Thomas has my vote as the stakes get ever higher.

12 Dec

Another game at Griffin Park, another win. Cardiff City the latest side to fall as Brentford picked up all three points in a 2-1 which, after seeming effortless and more a case of ‘how many?’, ended up being a bit of a nail biter as the visitors were allowed back into it courtesy of a quiet magnificent set piece routine. Credit where it is due. But with just about all other results going our way last night and everybody else drawing barring QPR who won at Birmingham City (that one really was Sophie’s Choice – other, cruder, metaphors may also apply) the gap to the play off places and Fulham in third – for now – got even tighter. With 21 games played, The Bees sit immediately outside the play-off zone and just two points behind the Cottagers.

It was a game which, as called in advance, featured the return of both Henrik Dalsgaard and Pontus Jansson. For the other nine it was the team which last ran out in from of the home fans  – ‘that’ scoreline against Luton Town – which started again. Meaning Ethan Pinnock retained his place alongside the enigmatic Swede rather than Julian Jeanvier. That said, JJ did put in an appearance in a late switch to three at the back that had Griffin Park gritting it’s collective teeth and all knowing ‘what happens’ when we move to last gasp defence. In this instance though, we held strong !

To be fair, it hadn’t felt remotely like getting to that buttock clenching stage for huge swathes of this one. Saïd and Mathias both coming close early with strong chances. How Jensen didn’t score remains a mystery, although Neil Etheridge in goal for the visitors will claim the credit as the midfielder found himself clean through but shot at the ‘keeper. 

It didn’t matter. With little over half the opening period gone, Saïd continued his one man torment of the Bluebirds and lined up Bryan Mbeumo for the opener. It had been coming all half in a game that was about as one way as they come. The Algerian working wonders and bamboozling defenders before cueing up his fellow wideman. 1-0. Game on, surely, game over ? Surely?

DSC06794

Goalscorer Mbeumo runs at Cardiff, again.

If there was any doubt it was put to bed immediately into the second period. Ollie Watkins glancing a header across the face of goal and past Etheridge. Whilst the cross had been delivered from the Braemar it was a move which had begun on the opposite flank, via the medium of a ….short corner. This is not a typo. This is not a drill. I repeat, a short corner. My word. One of them has actually worked. Of all the ironies and, perhaps, Brentford official did me a favour in electing not to print last night’s programme column (no idea, for those that asked but thank you) in which this most maligned of set pieces did get another mention.

We digress. With it, Ollie moves on up to 13 goals in the Championship charts. His strike made to look as effortless as any he has scored all season. It wasn’t, but that’s just how he rolls. Cool, calm and another one collected to add to his tally. That’s 3 behind Aleksandar Mitrovic at Fulham. If Saturday didn’t have enough frisson already, there is now an even more interesting sub-plot with this battle between two of the table’s top scorers.     

So that was it. Wasn’t it? 46 minutes gone. 2-0 Brentford. Cardiff not given a glance all game and the Bees still pushing. A home banker from this point onwards. Ah, if only football was that easy. We’ve all been here too many times to think there’s such a thing as a comfortable evening. Luton Town aside. Sure enough, we conspired to almost ‘do a Brentford’. Almost.

Referee John Brooks, so strong in the first half, suddenly went to ‘random mode’. It was as though he had been imbued with the spirit of Gavin Ward. The Bees sat back and Cardiff grew in confidence. Moreso after Marlon Pack absolutely leathered a free kick from distance just after the hour. The move had been a well worked one to stretch us but was then hit with all the accuracy and speed of a guided missile. David Raya had no chance. The away fans celebrated and the Bees wobbled. 

But if there was any doubt in the stands, there was none on pitch. Wave after wave of pressure was mopped up. The defence holding firm. The addition of Jeanvier not having the feared imbalance . Instead, we stayed tight. It wouldn’t have been my call, that’s for sure, but it’s why Thomas Frank is head coach and yours truly just writes nonsense in his spare time. It’s amazing to think about some of the ridiculous stick he was getting just a month or two ago. Just last weekend after the Sheffield Wednesday game. He’s a man with a plan and has his boys firing. Holding their nerve. Getting the win. Patience, and a bit of faith, people. It will be rewarded, as was proven last night.

Four minutes of additional time, stretched out by a head injury, were as angsty as they got but Cardiff shot themselves in the foot with a needless bit of foul play at the end and, with it, their moment was gone.  An oddly set up free kick, with the visitors not knowing whether to defend it or line up for a last gasp run at our goal, saw the clock run down. Brentford hung on to win a game that had felt so, so comfortable for so, so long. Neil Harris tasted defeat for the first time in his Bluebirds’ career. Brentford with another win under lights and with it the realisation that we only have two more ‘regular’ league games after dark  – the visits of Leeds United and West Brom. Enjoy these moments whilst you can.

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There aren’t many of these to go…

 At the end of the day, Clive, the result is the only thing that counts when the final tally is counted up. It’s another three points for The Bees. The table ever tighter at the top. Brentford knowing that a win against Fulham on Saturday will take us above our neighbours. Their own back to back defeats all helping the chasing pack. Not that we needed any extra incentive for this one but, my word, if ever we needed any extra incentive then here it is.

