Table makes wonderful reading as Brentford beat Bolton to tighten the gap.

14 Jan

Brentford 2 Bolton Wanderers 0. Another league game unbeaten at Griffin Park (that’s 13 now, our longest run since 1951) and The Bees a mere three points outside the play-offs. True, that gap is tighter than a duck’s behind at the moment.  The same winning margin divides all six teams from Sheffield United down to ourselves in 11th. Yet with victory (and other results going our way)  all that stands between Brentford and a place in the promotion slots, let’s not pretend things aren’t getting very exciting as we enter the second half of the season. Saturday’s trip to Reading already can’t come soon enough.

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Form an orderly queue. Bolton were the visitors on Saturday

It was a game where victory eventually came to the team who bossed it yet nobody would have been surprised had we left Griffin Park with a point. Brentford had taken the lead just before half time. Flo Jo picking up a sweet pass from Lasse Vibe to hammer home high and hard from the cusp of the six-yard box and into the far corner of the net. It was a powerful finish to light up what in truth had been a somewhat turgid opening period. But a 1-0 lead going into the break was all that mattered and as the players re-emerged, it seemed only a matter of time before that was doubled.

Kamo fired straight at goalkeeper Ben Alnwick from yards out with the whole of the goal to aim at. Nico saw a shot bounce of the post. The Bees pressed. The Bees came close. Then the balance of play began to swing as Bolton sensed a glimmer of hope. Dean stuck to his starting XI as the pressure built.

The away fans gasped. The home support clenched buttocks. If the first half had been a damp squib then this was very much exploding into life. A freekick was headed wide, I forget who, as Bolton came oh-so close. Barbet and Bjelland the unfortunate victims of a bouncing ball as Daniel Bentley came to the rescue.  Bolton, cynical in the challenge, but desperate for a point.

And then it was over. Sergi Canos, a late sub for Florian Jozefzoon, squaring it for Neal Maupay to double our lead with the sweetest of backheels. Being honest, there had been a slight suspicion of offside from where we were sitting but nobody cared. The execution had been delicious and the sense of relief was palpable. Besides, watching the video highlights afterwards (Sky Sports have theirs up already; 12pm for the league to let us put the ‘official’ version up) there was nothing wrong with the goal. Perfect positioning and the calmest of finishes. Stick that in your pie and eat it, Ian Moose.

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Bolton were left looking dazed and confused by the end

It’s hard to find fault on what was a wonderful afternoon. Brentford continuing their fine, fine form ahead of Saturday’s trip to Reading. There’ll be over 2,000 Bees fans at that one. A quite wonderful effort for a game where the reward for another win is there for all to see. If I have any ‘negative’ (and the word is used in the loosest sense) it would have been in the delay to making any substitutions.

Whereas the Warburton era saw you able to set your watch by his making changes within ‘the zone’ (60-70 minutes on the clock), regardless of how the team were doing, these days there seems to be almost a reluctance to switch things around until late on. Even when the opposition are turning the screw as we saw yesterday. Sitting where I was, there was a definite upping off the the ante from Bolton that might have seen us pay pay the price with the Bees continuing as was.

It’s a small observation and, ultimately, one that will be dismissed by the fact we came away with a 2-0 win. That will be proven as Dean having faith in the players he picked to do a job and their following it through. And on that point I can’t disagree – they DID. Yet equally, football is a game of fine margins. We all saw how tense it got for a while and there have been times this season when it’s felt as though we’ve been slow to react to what is happening in front of us.

But as we all know, I’m just the numpty on the terrace. I couldn’t manage a beer yesterday (it’s dry January) let alone a football team. Perhaps that is just part and parcel of being a Bees/football supporter – we’ve been conditioned over the years to fear the worst. To expect that kick in the nuts; that ultimate sucker punch. Defenders are paid to defend and they did that admirably. Chris Mepham in particular having yet another stand out game. Talk about a wise head on young shoulders. Dean made his calls and the result shows he got them right. Again.

Equally, the Warburton era saw a team picked by numbers even when perhaps a change might have been due. Jonathan Douglas (at the end) and Harlee Dean (when he was at the more unpredictable end of the scale) seemingly nailed onto the teamsheet. Dean isn’t afraid to mix things around as was seen with Sergi tied to the bench for most of yesterday’s game. With Mepham continuing to keep out more experienced colleagues.

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Late sub Sergi – insert your own caption

But we digress. That’s the price of writing these things on the hoof. Mark Warburton was a hero to pretty much all of us at Griffin Park. He did his thing his way and we all know how close Brentford came. Likewise, we all know how things ended.

That was then, this is now. Dean Smith is the man in charge. Along with his coaching staff, he’s more than getting the results. More than building a quite wonderful team spirit. He has his team set for a second half of the season that could, if things continue, eclipse any that have come before.

Honestly, I didn’t think I’d be saying this back in September given the start that Brentford had. Players sold, bottom of the table and four points from eight games. Then, we went to Bolton and won 3-0. How things have turned since that point. Could Saturday’s win over the same opposition prove an equally telling catalyst ?

One things for sure, it’s going to be fun finding out. Here’s to Reading and that gap towards the top getting even tighter.

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The red and white express raced to another win on Saturday

Nick Bruzon

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9 Responses to “Table makes wonderful reading as Brentford beat Bolton to tighten the gap.”

