After a day where the majority of the footballing world were talking about Fat Sam leaving the England job ‘by mutual consent’ (definitely not sacked. Just to be clear. Not. Sacked) one would imagine that outside of TW8, Brentford thumping Reading 4-1 will quite likely be low on most people’s topics of discussion this morning. Which is a massive shame because the victory, which saw the Bees rise above the likes of Newcastle United to fourth place in the Championship table, was one to savour.
Even now (Wednesday morning, 6 a.m.), I’m speechless. The questions going in to the game were how would Dean Smith rebuild his midfield whilst, at the same time, countering the perceived attacking threat from a supposedly rejuvenated John Swift? Didn’t they get answered in some style?
Quite frankly, victory by a mere three goal margin flattered Reading. Brentford were simply magnificent in their attacking play. With Lasse Vibe sitting up top alongside Scott Hogan it marked a change in set up, at least to my untrained eye, that looked more like a traditional 4-4-2 formation.
It was one that reaped rewards. The combative Alan McCormack, who would eventually leave the field of play to a standing ovation, bossed the centre of the park. Man of the match Josh Clarke had a night he will never forget, tearing down the flanks and running Reading ragged. (Round and round the ragged Reading the rugged rascal ran?).
The opening goal and an assist for Max Colin to make it 3-0 were the least he deserved after a true coming of age performance. Josh has impressed when he has featured but this was something else. If ever there was a gauntlet thrown down to Dean Smith to give him a permanent starting berth then here it was.
As for the other Josh, McEachran, thankfully the stretcher used at Wolves seems to have been purely a precautionary one. He replaced the aforementioned Macca and set up Scott Hogan for the fourth. The exquisite ball through the Reading defence cutting them open as easily as a manger earning £400,000 for two hours work. Allegedly.
In between this and Josh’s opener, Lasse Vibe grabbed the second just before half time with Colin’s effort making it 3-0 within an hour. A game which had never been in doubt from the moment it kicked off was now secure in all but final score. Even Yann Cormorant’s second half penalty proved to be little more than the stereotypical consolation goal.
How it was only four I still don’t know. Hats off to Dean Smith and his team for a display of simply scintillating football. One move at the death came close to producing goal of the decade at Griffin Park.
A wondrous cross field ball from Romaine Swayers picked out Max Colin from fifty yards out. The former Walsall man then moving forward to take an equally delicious return pass before freeing Sullay Kaikai. Oh for the subsequent strike to have found the back of the net rather than the gloves of Al-Habsi in the Reading goal.
I make no apologies for bigging us up. It really was that good a display from the Bees. Let’s not be blind to the fact that Reading had their chances too, hitting the post twice in a game where they could have taken the lead. Yet even when chances did come, Daniel Bentley was on hand to keep the Royals at bay.
The perceived threat of Swift was snuffed out (although presumably he still got paid) whilst for all the visitor’s 63% possession the only true stat that counted was the one which read: Goals. And the Bees owned that by 4 to 1.
With the Championship now ten games old, the table has officially ‘taken shape’. And what a shape. There’s another home game to follow on Saturday, this time against Wigan, and with it the perfect way to set ourselves up (in a footballing rather than a financial sense) for the International break.
As QPR(a) goes on sale to the first category qualifiers today, let’s hope the team in the ticket booth are ready to take a few phone calls. It was always going be THE away game yet with spirits high, and the Bees already five points clear of the not so super hoops, expect them to fly off the shelves.
What a shame Jake Bidwell won’t be playing in that one. Our former captain now expected to be out for anything from two to four months (depending on which source you read) following an injury in their 1-1 at Burton. Here’s hoping it is nothing too severe. Whatever your thoughts on his move, nobody likes to see a player hurt.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Why not enjoy last night once more. On a day that began with stories of Sam being ‘stung’ by the press in a restaurant, it ended with the Bees stinging Reading in the backside.