Saturday afternoons don’t get much better than this. A great day on the road that saw Brentford climb up to 7th(seventh) place after a fine 2-0 win in Brighton. Whilst Newcastle United may have left us in eighth at close of play (their win in the late kick off with Derby County rendering that early season double defeat nothing more than a statistical anomaly, for now…) the important thing was an inspiring performance that saw the Bees reach 10 points. For the record, twice the amount we’d reached this time last season and the perfect tonic ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Aston Villa.
What can you say? The Bees were well under the cosh in the first half and, if we’re being honest, took the lead somewhat against the run of play. Much like our last game, the 1-1 at home with Sheffield Wednesday, it was a case of wondering how our opposition had failed to take the lead.
This time, however, rather than bad misses or great saves from Dan Bentley, it was an all round team effort that kept the attacking hordes at bay. Harlee Dean and John Egan both had great games. At one point combining to somehow clear Tomer Hemed’s goal bound effort off the line (definitely not after it had crossed, Definitely).
By that stage though, Brentford were already 1-0 up. Having weathered the early storm we began to feel our way into the game and were certainly giving as good as we got, at least in terms of ball retention and build up. But, as ever, passes and possession stats don’t win games. Goals do. So when the moment did come, how nice that we were able to do what Brighton had found so tricky.
Indeed, and I’ll happily be corrected, I don’t recall the Bees having an effort on target until Lewis Macleod released that man Scott Hogan down the left with half an hour on the clock. Cutting into the box he powered it past the advancing David Stockdale to leave the former Fulham man with no chance.
1-0 Brentford and the half came to the close with that early on pitch storm being replaced by one off it. The weather , a combination of heavy drizzle and wet air. For those of us allocated tickets down the front, it would have been easier to just go and sit in a bath for ten minutes. Still, if that was the worst thing to happen then hardly the end of the world.
The second period continued as the first ended, with the Bees growing into the game. Actually, it wasn’t quite as it ended. Andreas Bjelland made a welcome return, albeit filling in for the injured Callum Elder whom Dean Smith would later tell us “has just opened up his knee…He was in a bit of pain and he felt that the knee was going a little lax. We will have to wait until the medical team have a look to see what is wrong then”.
But if the line up had changed, the intensity hadn’t. Brentford continued to press and Hogan’s second, blasted high into the roof of the net after great interplay, was no more than was deserved. And from there, it was safe. Brighton pushed and prodded but despite more of the overall play (they ended the game on 60% possession) if you can’t convert your chances then you get nothing.
At 0-0 one fan behind us had been berating Brentford and what he saw as our, apparent, inability to score. Instead preferring to walk it around Arsenal style, players too scared or unable to shoot. Actually, if anything that epitaph one that should have been applied to Brighton yesterday.
Nobody could deny they looked wonderful in the build up but a combination of resolute Brentford defending and inability to get close to the target was the Seagulls undoing. The Bees, on the other hand, were clinical when the moment arose.
And talking of fans, how great to see and hear the travelling faithful in such good voice. The trip to Brighton is always a great one, with plenty of seaside hostelries to help quench the thirst and loosen the vocal cords after running the gauntlet of a trip on Southern rail (this, a rare day when they weren’t on strike). Plenty of new things to try along with the Funky Bee turning up again after all these years
Inside the Amex, a strange pre-match ‘megamix’ (Now that’s what I call stadium music?) included what might have been the England supporter’s ‘band’ segueing into Hey, Jude. I’m not complaining (that band, aside) but it does beg the question as to why you would cede any form of home advantage whosoever by playing the opposition’s ’song’ just before the players ran out? Still. it worked. For us.
Likewise, as ever, a chance to see a few familiar and some new faces. My claim to fame – aside from seeing Adrian Chiles on the Hounslow service to Clapham Junction in the morning – was meeting the family attributable for the creation of Buzzette.
Whilst Buzzette isn’t in the Kingsley league (then again, who is?) she comes a very close second and there’s no doubting her continued popularity. And that’s just me.
Roll on Wednesday and Aston Villa. Here’s to more of the same. If Brentford carry on as we did on Saturday, then it could be a very interesting evening indeed. Forget the Seagulls, we could have been up against herons or golden eagles and I think we’d have come away with the points .
Coming out of the ground at full time, I heard one Brighton fan walking past say to another, “You’d think they’ve won the cup the way they are celebrating“. A reference to ourselves? To Mr Slade? Or some other snippet of conversation taken totally out of context?
Who cares! Forget the cider – THIS is an omen. Can we do it again? See you at Villa Park to find out….