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A very beautiful, ugly win. They all count though.

13 Mar

Well, well, well. I’d open with a comment on our league position but fear some of us might get upset. DM’s are open hun. Hope all is ok. Instead, let’s look at the result. Brentford beating Blackburn Rovers 1-0 on a Friday night capped with another ice-cool penalty finish from Ivan Toney. A game in which we dodged more than a few bullets, no question, but perhaps could have scored more ourself. A game marred by a horrific looking injury to Bradley Dack after the Rovers’ man almost caught David Raya cold when going for an opportunistic steal. You could see the upset on Tony Mowbray’s face, obliged to talk to Sky at full time when it was clear his mind was only on his player. A game where there was no irony lost in the fact our winner came from the penalty spot whilst, being honest, our hosts  should have had one of their own awarded following a clumsy challenge by Mads Bech Sørensen on Ryan Nyambe. I’ve seen them given, Clive, and that was definitely one that got away. Given the run of ropey spot kick decisions enjoyed by Swansea City in recent weeks, perhaps it was time one went our way. No matter how harsh it was on the opposition. With the Swans at Luton this afternoon and Cardiff City knowing that defeat of Watford could see them enter the play-off positions, it’s all set for an intriguing Saturday.

First up though, events at Ewood Park. The excitement was palpable from prior to kick off with the selection of both Christian Nørgaard AND Vitaly Janelt in midfield. Finally. The moment we’d all been waiting and my word, wasn’t the return of our great Dane a joy to behold? He was magnificent from the off. Janelt likewise. The question of whether they could play together answered in emphatic style with attack broken down and passes being pinged forward with abandon. Widemen Fosu and Mbeumo playing just as fluently to take the game by the scruff of the neck. The former earning the spot kick after racing a beautiful pass from the ever creative Toney and being felled in the box. Up walked Ivan with his trademark approach. His trademark precision. His trademark goal. 1-0 up and only ten minutes gone.

No words needed

Brentford pushed on and pushed up. Possession dominated. Janelt and Jensen with the best of the follow up chances. The game in control but the knowledge that we’ve seen so many of these lost in the past always at the back of the mind. A second half that could have seen it go ether way. One finger tip save from Raya denying Dack when it seemed the ball would surely sneak inside the far post. Ivan Toney with a wonderful effort from just inside the Rovers half almost saw goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski lobbed when off his line. Substitute Sergi Canos unleashing a piledriver within moments of coming on that Kaminski did well to turn away. Marcus Forss perhaps guilty of missing the chance to put the game to bed and avoid us enduring those painful last few minutes of squeaky bum time. That’s before we mention the two penalty shouts for Rovers.

Mads has been very, very lucky. I’m still not sure how it wasn’t given but, you know what, I’ll take the decision. No matter how hard done by Blackburn will surely feel. Match referee Geoff Eltringham at his most random. Just as we’ve said Swansea would, obviously, accept everything that has gone their way in recent games of course we’d do the same. Move along. Nothing to see here. As for the Dack shout, I’m not so sure that was as cast iron as our opposition make out. It almost seems a secondary discussion given the injury suffered in the subsequent coming together. What seemed innocuous as it happened soon became clear to be anything but. The Blackburn manager confirming at full time that Dack was in a bad way with suspected cruciate ligament damage. Sometimes, our beautiful game can be anything but. Moreso given the same player had only just returned in December from a similar injury. Kudos to Tony Mowbray for keeping it together with a camera shoved in his face. He clearly wanted be anywhere but there and his words really emphasised the bond shared with his players.      

For Brentford, three points earned. The sort of game that could have been an absolute potato skin has ended with all three points coming back to West London. The return of Christian Nørgaard something that cannot be under estimated. Cannot be lauded sufficiently. He, Vitaly and Ivan were immense. They all were though. Winston Reid and Henrik Dalsgaard brutally tough. A rock solid Bees team able to call on both strength and skill. No pushovers. The top end of the table calling. A trip to Wayne Rooney’s Derby County on Tuesday night and then Nottingham Forest visit next weekend before international ‘break’. Let’s just keep Christian away from the Denmark squad, this time.

The rest of the weekend fixtures start to play out at lunchtime. Luton  – Swansea is first up at 12.15pm with Watford going in the traditional 3pm slot. Any favours grateful accepted. None expected. This promotion race will go all the way to the line. Brentford are currently in second place. That’s a fact and certainly nothing to be ashamed about. Here’s hoping we’re still there after game 46. If we can achieve what Thomas Frank described at full time as “A very beautiful, ugly win” then anything is possible. Starting at Derby…..

Nick Bruzon 

The end is nigh…

12 Mar

Brentford travel to Blackburn Rovers tonight. We all know the shape of the league table. We all know that the result will only be one step on the way to deciding which team joins Norwich City in the Premier League. Us, Watford, Swansea City or perhaps a surge up the blindside by one of the other contenders now putting a run together. Fingers crossed for the right result, obviously. Goal difference means that should we pick up all three points tonight, we will go ahead of the second placed Hornets on level games. They then travel to Cardiff City tomorrow whilst the Swans face the prospect of a trip to Luton. No doubt hoping Andre Ayew (pen) will keep up his current hot streak of converting dubiously awarded spot kicks. Whatever the methodology in Steve Cooper’s team being given these things, there’s no doubting Ayew’s precision from the spot. Sadly. 

