What a difference 7(seven) days can make. Was this goal of the season?

28 Feb

Well, well, well. Wasn’t that the day? Brentford pulled the quintessential game of two halves out the bag to further tighten the screw on second place after a 2-1 win at home to Stoke City. It was a game with numerous highlights, and a few lowlights, but the standout moment being an absolute blockbuster of a goal from Vitaly Janelt. The midfielder leathering it from 25 yards out on the diagonal, hard and high into the top corner. It was a strike which reignited our fire in a game containing so many elements of classic 2020/21 Brentford. Yet with every other result going our way, it really was a quite wonderful Saturday. Watford losing to Bournemouth in a fixture which ended with more handbags than Victoria Beckham’s wardrobe was followed by Swansea City getting tonked at home by Bristol City, leaving the Bees three and four points clear of the Hornets and the Swans respectively. Plus, of course, infinitely superior goal difference. Granted the Welsh outfit still have two games in hand but compared to full time at St.Andrew, when they were one point behind with three games over us, things feel a touch less angsty.What a difference 7(seven) days can make! With Norwich City travelling to Wycombe Wanderers this lunchtime before hosting us midweek, the battle at the top of the Championship table is more alive than ever.

We can only start with Brentford, though. My word, even by our standards it was a horror show of a start. There was the classic ‘early goal’ conceded after an attempted pass out by David Raya went the same was as it did to gift Coventry their second goal last weekend. With less than thirty seconds on the clock and seemingly under no pressure, he rolled a clearance straight to Stoke City player  Tommy Smith who took the unselfish option and squared to Jacob Brown. There was no mistake with the simplest of finishes and that was it. 1-0 down. 

You do it to yourself, you do. And that’s what really hurts,” as popular music’s Radiohead once sang. It was almost a mirror image of last weekend and totally inexplicable. For what its worth, I think Raya is hands down, if not feet, the best in the division although one can only imagine some specific practice in training this week ! Let’s put this down to bad luck and get it behind us. Fast.

So there we were again. A goal down. A goal that, being honest, was as gifted as they come. Opponents who we then struggled to make any headway agasint. They bossed the midfield and pressed us hard. So hard. Brentford forced to go backwards and sideways with such regularity it was almost as though Thomas Frank had been possessed by the spirit of Marinus Dijkhuizen. Oh, this was tough. The Bees unable to make any headway, time and again attempting to play it through the eye of a needle in midfield before getting snuffed out. Stoke City physical, solid, determined. Expending so much energy that as the quite excellent Charlie MacDonald in the I-follow commentary box noted,’There’s no way they’ll be able to keep this up in the second half.’ My word, he was right.

Once again, Brentford came out flying. The change in approach, coupled with some tactical substitutions for the Stoke players who had already picked up bookings, was palpable. If ever the notion that football is a game of 90 minutes could be demonstrated then then here it was. With Stoke seemingly burnt out, the Bees were flying. Pressure built. The flanks were finally used. Mbeumo finding his feet. Within ten minutes, the scores levelled after that absolute blockbuster from Vitaly. Sh*t. Did you see that? He must have a foot like a traction engine. To coin a phrase. Goal of the season contender and then some. It was a moment to make us scream the house down. The neighbours thinking, well I don’t know what but, frankly, for a moment like this then who cares? It was incredible. A strike that warrants viewing after viewing after viewing. How do we find them? Hats off to our DOFS once more.

Stoke left dead on their feet – loved this one from ‘official’

Magnificent though the goal was, and it was, there was still a hell of a lot more to do. Swansea City were winning. We weren’t. Then the bench kicked in. Jensen and Canos both on. The tempo increasing. The Bees coming ever closer to what felt like it must be inevitable. On 77 minutes a very welcome return fro Christian Norgaard. The Dane replacing Janelt who left with his head held high. A first league start in an eternity and what a time for him to re-enter the fray. Within two minutes we were ahead. Yet another Brentford trend of the season, a goal for Ivan Toney. He got on the end of a ball from Mbeumo to guide it home for 2-1. A 25th of the league campaign and now six clear of Adam Armstrong in the race for the golden boot. Incredible. Just incredible. With 13 games left, what could he finish on? What records could he break?

Even better though. As we took the lead, so did Bristol City. And then they did it again. With our own game  steered safely home, the Robins delivered the ultimate of favours. Three points denied Swansea and a further goal difference shift in our favour. There’s still a hell of a long way to go on that front but compared to last Saturday lunchtime, things certainly heading in a much better direction. If nothing else, it was quite wonderful seeing our more excitable element discover that the Championship is decided on a season’s worth of results rather than a car crash at Coventry or a 7(seven) day blip. Not that I’m counting chickens here because I’m not. I’m as confident as I have been all season but, also, acutely aware that  football is football and Brentford is Brentford. Get complacent or arrogant and you get bitten on the arse. At the same time, the table doesn’t lie and I’d rather be sitting in our shoes than anybody else. Perhaps Norwich City aside. The trick now is to keep on turning that screw. Starting Wednesday at Carrow Road. Cripes, that’s going to be immense.

