That’s five games against Sheffield Wednesday since Brentford ascended to the Championship and still the Bees are to record anything more than a draw against the Owls. Yet we’ll never have a better chance than yesterday after entering injury time 1-0 up despite having spent huge swathes of the game under the cosh, survived wave after wave of pressure and seen some glaring misses.
With Wednesday fans already calling the police to report the proverbial robbery, Sam Hutchinson stole in to grab a late, late headed equaliser from an injury time free kick. On chances created by the visitors it was probably a deserved result but chances count for jack if you don’t put them away. Instead, it was Brentford who ended the game feeling bitter disappointment after coming so close to making it three wins from three games at Griffin Park with no goals conceded.
The first half was woeful from the Bees. No question. Even Dean Smith was honest enough in his post match assessment to admit, “We were very, very poor…. If somebody had offered me a point at half-time I would have ripped their hands off, but we are disappointed to concede so late in the game.”
Highlight of the first half was the incredible miss by Lucas João. Just yards out and unmarked in front of the goal, the back of the net was at his mercy as a Fernando Foristieri pass found its way past Brentford goalkeeper Daniel Bentley. If ever you needed the dictionary definition of open goal then this was it. Yet, somehow, after making a couple of stabs at the ball the Wednesday striker somehow managed to hoof it clear of the bar.
One Ealing Road observer, standing directly behind the goal, would later remark that he was going back to Church because the Virgin birth was more believable than that miss. It was THAT bad.
If the Wednesday fans would end the game feeling as though they were being robbed, this was a case of Brentford very much getting away with murder. Defensively speaking. Strigiformicide?
Yet the Bees had to thank Bentley as much as João for keeping us in the game. A series of fine saves, including one stunner from a Nico Yennaris header, ensured we ended the first half level. And from there, things changed.
Lasse Vibe showed just how important it is to follow up on a backpass. Wednesday ‘keeper Kieren Westwood had been put under unnecessary pressure by his own defence fannying around in the sunshine instead of clearing it forward. The subsequent hurried clearance he was forced to make was charged down by the great Dane and bounced straight back into the net to give the Bees the lead.
It was a goal neither knew too much about but, at the same time, a reward for putting in that run at the ‘keeper. So often a futile move yet one which can pay off every now and again. Likewise, it heralded a return of everybody’s favourite chant. “It’s all your fault, It’s aaallll yourrr fault” ringing around the home end.
With the game adopting a more even feel, and Wednesday then reduced to ten men following a second yellow card to David Jones (for dissent), surely there would be only one winner? Surely….
But no. Brentford seemed content to keep their somewhat unwieldy shape and rather than press for the winner, sit on the lead. This is never a great strategy, moreso with the Bees also down to ten men late on. Lasse Vibe being the recipient of refereeing justice after a somewhat innocuous coming together with Foristieri saw the Brentford man receive his second yellow with just minutes left on the clock.
With Wednesday having nothing to lose they went for it. And this time Hutchinson’s header, and a point, was their reward as the game ended 1-1.
Ryan Woods and Dan Bentley again provided the highlights for Brentford. The former was everywhere whilst our new goalkeeper has, once more, shown just why so many teams were after him in the summer. His performance was one that Sky Sports would describe as “A succession of breathtaking saves.” The highlights package shows just how well he did. Along with that miss.
Mark Burridge works more magic on the mic
Dean Smith appears to have have adopted a total reverse of substitution philosophy compared to previous seasons. In days gone by, three changes made in the 60 -70 minute ‘zone’ were a footballing routine as predictable as Arsene Wenger subsequently claiming to have missed a penalty incident or West Ham’s new stadium being mentioned. This, no matter how good or bad we’d been up until that point.
Now, he seems intent on running his players into the ground. I’m sure he’d argue that is part of building a solid, settled team and whilst I can respect that, why persist so long when by his own admission we’d been very, very poor? Konstantin Kerschbaumer in particular, who had such a fine end to last campaign, must be desperate to get out there.
Outside of the game itself, plus points from the afternoon also included the new look gantry. Whilst we’ve all had our two-penneth worth on the way the upgraded structure was (or wasn’t) announced to the world, it’s welcome to see just how quickly the club have since reacted. Fair play to them and the team at BIAS (who I understand have been involved in discussion) for making what changes we could in such a short space of time.
On personal note, I’d also like to offer huge THANKS to all those involved at Brentford for their help in making sure my son had such a wonderful afternoon as team mascot. He was made nothing but welcome by everybody involved – from Malcolm in the match-day team all the way through to Dean Smith, the players and even Wednesday mascot Lucy. It really was a wonderful treat and the attention of everybody showed yet again, as if any reminder were required, what a wonderful family club we have.
Sam Saunders has, I’m afraid to say, now been pushed into second place as his favourite player. It was 90 minutes of “Where’s Harlee?” and “Come on Harlee!” as our captain has now become his new number one.
Harlee – if you are reading (who knows?) then an extra big thanks from Harry and dad.