Still, we’ve done all this to death in the last week or so. Brentford have had some rare ‘down time’ with the Rotherham game being postponed due to the hosts Covid results last Friday. It has been our first stretch without a midweek game in I don’t know how long. The backlog of league fixtures and our run to the semi finals of the League cup making it as relentless a season as has ever been experienced. Now, we are in to the final 12 games of the campaign. The regular campaign, that is. The reward for coming out on top in these will be indescribable. The agony of the play-off roulette wheel nothing any of the teams in the mix will want to go through. The three of us, at the very least, will have their eyes and expectations on securing that second place spot. This really is going to be high stakes stuff with those that miss out on automatic facing the prospect of the W place in North London. And whilst we’re not in the ‘must win’ game category yet, you can be sure every point won or lost is going to be scrutinised as we get closer and closer to the line.

Here’s hoping the unexpected break has helped our knackered legs. Blackburn played midweek and got a draw at Ewood Park. They were even winning until they were adjudged to have conceded a penalty which etc etc etc. Deja vu and all that. We’ve got no new injury concerns as far as I am aware – just the ongoing ones – and, of course, none other than Geoff Eltringham at the helm. I’d say ‘in charge’ but, you know.. The amount of times we’ve crossed swords with him a source of ongoing frustration. Stoke away, last season, just one of the many horror showings. Fingers crossed for a more measured approach tonight. There has already been enough refereeing based interference at the top of the table in recent weeks for him to add to that sh*t show.

Thanks, Geoff. One of the many.

Whichever way it goes, kick off is 7.45pm this evening. Sky have the game and, as Thomas said in his own press conference to the the build up “The biggest task for me, and the staff, and the players is to keep all the noise away so we can simply focus on training well today and playing well tomorrow. If you think too far ahead you don’t focus on what you can affect. The only thing we are focussing on is how we can perform best tomorrow.”   No bad thing. Thankfully they don’t read this. Hopefully, they pay little attention to social media. One game at a time and all that is the obvious mantra, even if it is tempting to look ahead and around.

Other news from yesterday saw Ivan Toney being nominated for manager fo the month alongside Teemu Pukki. Somebody at the EFL Twitter missing out on the ‘proof reading’ option before pressing publish. Of course, it transpired he had been nominated for player of the month (although at least the FrankOut brigade would have been happy for a while). An award which has this morning been announced as going to the Norwich City man. Well played Pukki. He’s a machine.

Also this week the kids have returned to school. Thank goodness. The brand of home-teaching in our house as dodgy as a Swansea penalty award but that’s all over now. The teaching, I mean. Instead, the school run is back on and it is one which takes us past Griffin Park. A place I still cast a wistful eye towards every time. So many memories. So much time spent and emotional investment poured into the famous old ground. Now, it has a new occupant. A mechanical digger. There it was on the forecourt yesterday, doing something to the ground side turnstile entrance gates on Braemar Road. It would seem the inevitable is definitely now underway.

Here’s hoping the only demolition work we’re talking about tomorrow is a job done on Blackburn. See you there. Metaphorically speaking. Confined to barracks once more. Joy. 

Sad times at Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon

Sergi does it in style and Thomas speaks out as Brentford open the doors.

6 Dec

What’s that noise? The sound of tunes being changed? What’s that smell? The stench of flagrant hypocrisy. The ongoing bullying, and there is no other word, of Sergi Canos by a group on social media replaced by praise of the highest order after a quite stunning performance and goal for Brentford against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday afternoon. Sorry to start here. We should be focussing on the brilliance of a first game at Lionel Road for our fans and the prospect of doing it all again on Wednesday night against Wayne Rooney’s Derby County. Themselves, visitors likely to get a warmer reception (at least pre kick off) following the bullsh*t at Millwall yesterday. Yet the internet trolls (see also: Frank Out) have been on it all season and it stinks. We talk about being fans. About mental health – hey, players are as human and fragile as the rest of us. How do YOU know what’s going on in their head? How do you genuinely think that tagging players and messaging them to drip more poison in any way helps? Of course we‘ve got a right to have an opinion. To criticise a team selection. To offer up our own game plan and strategy. What stinks is what has felt like an ongoing and lemming like bullying campaign from keyboard warriors who wouldn’t have the balls to say any of this to anyones face.

For me, being a fan is about showing support. About showing faith. About not launching into one player when he has, in your opinion, an off day. About not jumping on a bandwagon because its the ‘cool’ thing to do. About knowing that recovery from horrific injury is a long term process. About recognising that, actually, we are a team and that aside from being wrong ( for more than one reason) picking on one player is hardly going to help anyone. Call me a n*nce, happy clapper, whatever. Tell us ‘don’t defend him’. Personally, I don’t give a monkey. I make no apologies for supporting my team and our heroes. I’m not blinkered. We recognise poor performances but what we don’t do, at least in our house, is round on our team. Blame every perceived ‘failure’ at the door of one man.