For now, though, its all about another wonderful team performance. At least, in the second half. I’m still not sure what caused the no-show in the first half but kudos to the Bees for hanging in there. Likewise to Stoke City for really making us work for it. In the end though, it was a game we grew in to. It was a game that never felt it would slip away the more it went on. The return of Norgaard about as big a boost as one could hope for. Likewise, the signing of Winston Reid looking as shrewd an acquisition as they come.

I don’t want to get overly carried away here. The Championship still has a huge distance to run and will have more shocks, twists and surprises for sure. Yesterday was a huge psychological boost for Brentford – and perhaps even some of our Twitter crew – on and off the pitch What a way to set up the Norwich City game. See you there. On the sofa. Until then, I might just go and watch that Janelt goal one more time.

Things I’d forgotten about. Could Norwich’s loss be our gain on Wednesday?

Nick Bruzon 

9 Responses to “What a difference 7(seven) days can make. Was this goal of the season?”

  1. HerzyBee February 28, 2021 at 9:18 am #

    Agree wholeheartedly Nick, my obs is that the blooper in the first minute aside, I think the game plan was to allow Stoke to punch themselves out, much as Wycombe, Bristol City, Bournemouth and others have done when not playing their ‘natural’ game. My main concern is the loss of Ricoh and his attacking prowess on the left, the support he provides to the forwards and his exceptional fitness, he is the best left wing half in the division. Mads Beck is a very good defender, but no replacement in the Ricoh role…..If the three defeats are our blip, then bring on the rest of the season……

    • Bernard Quackenbush (@BernardQuack) February 28, 2021 at 11:48 am #

      And here is a comment I agree with wholeheartedly. The Sorensen at left back is a disaster waiting to happen. Im still not sure whether he is a left back or 3rd central defender. When he should be looking forward, he turns back, allowing the opposition to close us down quicker, which leads to mistakes.

      But what a dilemma for Thomas. Vitaly or Christian, or both. Stick to 4-3-3 or adjust to 4-2-3-1. The Stoke midfield yesterday inevitably tired after their blistering start with 30 Something(s) Obi, who seems to sponsor Stoke on the iFollow and Joe Allon who must be 50 something since playing for the Bees. Then Vitaly stepped up, with the inspired Jensen & revitalised Ghoddos & it was like a midfield Shoppers Paradise

      • nickbruzon February 28, 2021 at 12:01 pm #

        Genuine question re Sorensen. Two wins from two in that position whilst he’ll never be Rico, but who could? Personally speaking, you can’t expect somebody to convert from CB to FB overnight , totally different and I’d agree with you that the potential for a mistake is there. As with anybody thrust into new role. Absolutely a fish out of water but what other option do we have? Today, BQ, YOU are the boss. Who would you play in that position against Norwich on Wednesday?

      • nickbruzon February 28, 2021 at 12:02 pm #

        PS. Kudos for ‘Midfield Shoppers Paradise’

      • HerzyBee February 28, 2021 at 11:37 pm #

        Of course, I wasn’t criticising Mads Beck, he’s primarily a CB, but that we are missing the attacking options Rico provides….. we can, and have done, played Tariq as a full back and wonder if he can play LWB…… Thomas Frank seemed to have been more flexible with team selections, and personnel ‘rotating/resting’ strategically, something we didn’t do last season. I have no stats to support my view that, going into the last third of the season, we have more first team players in the pool, with more pitch minutes, than last season. Which can only be a good thing for the final push. I may have missed the Rico Henry injury news, but has anyone any projection on how long he will be out?

  2. Rod Davidson February 28, 2021 at 10:22 am #

    Raya is still the best goalkeeper in the division – so we should forgive his recent blips.
    The first half was dire, but give credit to Thomas Frank and the rest of the team for turning it around.
    The subs when they came on upped the tempo and we looked very good once again. Perhaps now, we are more used to overcoming the negative tactics that some teams use against us.
    The increased number of allowed substitutes and their earlier intervention is something that can now work very well for us as we are coming out of our own injury downturn and our opponents are still suffering there’s.
    It will be a hard slog but the ingredients are all there for a very successful season.
    How Thomas Frank will juggle the pack, I don’t know but the team spirit is first class and they all deserve to be held in the highest regard for what they have achieved so far.
    Fingers crossed — COME ON BRENTFORD

  3. ROY 75 bee February 28, 2021 at 11:27 am #

    Love the win but watching the Bees is not good for the heart, still its always been like that, my heart has not given up after 75 years watching…come on you BEESSSSSS

  4. Ken luckett February 28, 2021 at 1:03 pm #

    I did ask a few weeks back if it was Brentford policy to give the other teams a goal start.It now appears that something like that is on the cards.on the other hand it may be a tactic no other manager has thought of. It doesn’t always work but on the whole so far it has bought in some good results. No tactic is foolproof.
    The other great ploy we have is to save the better football for the second half.there may be some mileage in this by having a half time entrance fee at double the price.
    All good fun as long as we finish above the rugby shirts from Shepherds Bush.

    • nickbruzon February 28, 2021 at 5:01 pm #

      Imagine. The tactical genius….!!! Matthew Benham and the team continue to break boundaries

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