Magnificent. Rivals thumped, humped and spanked as top of the table tightens.

15 Dec

Well that was just stunning. Another home win as Brentford beat Fulham – yet again – on Saturday to go fourth in the Championship table. It was as comfortable a 1-0 as you could hope to see. The visitor’s goalmouth leading a charmed life with the Bees hitting the woodwork three times. There’s only Preston, Leeds United (who gave an intriguing reminder of their annual ability to fall apart) and then table toppers West Bromwich Albion (also derby winners as they came from behind against Birmingham City to render Harlee Dean’s goal meaningless) above us. 

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Another wonderful win under the lights

With Barnsley hammering qpr 5-3, it was just about the perfect day of results for Brentford fans. The chief of which was, of course, at Griffin Park. In truth it never felt in doubt, the first twenty minutes aside. Fulham starting in the ascendency. Brentford dropping passes short, having no luck with the bounce of the ball and just feeling second to everything. It was a brief fancy. A posing concern that vanished as quickly as it had arrived. Fulham had their moment, even hit the post at one point (albeit David Raya had the shot covered) and then the Bees stepped it up. My word did we step it up.

Thomas Frank would talk at full time about his pre-match message to the players, “One thing. Out run them. When you feel the pain, run again.” The tactic was simple. Keep moving. Keep running. You will win. And sure enough, we did. Bryan Mbeumo got the goal that silenced the visitors and gave us the lead. Saïd Benrahma with the cross from the right although Thomas was as quick to praise Ollie for his tireless work. Not just in the move that saw Mbeumo fire home but throughout the game.

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View from the Braemar – Bryan celebrates his goal

With fans on their feet, voices raised and smiles broad (that was just Peter Gilham) we pushed on. How Ollie didn’t score I have no idea as the post came to Fulham’s rescue. It was one of those which, watching it live, had seemed as though it was just a case of waiting for the ball to hit the back of the net. Alas, not.

Next up, Pontus Jansson just before half time. The woodwork once again coming to Fulham’s rescue in front of their supporters. Apparently – I’d been dragged to the forecourt at that point by a boy in need of a hot chocolate and a wee. The spirit of BBC Billy Reeves still alive and kicking.

It could have been 2 or 3 as the players trooped in for their break but, frankly, we were winning. Forty-five minutes away from another win and a move into the play-off zone. Each and every one of us would have taken that if made the proverbial offer before kick off.

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Watching on as Pontus hits the post.

Back out and it was more of the same. Brentford tireless. Indefatigable. Unceasing in the hunt for a goal which would have secured the points. More importantly, sparing the heart conditions of more than a few people sitting around us in the Braemar. As stress levels built, Mathias Jensen did it. Yessssss. 2-0 !!!! Nooooo!! Somehow it hadn’t gone in, despite bouncing off the inside of the post, across the goal and surely over the line. Surely? 

I’m still convinced it was in but the reaction of the players and the straight back to action for them tells us that, perhaps, one of those we need to chalk up to optical illusion. Instead, it was a case of calm heads and keep on going. There was nothing to worry about. My word, the stakes were high. The desire to win second to none. I’ve not felt the ground like this in a while. The awareness of what a win meant, clear to all.

Brentford of old a team that, we all know, would have played this well and created that many chances only to see a freak goal bounce in off Alexander Orlov’s arse in the final seconds. But not this side.

Thomas Frank has instilled confidence. Pontus Jansson a colossus. Mathias Jensen pulling the strings in the middle. Rico and Henrik never stopping. Ethan Pinnock making that second centre back berth his own. Everybody playing their part. The team spirit, the smiles to each other. The handshakes and the all round camaraderie clear for all. These boys would lay down their lives for each other if it meant stopping goal going in. The post-match walk around the pitch once more a sign of how happy everything is in the camp. 

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Full time celebrations

And so rather than panic, it was more a case of running out those last three minutes of added on time. Then celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup. Yes, there really was a Leyton Orient away feel to this one. I’ll take your words and recycle them Mr. Slade. I’m not proud. But in terms of significant moments, that could be about as huge as they come.

Of course , there’s a hell of a long way to go but now we are in the top six, this is ours to claim. Ours to keep on making progress. Ours to look next at hunting down West Bromwich Albion and Leeds United. Whilst both seem well, well clear at the top we all know what Leeds do so well. Yesterday was another fine example as a 3-0 lead at home to Cardiff City ended in a 3-3 come back by the visitors. And that, with a man sent off. Could it happen again or will it be a blip….? They visit Fulham next Saturday so either way, something else has to give from the teams around us.

As for Brentford, our next action is the trip to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. The league leaders. The conquerors of Birmingham City (although that’s no major achievement these days, such is the state of a Blues team who are less ten times better and more starting to look over their shoulders where the gap from 16th to the relegation slots isn’t that far off).

