Brentford stormed to yet another last gasp win, this time over Nottingham Forest, as a 2-1 victory proved yet again the ‘never say die’ attitude in this team. In scenes reminiscent of this season’s game with Ipswich Town and countless more at Griffin Park over the last few campaigns, Forest played the ultimate price for letting the Bees play to the final whistle. But it was the red card for Harlee Dean that has overshadowed the points and the confirmation from Lee Carsley that it was his own final game in charge.
The big centreback was shown straight red after a stupid flash of petulance saw him lash out at Forest’s Jonathan Williams. It was the briefest of moments, coming straight after a clumsy challenge by Dean on Nélson Oliveira saw a free kick awarded and a tussle over the ball with Williams.
But however brief or aggrieved one might feel, there’s no excuse for raising your arm. Referees have been programmed to show red in such instances and to do so at any time, let alone right in front of the ref and with his own team leading, was utterly inept.
His cause wasn’t helped by Williams collapsing like a sack of spuds but the damage, compounded by the Forest player’s Lazarus style recovery, had already been done.
“Harlee will be a big loss for us. He was one of the boys not doing themselves justice at the start of the season, but he is now playing like a leader” said Lee Carsley after the match. For somebody who was being touted as a potential captain at the start of the season, these were anything but the actions of a leader. The challenge was cumbersome but the subsequent action was inexcusable.
We’ve been saying for the last few weeks that a red card is coming, although usually in the direction of Alan McCormack. Given Lee’s confirmation that he’s had his last game in charge, this couldn’t have come at a worse time for the player given we’ll have a new manager looking to run his eye over the team.
I’ve asked many times who drives ‘official’ twitter and this was one of many such instances. Reading the match feed, it was as though we’d been somehow wronged.
Of course, ‘live’ comments can be made in the heat of the moment but the theme was then followed in the official match report, describing it as an “altercation”, before later adding, “Williams bounced up seemingly untouched as Dean marched angrily towards the dressing room.”
Football is an emotional game and things happen in an instant. That said, if one of our players does something like this then at least have the good grace to hold up your hands and acknowledge it afterwards. Albeit that, of course, such action is what got Harlee into trouble in the first place.
We’ve all got eyes and the majority view at the time from those who saw it was that the ref got it right. Terrace observers made comments including, “Deserved”, “Definitely a straight red” and “Furious. He’s denied us any chance of seeing Sam Saunders”.
Review of the footage, which has been available to all on the Sky website since 5.15pm last night, would further support this view. It would take a pretty blinkered fanatic not to accept that, in this case, we were in the wrong. Yet instead we plough on, North Korea style, with tales of glorious victories and atrocities committed against the imperious Bees.
Hey, don’t get me wrong. The victory itself was glorious! David Button keeping us in it until the second half turning of the screw. Sergi Canos opening proceedings when he got on the end of Harlee’s header – a final meaningful contribution before marching off for an early bath – only for an almost instant post red equaliser.
But, again, this only galvanised the Bees. Pressure built and wave after wave of attack was eventually rewarded in the 96th minute of the game. Philipp Hofmann fired through, and around, a crowded penalty box to send the crowd wild and Mark Burridge, up in the Beesplayer commentary box, to a level of excitement not heard since his ‘Burridgegasm’ at Blackburn Rovers.
But despite the win, I can’t help but be drawn back to that red card incident. I like Harlee Dean and it’s not particularly pleasing having to write negative comments about him, or any player. However, I can only call things how I see them. I’m sure he’ll learn from this and maybe even protest innocence but the footage is pretty damning.
Still, we are where we are and in Jack O’Connell have a more than capable replacement for the trip to Bolton Wanderers next Monday. Instead, the next question is more around who will be in charge for that one.
Lee Carsley confirmed after the match that it was pretty much his last game, with a new manager due to come in over the next couple of days. Who this will be remains under firmly under wraps with names as far reaching as Pep Clotet, Justin Edinburgh and even Neil Warnock being bandied around.
For now, I just want to thank Lee – a reluctant hero – for more than steadying the ship after the ill-fated experiment at the start of the season. Things didn’t quite work out , despite a glimmer of potential, but the transformation since the changeover has been an incredible one.
Lee has the honour of a ‘manager of the month’ award and the Bees are now just four points away from the play offs . No doubt there’ll be plenty written about the new appointment over the course of the coming week but, in the short term, Lee can step away with his head held high after a great job, very well done.