Can a leopard change his spots as Preston visit?

17 Sep

Saturday morning, TW8. The torrential downpour of Friday is but a fleeting memory as Brentford await the visit of Preston North End. Instead it is the memory of Wednesday night at Aston Villa and a wonderfully hard fought point in a game that we can count ourselves hugely unlucky not to have won by the end, which is just one of many motivating factors today.

Villa Park was wonderful. An incredible stadium and a great experience although at the end of the day (Clive) it has been and gone. The tickets are now residing in the stub collection (should anybody own such a thing) ; the half and half scarves at the back of the wardrobe. Or, preferably, a bonfire. Whilst we may get another chance to play them next season for now it is all about Preston.

bees-celebrate-at-villa-park

Bees fans celebrate the equaliser at Villa Park

The stadium holds it’s collective breath. The penalty taker has been chosen and the ball placed on the spot. With the scores locked at 0-0, Brentford supporters know that if this spot kick goes in, promotion to the Championship is as good as ours. Teeth are gritted, fingers crossed and buttocks clenched. One terrace wag turns around and looks at the faces of the fans behind him, such is the tension and, more importantly, his own penalty based idiosyncrasy (that’s not me, btw) .

Boooomm. Noooo!!! He’s hit the crossbar and they’ve now gone down the other end to steal the title .

Sorry. Wrong season. I mean, Yessss!!! He’s done it. On loan (as he was then) Alan Judge buried his first half effort from 12 yards to give the Bees a 1-0 lead in a game against Preston the following campaign that, thanks to other results, saw us go up to the Championship behind Wolves.

Such was the difference in climax compared to what had happened less than 12 months earlier against Doncaster that the only real breatholding was when the realisation dawned that our post match pitch invasion had been somewhat premature. Rotherham were doing their level best to haul themselves back into a seemingly lost cause at Molineux but, in the end, it was too late. We’d done it.

We all know what happened. Alan even missed a second penalty that day as the Preston support, fully spruced up for their annual ‘gentry day’ helped us celebrate long into the night.

Griffin Park pitch invasion

Some people are on the pitch – what a denouement to that Preston game

Yet, like the Aston Villa game, that is now another memory and marvellous though it is to wallow in it once more, focus on the task at hand is very much the order of the day.

Having lost their opening three games on the spin, Preston have now started to find their feet. Whilst beating QPR is no big thing these days (just ask Newcastle) their most recent outing saw another win with a stonking 3-0 defeat of Cardiff City.  Even the previous game,  defeat at Barnsley, saw manager Simon Grayson enthusing about the positives in his team’s performance.

The point being, underestimate Preston and their 19th place at your peril. If nothing else, the table is still three games away from officially ’taking shape’ . 10 games being the place when that benchmark of form is reached and, of course, we are now 7(seven) games into the campaign.

The next point of focus is the man in the middle. Few names inspire fear like Keith Stroud. The booking happy official really set himself apart in the game at Sheffield United back in April 2013 and has been flourishing the cards ever since.

And nothing has changed since. In the 10 games he has officiated this season, 48 yellows and 4 reds have already been produced from Mr Stroud’s pocket.

One can only hope that, in a season which has already seen referees taking a much harder line on could and a much dimmer view on petulance, pulling and diving, our boys can keep their focus. My online bookmaker isn’t even offering odds on a red card today. This, when I checked for research purposes.

Keith Stroud montage

Keith Stroud – we all know the drill

And then, of course, is the question of who Dean Smith picks to start this one. With the players having had one day’s less prep time than normal (it still feels so odd playing on a Wednesday) and the midfield looking a touch jaded at times agasint Villa, could changes be imminent? Or have Dean’s favoured XI recharged their batteries for another chance to reward his faith in them ?

Will Lasse Vibe start? What about Sullay Kaikai? The persistence and continued application of the Bees by the end of the Aston Villa game was clear for all to see.

Have these two subs done sufficiently to help tip the balance and, perhaps, give what must be some very tired legs a bit of a break? Likewise, could Dean make more changes to his midfield or is it just a game away from fully ‘clicking’? Decision, decisions.

The flip side to all of this is that I understand Marcus Gayle, will be in the Beesplayer commentary box this afternoon. Or, should I say, on the recently enlarged gantry where Mark Burridge and team will be based from today.

What’s so important about Marcus’s commentating skills, you may ask? Well, aside from being an absolute legend in his own lunchbox, sorry lunchtime, his form alongside Mark mirrors his success on the pitch bad. Two co-commentaries and two victories is as good a record as you could hope for.

Should we make it three in row today, I can only imagine Beesplayer listeners will be calling for Marcus to be made a regular fixture.

Marcus v Keith. Dean v Simon. Brentford v Preston. Who will come out on top? There’s only one place to find out. 3pm, Griffin Park.

See you there.

Nick Bruzon

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One Response to “Can a leopard change his spots as Preston visit?”

  1. Bernard Quackenbush (@BernardQuack) September 17, 2016 at 7:56 am #

    Today is all about Preston. Villa is now history and the past. History, rather than the now and the future, is something 1 or 2 of their supporters still believe is the be all and end all. Whereas Brentford are a club that never looks back, only forward.

    Nice comments about Bees Player. The voice of Mark Burridge has been a constant voice in my home for many years, and I can never praise his commentaries highly enough. Having ‘expert’ pundits this season has also been very welcome. For those of us at the games we dont have to miss out as I have enjoyed watching (and listening) back the full 90 minutes of games on Bees Player. Before I set off from Dorset today, I am looking forward to watching the whole of the Villa game

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