It is about as tough as they come. On paper. We’ve all seen how solid West Brom are. How Romaine Sawyers has taken his game to the next level since leaving Griffin Park. And he was already firing then. But Brentford are no slouches either. Only Leeds United have a tighter defence, as it stands, and 3 of their 13 conceded came in yesterday’s Cardiff debacle. But Brentford are only on 17 against. That’s almost half the total from this time last year, if memory serves. With the goals flying in at the other end, we’re worth an extra point on GD alone.

The trip to the Hawthorns looks likes it’s going to be an absolute cracker. For now, though, let’s relax in the present and enjoy this moment. Thomas – thank you. 

What an afternoon. What a performance. What a way to head towards Christmas. As one New Road observer put it in the pub afterwards, “That was a pleasant surprise”

For me, it was very, very pleasant. But no surprise. Fulham got just what was coming to them. Brentford delivering another Christmas gift to the fans. Now bring on The Baggies.

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None shall pass

Nick Bruzon

7 Responses to “Magnificent. Rivals thumped, humped and spanked as top of the table tightens.”

  1. Brighton Bee December 15, 2019 at 9:55 am #

    An excellent day yesterday, a fantastic all round team performance. It was a shame we had only one goal to show for it as that one goal did not show how dominant we were throughout almost all of the 90 minutes. Although there were many contenders yesterday, my MOTM was Mokoto, he was absolutely everywhere, breaking up play and setting up movement, his best game of the season by far. I don’t think there is any reason why we should not go to WBA next week and get a result. One final point, a real contentious issue for me – we are doing all this the right way ie all the players on the pitch are our own players, we are not what others are doing (WBA & Leeds for example) by what I consider “cheating” ie parachuting PL players in on loan to make up for their own ineffective and lazy recruitment processes!!

    • David Carney December 15, 2019 at 10:34 am #

      Leeds have no parachute payments because they were last in the Premier League in 2003/4 season. Leeds, like Brentford, have risen from League 1 in their pursuit of Premiership football. It is difficult to justify accusing the two clubs sitting in places 1 and 2 of having lazy recruitment policies.
      Let’s not forget Brentford have been frequent users of Loan players in recent years – Dean, Forshaw, Trotta and Bidwell to name just a few who helped the building process in getting promotion to the Championship. Also, Brentford use the Loan Player process for developing players currently like Marcondes, Forss, Shaibu, Carroll, Cole and probably more in the new year, so lets not suggest abandoning an effective system that has and is being utilised regularly to good effect by Brentford.
      The purpose of parachute payments is very logical and saves clubs from financial chaos following relegation, but that is an entirely different discussion to the matter of the Loan Player strategy used by most clubs.

  2. Rod Davidson December 15, 2019 at 10:40 am #

    That was excellent wasn’t it.
    The atmosphere generated in the ground showed that the supporters realise we have something special going on here.
    This team is improving all the time with the levels of commitment outstanding.

  3. Spanish Bee December 15, 2019 at 11:39 am #

    “…a boy in need of a hot chocolate and a wee”. Wee and hot chocolate surely.

  4. John December 15, 2019 at 12:28 pm #

    That was magnificent yesterday. Usually when it is 1-0 the clock seems to stop but we were in so much control it was never in doubt. Would love to know how many times Mitrovic touched the ball, at a guess I would say 6? I think every player was superb and hardly a pass out of place after first 20 mins. Even when Fulham brought their subs on and you thought it might be trouble they hardly got involved. We have such a good first eleven but the bench still needs an attacking option. Hopefully Valencia is back soon, Canos in time, but I would love to see Forss return in January and definitely no sales!! Benrahma has s any skills, only criticism is he needs to be more aware of what is around him especially with overlaps. Having said that his play for the goal was faultless. 4 big games over Christmas and New Year, 3 of which away. Lets hope our form continues and we can make ground on Leeds, who are good, but we know we are better!!!

  5. Martin December 15, 2019 at 1:28 pm #

    Hats off to Thomas Frank. For most of the 1st half Fulham looked to be what they are: a very good Championship team. But they did look vulnerable to the counter, and we set up to play lightning fast counter-attacking football, and should have scored more than one. In the second half we stepped up and won the ball a lot higher up the pitch: tactics that seemed to catch them out, rendering their apparent instruction to shoot on sight pretty irrelevant, as we did largely took over, despite the resources they could bring off the bench.

  6. Paul Glassup December 15, 2019 at 6:12 pm #

    Superb article, thank you Nick. What an incredible afternoon at Griffin Park that was, our team were superb, I couldn’t have singled one out for MoM, they all deserved it. The crowd were amazing too, an afternoon that I will remember for a very long time!! Bring on The Baggies!

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