  1. Bernard Quackenbush (@BernardQuack) January 14, 2018 at 9:35 am #

    Again yesterday I felt we looked reasonably comfortable with Bentley not having too much to do. This has a lot to do with Mepham in the side who has been outstanding since his introduction. Mepham’s presence at the back has also seen Bjelland having his best games for the Bees too. Despite my adoration for Yoann, I just dont think we should look to break up this partnership. Although it could see Egan move on, with the club turning down a couple of offers for him in the summer, which kind of suggests his agent maybe working his or her socks off.

    Yet again we just lacked that killer instinct in front of goal, and we are still to see that game where it all comes together and we best someone heavily. Delighted for Maupay, first goal since that miss at Cardiff, and you could see how much it meant to the side.

    Interesting observation about the subs. I was happy with the subs yesterday, but its going to be tough for Dean with so much talent on the bench who think they should be playing.

    A word on ’80s day’. Which amounted to a couple of 80s records (no change there) and some dancers (who probably wernt born in the 80s) in 80s gear performing for the middle aged men in the paddock, who clearly enjoyed it according to Twitter. So what happened to the likes of Booker, Hurlock et al who were being so heavily advertised? Also I was at least hoping the food was at 80s prices!

    • nickbruzon January 14, 2018 at 9:48 am #

      Thanks BQ. The point about subs was more one of reacting to a game situation. Bolton mixed it up earlier and turned the screw as we sat still. But, we DID hold firm.
      Mepham was wonderful. Yoann is going to have to content himself as a full back now, I suspect.
      Re the 80’s day, I’m glad you’ve said this because I thought I was just imagining their apparent presence. Yet on entering The Griff at full time, there was Kammy reporting from Crystal Palace whilst Bob Booker seems to have been on holiday (per his Twitter).

      Looking back at official this morning, all the articles say: Bob Booker, Francis Joseph, Terry Hurlock, Chris Kamara… All of them played for us in the 80’s and we thought we’d celebrate them at our first Sky Bet Championship home game in 2018.

      So there you go. We all imagined it.

      I’ll leave comments on the dancers to the middle aged men on Twitter…..

  2. Rob January 14, 2018 at 10:41 am #

    Maybe DS has learnt that putting 3 subs on in and around the 60 min mark is not always necessary and not always going to improve matters. I can remember a few games when he’s pulled of a tiring Sergi for someone and the threat disappeared and we came under more pressure as the wing back was able to push forward more. As you say Nick, a manager is judged on results and he got one yesterday. Really pleased that Maupay was the recipient of a Canos cross cum shot as I do rate him and get the feeling things haven’t quite fallen for him. He almost tries too hard. Bees looking good and sitting pretty. Let’s see what happens regarding personnel changes. I for one wouldn’t be devastated if we sold a centre half in this transfer window because of Chris Mepham (as long as he’s not the one to leave!) He’s been excellent since the Boro game. He keeps it simple on the ball, has some pace sorely missing in the central position, wins the ball and can head it. I think he’s one of the best CB we’ve had for a while and he’s one of ours. The future looks bright again. If a decent offer comes in for Egan or Bjelland (as he’s the one out of contract soon) we should take it……IMHO and look for a qualify defensive midfielder and still potentially a striker. Let’s see what happens

    • nickbruzon January 14, 2018 at 10:45 am #

      Well called Rob. To those of us on the terrace, the emergence of Chris Mepham has been a true unexpected bonus and a wonderful option to have. He is fast becoming the bright star of the Brentford team.
      Here’s hoping for a ‘favourable/kind’ window….

      • Rob January 14, 2018 at 11:29 am #

        Oh dear….as I typed that out rumours of a bid from Reading on Barbet. Like BQ I’m also a fan of his and he wouldn’t be on my list of those surplus to requirements. Let’s hope the offer if true is filed in the b1n!

  3. Fran Carroll January 14, 2018 at 2:35 pm #

    Great piece Nick!!

  4. Luis Adriano January 15, 2018 at 8:10 am #

    Good discussion here after another decent day at the office for the Bees and at the keyboard for the lad Bryson.

    Glad ‘Moose’ was mentioned. Maybe not so much a case of out that in your pipe and smoke it, more put that in your pie and scoff it? I like to imagine him trying to backheel that one in where he would clearly slip and fall on his (ample) a*se.

    I’m a little out of shape post Xmas myself so not one to bang on about weight but one more point on it.

    We definitely are punching above ours. But so what? Doesn’t mean we can’t win the fight. Put said Moose and, say Ricky Heavens, in a boxing ring. Who is your money on? It’s not always about size (no jokes here thanks). Just as Heavens can represent the little ole Bees, Moose can rep, well, take your pick: The Massive Birmingham City still in the relegation places, the huge former European champions Nottingham Forest or even, judging my some ridiculous comment I saw in social media, Saturday’s big losers Bolton Wanderers. We need to just keep to our master plan. It is working for the size we are and where we find ourselves.

    Finally, the 80s theme. Alarm bells about the former players should have rang when Chris ‘see me in SkySports every f***ing Saturday’ was implied as a ‘guest. Others have commented on what did happen so yeah, let’s not say too much more.

    All in all, the picture painted was one that right now is a hell of a lot better than three decades ago.

    #COYB

  5. Luis Adriano January 15, 2018 at 8:11 am #

    Bryson? FS autocorrect! Obviously meant Bruzon (which this time just got changed Bruno).

  6. Luis Adriano January 15, 2018 at 8:13 am #

    Put rather then out too….
    Today’s lesson… don’t try typing much walking along in the pouring rain! I need to find an edit button!

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