Finally. The FA Cup third round is here. Brentford host Eastleigh on Saturday afternoon boosted by West Ham suffering a home humping at the hands of Manchester City last night. With the hapless Hammers going down in a game that very much threatened brackets at one stage – City having to settle for 5 rather than 7(seven) – their cup campaign is over. Which, as the principal suitors for goal machine Scott Hogan, can only be good news for the Bees – at least, in the short term.
That’s of no concern to Dean Smith. He has already told BBC Radio London that “If Scott Hogan is fit to play then naturally he will be in the team… If he is not then I won’t risk him. That is not because of any potential move away.”
There you go. Convinced? That said, I do wonder how much last night’s result from the West Ham Olympic stadium may have helped his fitness?
The one thing Dean can’t do, whomever he picks, is underestimate Eastleigh. The non-leaguers represent a huge potato skin for the Bees to slip up on. Putting the Martin Allen factor to one side, let’s not forget how they held Bolton in last year’s third round. Only an 87th minute equaliser from former Bee Darren Pratley sparing the (then) Championship side’s blushes. Even then, they still ran them close in the replay – taking the lead and later levelling things up before Pratley, again, popped up with the decisive goal in five.
Chuck in our own capitulation to Walsall the same weekend and only a fool would take the third round for granted. Ours and Eastleigh’s were certainly picked out as ties that told the story of the round (the Spitfires even having a quagmire – sorry, pitch- inspection live on Football Focus). Yet as the minnows covered themselves in glory, for the Bees it was a case of wanting to slink away after being dumped out on a woeful afternoon.
Dean has also spoken of that defeat this week, saying how “It was horrible for me because I wanted to play a full strength team but it was followed immediately by games against two teams (Middlesbrough and Burnley) who went on to get promoted.”.
Whilst hindsight is a wonderful thing, it was a strategy that saw the Bees lose both games anyway. 0-1 to our, so called, bogey team and then 1-3 to Burnley. The latter, in particular, featuring as one-sided a first half as you could fear to see before the Bees were able to make a fight of it at 0-3 down
But with a 9 day break unto our next game, at home to Newcastle United, Dean doesn’t have that issue this time around. So will he go full strength or make some changes?
I’d still expect the latter. I’d still expect Brentford to win. And if the likes of Alan McCormack, KK ,Sam Saunders or even (oh, please) Jota are included than that’s as much a case of picking hungry players with more than a point to prove and more than the ability to perform.
I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again. With tickets available on the day and starting from just £10 for adults where else are you gong to go? Ikea? Westfield? The mother-in-law’s?
Surely it can only be Griffin Park?
See you there. But not before doing a bit of work with some glue, a roll of tin foil and the pizza box from the XXL I was forced to order last night given the lack of cardboard in our house.
The sacrifices you make for a shot at FA Cup glory….