All that’s to come. For now, the highlights are up and we can all catch our breath. Until the weekend……

 

Nick Bruzon

7 Responses to “Thomas has my vote as the stakes get ever higher.”

  1. Rob December 12, 2019 at 9:04 am #

    Really strange match. Bees in total control against a poor Cardiff team. Should have had 4 in the first half, but got the one (beautiful move that one). However after we did score we switched off, became lethargic, almost insipid yet Cardiff could do nothing. Half time 1 – 0, myself and others around me calling for more intensity. Second half, 2-0, brilliant, we should go on an win comfortably. Cardiff need to open up and come at us and we love to play teams who open up…..but instead the intensity waned further, 5 yard passes were no longer going to feet, the energy of the press tapered off and we started getting deeper and deeper. 50 50 balls were being hoovered up by Cardiff, and this was before Cardiff reduced the arrears. There were 3 or 4 opportunities to clear the ball properly and we fluffed our lines. 2-1 And from there on in it was painful to watch. Even then we had a 5 on 3 overlap to put the game to be which we managed to squander. Not sure we gritted it out; more the opposition were too inept to capitalise.
    I don’t remember the last time we won a game and I’ve come away feeling concerned, nerves shot to pieces.
    I had to use the facilities after the match and it was like a morgue in there. One you lad, well into his 70’s called out to the Bees faithful “You’d think we just lost a game of footie…come on!” I kind of agreed, but had to say that for some time now, I’ve never seen a team in complete control, 2-0 to the good, fall apart as much as we did.

    So yep, totally agree with him, lets celebrate, admire where we are in the table, but this is why we are just out of the playoffs right now, we don’t seem to play for 90 mins and against better opposition that finds us out.

    And I apologise for the somewhat negative tone of this message but that was a disappointing conclusion to the game last night. Lets hope we have all the passion and intensity for 90+ mins on Sat.

    • David Carney December 12, 2019 at 11:39 am #

      I think you have forgotten some very important factors which impact on every teams performance during a match and from which Brentford are not immune.
      Firstly, the players are not robots, they are humans that are fallible and find it impossible to perform at 100% peak for 90+ minutes.
      Secondly, opposition teams are talented and skilful in the Championship and alter tactics during a game to counter strengths and weaknesses of the opposition.
      Thirdly, The Championship is a tough competition, very easy to exit at the bottom end and very difficult to succeed in elevation to the promised land of the Premier League at the top end.
      Fourthly, there are outside influences, such as refereeing (referred to by Nick in his post), injuries, etc, which have an impact during a game.
      There are still more variables, but the above is adequate for this post.
      The reason why Brentford are 7th is because of an indifferent start to the season. Since that time Brentford have consistently performed as a team in the top 6.
      There are 18 teams positioned below Brentford, so if you think Brentford are poor you must have a negative opinion view of those teams abilities.

      • Rob December 12, 2019 at 5:27 pm #

        I can only comment on what I saw yesterday, how a team playing with some panache and confidence suddenly looked disjointed and drained of energy when they should have enjoyed the space afforded them by a team chasing the game. It was very strange to me, and it wasn’t as if Cardiff improved dramatically; I was pretty disappointed by them to be honest…thankfully! It the was sloppiness, profligacy in possession and being beaten to the 50 / 50’s all of a sudden.
        Don’t think I’m knocking them overall. I’ve seen them play better and lost, and perhaps it’s a sign of a good team that can win when not at their best, but when we play with a tempo we look crisp and dangerous, when we slow it down even the basics seem to break down. I’m sure it will be a different story again against Fulham, even if they have an unfair advantage of an extra day to recover!

      • nickbruzon December 12, 2019 at 6:09 pm #

        Bingo!!!

  2. Martin west December 12, 2019 at 11:03 am #

    I agree with most of what you say Rob, what concerns me is overplaying at the back,putting team mates under pressure,we have to be more careful.not that I want to just lump it forward as Cardiff did 1st half and possession of the ball is key and building from the back is preferable,but a few times we were nearly caught out. Cardiff came more into the game by playing on the deck. The feeling of relief was tangible at the end. Our bench looks very inexperienced at the moment,need to get a couple back from loan and Halil in to lighten Ollie’s workload. A few minor tweaks and then we will have the most exciting squad we have ever assembled,never known such flowing football. If we can stop shooting ourselves in the foot in some games we will be fine, unfortunately there are always two teams out there and the others have plans of their own to thwart us..the old guy was right we won.keep it up BEES with a little less tension please

  3. Bob tate December 12, 2019 at 6:35 pm #

    Some people need a reality check, we were playing against a team that were in the premiership last season, a team that were above us in the league, a team that played a brand of football vinney Jones would be proud of. ( Rubbish ) Brentford must be playing an exciting style of football most bees fans have never seen before, a young team that make mistakes sometimes , but when they are firing on all cylinders are breathtaking,, ask Luton. The past 6 years have pretty much been the best of my 49yrs supporting the BEES .

  4. hobbo December 13, 2019 at 8:55 pm #

    I’m with you Bob (55 years)

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