the pitch simultaneously, could the Bees make it work?
Well, despite Vibe missing a glorious opportunity, Andre latched on to a long ball over the top and, one on one with Bialkowski, kept his nerve to halve the deficit two minutes in to the five that referee Coote had added on. Marinus told Billy Reeves after the game that the young striker “was not mentally ready to start so we had a common decision to keep him on the bench and if we need him, then we bring him.”
What a response from a player that the head coach also admitted “Yes. Maybe” when asked if he would be on his way, following further transfer speculation.
And then, with moments left, the place really went bonkers. With David Button up for a corner, the ball hit the crossbar and seemed to hang in the air for an eternity before James Tarkowski stabbed it home through a sea of players with pretty much the last touch of the game.
It was the sort of bundled effort we’d seen Jonathan Douglas score time and again last season as Griffin Park exploded. Even better, we’ve stopped taking corners short and, guess what, scored from one.
And talking of Dougie, there IS life without him. Understandably, the new look team are going to take a few games to gel whilst transfer speculation and the playing surface didn’t help anybody. But can we read anything into Dougie coming on after 78 minutes with the visitors cruising and the final result? I’ll leave that one to you.
The other major talking point from the game was the state of the pitch. Looking about an inch deep, laid on top of builder’s sand, what on earth has happened to it? Regardless of the huge chunks being kicked out of the turf, I can’t help but think somebody could get a serious injury such was the way it was cutting up.
Whilst the ‘official’ Beesplayer postmatch interview with Marinus edited out his comments on the surface, the BBC have them in full c/o of Billy Reeves (who I must also congratulate on his very brave choice of tie – if you saw it, you’ll know)
He asked the question of Marinus and got the answer. “The pitch is a disaster. Its awful, unbelievable. In preseason Boreham Wood had a good pitch…here it’s terrible.”
Even Channel 5 failed to make it look good on their new look highlight’s package But then that was such a car crash of a football show that they’d have failed to make Cameron Diaz look good. And Bees fans, if you want my full review on that (including the best of Twitter) you can read that here – think Mick Fleetwood and Samantha Fox presenting the Brits.
It was a point also noted by the Ipswich fans who, I have to say, were in great form. Talking after the game in particular, you could have forgiven them for some frustration after what would have been seen as a ‘smash and grab’ from Brentford. Instead, there was almost a relief that football was back combined with a resignation that she has lost none of her ability to kick supporters in the nuts.
We’ll be doing well to top this level of excitement over the next 45 games but, knowing Brentford, I’m sure they’ll give it their very best shot.
And talking of ‘best shots’ – special credit to Andre Gray. I have no idea about what is happening behind the scenes but I’m desperate for us to hang on to him. It was an ice cool finish at a high pressure moment.
“We want you to stay” sang the crowd. That chant didn’t work on Alex Pritchard and, whilst perhaps a somewhat futile gesture, you can fully understand the sentiment.
Did he hear it? Will he listen? Prove me wrong !