Fine margins see Huddersfield staying alive as Brentford goal glut runs dry.

12 Mar

All good things come to an end and that was certainly the case on Saturday as Brentford saw their hot streak in front of goal stop with a juddering halt. Huddersfield Town shutting us out (and not just in front of goal, if we’re being honest) as they recorded a 1-0 win at Griffin Park. With Fulham, of all teams, doing them a stonking favour with a 3-1 win up at Newcastle United, there’s everything to play for in the top slots .Good luck to anyone trying to call the two automatic promotion places that the Terriers, Magpies and Seagulls are currently fighting over.

Still, promotion is nothing but a pipe dream for Brentford at present – albeit we have a wonderful chance to still impact the play off race later in the season when we travel to Fulham. Assuming they haven’t choked it by that point.

Instead, our aspirations are more about building for next season and, with safety all but mathematically assured, we’ve been doing this in fine style recently. Brentford entered this game off the back off a goal glut which had seen us rise to the top half of the Championship table. Then Huddersfield paid a visit.

Despite a lurid kit – think QPR with added highlighter pen – and the pressure of David Wagner having been named ‘manager of the month’ the visitors accomplished their sole aim. Win the game to keep the pressure on Newcastle and Brighton.

IMG_6343

View from the Braemar – three points and a lurid kit for Huddersfield Town

Whether it was exhaustion, a terrible display from referee Oliver Langford (who seemed to be set to ‘random’ mode), superior opposition or just a combination of all the above, we were second best on the afternoon. Despite a bright start to both periods, Huddersfield were soon able to control the game and snuff out our attacking threat. Indeed, it was the visitors who had the better chances even if the only way they did find the back of the net was via a combination of a Harlee Dean deflection and Dan Bentley.

It was a shame because the pair of them have been unsung heroes this season. The goals of Scott Hogan and the return of our talismanic Spaniards have dominated the headlines and perception of our team. Yet both Dan and Harlee have more than played their parts and are serious contenders for player of the season, when we look back over the entire campaign.

Things could have been different. Perhaps. Brentford had a bright start to both periods, Jota unleashing a drive from outside the box after three minutes that Danny Ward in the Huddersfield goal had to go full stretch to parry away.

Moments into the second half (the Bees having survived a huge scare almost from kick off) Lasse Vibe was presented a gilt edged chance.

Rico Henry releasing Flo Jo, whose slide rule pass across the box found the great Dane unmarked and Ward flatfooted. Yet instead of stroking it home, he somehow managed to sky it over the bar from eight yards out. In truth, the ball was travelling at him, at speed, yet even allowing for that movement one would still have hoped to see the net ripple. And that, a deflected effort that looped onto the top of the crossbar aside, was as good as it got.

After the game, Dean Smith would talk about fine margins being the difference. In the interview which you can find on Brentford ‘official’, he noted how:  “If the goal is given, if Lasse takes his chance, if the free-kick is given at the end of the game then it is different. Unfortunately we are not getting loads of those calls at the moment.

Was this a thinly veiled dig at referee Oliver Langford? A man who incensed captain Harlee Dean and the entire Griffin Park crowd with a series of odd decisions. Certainly, we’ve been getting the goals (and even penalty calls) in recent weeks. Yet even watching from the sidelines, Dean was more animated than I think I’ve ever seen him before as decision after decision went the way of the opposition. He was less Dijkhuizen and more Saturday Night Fever, such was the way he waved his arms around every time a crunching foul was overlooked.

Dean Smith travolta

Dean channeling his inner Travolta, with Huddersfield staying alive in the promotion race

I’ll be keen to see the official highlights later on today. The 90 seconds served up by Sky (in as much all you need to know about the game) glossed over any refereeing faux-pas. Instead, they are just a chance to remind ourselves about what might have been.

That said, I did find Dean’s assertion that, “I thought that we more than matched them today” a bit of an odd one. Statistically speaking alone, the visitors had more possession, more shots and more goals whilst just looking at the game as a supporter I can acknowledge when we’ve been nullified. Huddersfield weren’t streets ahead but they were the better team on the day, no question. They are where they are for a reason.

