Well that’s not a bad few days work. Brentford pulled it back to draw 1-1 with Aston Villa in a game which, arguably, the Bees can end up feeling disappointed not to have won. Certainly, based on a final ten minutes of frenetic pressure that built to a dazzling crescendo and almost an additional two points. Coming hot on the heels of Saturday’s win at Brighton, Dean Smith can probably allow himself an extra portion of coco pops this morning as reward for a job well done.
It was a point which was all the sweeter for having run the gauntlet of pre (and post) match abuse from a section of Villa home fans on social media. Da kidz giving it large from the safety of their keyboards is not uncommon these days but how delicious when it blows back at them.
In truth, it wasn’t a classic in terms of end to end action.
Wonderful though the atmosphere and surroundings were (nobody could deny how impressive a stadium Villa Park is with the TV doing her scant justice), on the field of play we had two teams who cancelled each other out as chances were, what we will politely call, limited .
The flip side to this being that the annihilation predicted yesterday by the Birmingham Mail failed to materialise.
Villa played a largely turgid brand of football, especially in the second half, that Brentford weren’t quite able to rise above. In midfield Nico seemed a touch quieter than normal, Romaine Sawyers would perhaps benefit from a break on Saturday whilst I was surprised to see the positive Josh Clarke replaced. The supply to Scott Hogan was limited yet we were never outclassed in a game that, for the neutrals (should there have been any), struggled to really get going.
Alternatively you could argue that Villa, as the home side and hot favourites, were unable to break down the Bees. That they were locked out. Yet those are the standards we now set ourselves and the point that expectation levels have risen to as we start a third season in the Championship. Other teams underestimate Brentford at their peril whereas we know the peaks we can reach.
That’s not to say Brentford didn’t compete. Far from it. We bossed the game for large periods but having fallen behind to a rare moment of genius from the home side it looked as thought things would stay 1-0. Jonathan Kodjia’s exquisitely struck shot after 20 minutes, curling into the far corner through a crowded box, would have beaten just about any goalkeeper on the planet and was a rare moment of quality in a stop-start first half.
Yet despite chances remaining few and far between the Bees kept going and, as the visiting support began to crank up the noise (a lengthy rendition of Oldham’s song standing out in particular), you got the feeling that all was not lost. Sure enough, in that wonderful period known as Jota time, John Egan was able to drive the ball over the line following great work in the build up from Sullay Kaikai.
The Bees fans erupted. The Villa faithful fled. Melting away like ice in the sun as the proverbial fire drill took hold. But wait; there’s more. Almost. Oh, had it come ten minutes earlier. With Villa reeling, the Bees pressed desperately for a knock out blow.
It would have been a thrilling denouement but, alas, wasn’t to be. The game finished one apiece but Brentford can be proud to have come away from such illustrious surroundings with at least a point.
Even the pre and post match diversions around Birmingham couldn’t dampen spirits. The high of managing to swerve the M6 gridlock on the way in was somewhat tempered by the coach driver’s realisation (as we almost ran aground on a countryside canal bridge) that ‘his boss’ had programmed the post code for the Aston Villa training ground rather than Villa Park into the sat nav. I’m genuinely not sure if his subsequent question of, “Does anybody actually know where we are going?” was meant tongue-in-cheek or seriously.
What else can you say? It wasn’t a classic but Brentford more than held their own. Who amongst us, being honest, wouldn’t have taken four points form a possible six prior to away games with Brighton and Aston Villa?
Not bad for a shower of sh*t pub side.