Instead, we’ll just have to regroup for Tuesday night’s game against Wolves. Expect personnel changes for no other reason than the amount of games we’ve played in such a short space of time. Again, something Dean alluded to in that interview. Could the likes of KK, Tom Field, Sergi Canos and Josh Clarke find themselves back in the starting XI?

Whoever he picks will have the somewhat dubious privilege of Keith Stroud being the man to wave the cards in that theatrical style of his. Here’s hoping Keith is the restrained man in the middle that we have seen on occassion rather than the Keith of Bramall Lane infamy.

This season his record is 161 yellows and 11 reds in his 35 games. That’s an average of 4.6 bookings per game. By comparison, Mr Langford has 113 yellows and 5 reds over the same period. I’m not sure which is better really, going on yesterday.

Instead, let’s just hope it’s our football that everyone is taking about once more come Tuesday night.

keith-stroud-referee-blackburn-v-burnley-24th-october-2015

Keith Stroud – your eyes aren’t wrong. There is NO card in hand

Nick Bruzon

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5 Responses to “Fine margins see Huddersfield staying alive as Brentford goal glut runs dry.”

  1. Bernard Quackenbush (@BernardQuack) March 12, 2017 at 10:23 am #

    I agree with you rather than Dean Smith on this one. Huddersfield were way the better team. Firstly they did their homework, keeping Jota quiet for large chunks of the game. They pressed high up the pitch and did it at rapid pace too forcing the Bees into a number of errors and not getting the ball forward with the regularity we have come to expect. They also gave Rico a torrid time down our left with their overlapping runs. Rico did all he could but he rarely had support to stem the flow. Some around me were criticising the Bees but we were simply being undone by a far superior team with Billing, a player clearly destined for greater things, just making the whole game dance to his tune.

    Saying that Lasse’s miss was shocking and any changes made by Smith always seemed to be 5-10 minutes too late.

    Add to that the refereeing display of Oli Langford. A referee I was expecting little of after his similarly diabolical display against Norwich on NYE. He lost control of the game more than once and was inconsistent and dithering with his decisions. More than once relying on his assistant Neil Davies, who had a very good game, to make the decision for him. Langford at the beginning of the season was seen as a potential Premier League ref, but is now no longer mentioned in talk about promotions at the end of the season.

    Other things I spotted. As kit obsessives, the luminous kits are reviled. But, I finally got it yesterday. The luminous kits give the impression that the opposition are everywhere. Normal colours dont give that effect.

    Simply Red was played yet again before the game. This is a family club. Children should not be subjected to such horrors. Whoever was responsible should have a rest of season ban!

    Saw Chris Kamara on his way to the gantry. He did not refuse a single selfie request and event helped one or two youngsters out with their phones. Fair play to him.

    • nickbruzon March 12, 2017 at 11:08 am #

      Thanks BQ, as ever. I have to be honest that having requested ‘Simply Red / Fairground’ on BeeTHeDJ v Rotherham – purely for the comic effect of trying to prove a reaction from Adam Devlin – it now seems to be on the playlist. Forget Oliver Langford, Dean’s tactics or the better team. The upset of hearing that can be the only reason the Bees were outplayed yesterday

      • Bernard Quackenbush (@BernardQuack) March 12, 2017 at 11:17 am #

        I think you are right. Hearing Simply Red must have had an adverse psychological effect on the team. You could sense the crowd feeling quite despondent. Whatever you do, dont even request Ed Sheeran either

  2. Spanish Bee March 12, 2017 at 12:14 pm #

    This has definitely got possibilities. You play something lively when the Bees do their pre-match warm up, and when the opposition warm up you play Radiohead.

    • peter lumley March 13, 2017 at 3:18 pm #

      Forget the music!Your analysis of the game,the relative performances of the two teams,and the post match comments of DS were,as usual perceptive and accurate,Nick. A great shame that Lasse Vibe missed a golden opportunity so early in the second half.If he had found the back of the net the game would have taken on a totally different complexion thereafter. But as we all know football is a game of its and buts. If we were slightly sub-standard that was nothing compared with the performances of the referee and at least one of his assistants.Dreadful quickly comes to mind. But we move on and hope that the Bees can sting the Wolves tomorrow night !

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