Cripes, you could see what that meant to Sergi yesterday. The tears in his celebration. You could see Thomas Frank fuming, too. He came out fighting at full time to defend his own tactics after Jacob Davenport had rescued an 87th minute equaliser for a Blackburn team who had been playing with ten men for close to an hour. This, following a straight red for Darragh Lenihan had let Brentford back into the game on 36 minutes. His foul on Ivan Toney being deemed sufficient for the player to be invited to leave the field of play. Toney, the Championship’s leading scorer, made no mistake from the spot. Once again his balls of steel walk up culminating in a strike that was as accurate as it was powerful. 

Red seemed harsh but no mistake made from the spot

By this point we had already gone a goal down. Blackburn came out charging and, perhaps sensing the emotion of the day, brought the game to us. It worked. Despite Dalsgaard returning for Fosu to give a more orthodox full back option, our normally impenetrable defence lasted less than twenty minutes. Joe Rothwell waltzing through a series of pirouettes and half arsed challenges.  

Rather than anyone attempting to put in an actual tackle he was given the freedom of Lionel Road before firing home from the edge of the box. 1-0. Deserved. But it woke us from our slumbers. With Sergi puling strings in a front three made up of him, Ivan and Marcus Forss it only felt like a matter of time before we would be level. Sure enough, we were.

Yet if the build up and first half had got the juices flowing, it was nothing compared to the second. Roared on by Peter Gilham, the players came out and kicked on from where they’d left off. The inevitable goal coming from Sergi on the hour. Cutting down the left he stepped into the box, dodging defenders before unleashing an absolute piledriver into the top corner. The Blackburn ‘keeper left no chance. The tears flowing. And that was just from our family ! What a strike. What a way to answer those with nothing good to say. What. A.Goal !! It put one in mind of his effort at Reading away a few years back. It was that good. Bravo, Sergi. Bravo.

It should have been put to bed from there. Blackburn offered nothing. Making no attempt to break and set up to snuff out any further damage. The much touted Adam Armstrong was subbed off, leaving Ivan a clear run to go ahead in the top scorer charts. Yet, instead, we ‘did a Brentford’. D’oh ! 

87 minutes gone and another defensive malfunction allowed Jacob Davenport room to wriggle though and bury it. Urghh. And with that, there was to be no more. Five minutes of injury time, most of which were wasted by the visitors’ ‘keeper, saw us unable to get the fairytale winner. Instead, Brentford having to be content with making it nine unbeaten and still in the top six. Of picking up a ‘mere’ ten points from the last four games which included two midweek trips to Yorkshire and a local derby.

The other talking point was substitutions. We’ve been saying on these pages all season that changes will be made. Either in the starting XI or off the bench. Now offered the chance to make five switches per game, Thomas Frank has absolutely taken that opportunity. Yesterday was no different. Did it change the course of the game? Probably, although we still had enough to wrap up the win and by his own admission we should have gone for more at 2-1. Thomas reflecting at full time that we should have made more forward passes (a real life case of ‘Push up, Brentford’, perhaps?) ”After the 2-1 goal of course we need to win because they didn’t want to come forward so it was only about us making a mistake and unfortunately that happened”.

That’s football. As a fan, ‘disappointing’ didn’t even begin to cut it. Talk about seeing the wind taken form our sails. Ecstasy replaced by agony. Yet as we always say, no team has a divine right to win every game. Sometimes we cruise home by a mile. At others we hang on and fall over the line. Cripes, we’re still up there fighting and just four points off the top of the table. Hardly a case of ‘Frank Out’.

Should we have won? Yes. Did we deserve to? No. Each team scored two goals. That’s how football works. Chances count for naff all. Did the subs affect the team balance? Probably. But that’s the nature of this season which is a marathon crammed into a sprint period. We’ve made changes. We have our squad intact for Derby County on Wednesday. Others are going to do the same. Managers have no choice. On that, Thomas was quite clear. Unequivocally so.

If you asked me if I wanted to make five substitutions if it was the World Cup final tonight then I wouldn’t, probably not…but we have 30 more World Cup finals to play in the most compact programme ever and if people don’t understand that we can’t play every single player for 90 minutes in 46 games then they need to start studying a little bit about science and fatigue, mental freshness and how you use that. So, if you ask me if I would do it again? 

ONE.. HUNDRED.. PERCENT.

Do I like it as a supporter? Well, its not what I’m used to that’s for sure. But we’ve also got a great squad. Blame the defence for having a moment if you must but why not lambast the attackers for failing to put this one to bed? Tarique Fosu came on for Sergi. Mbeumo for Forss. These are great players and very much the heroes of our Twitter crew. Yet they couldn’t wrap it up. That’s not to knock either player btw. We were up against a resolute Blackburn side who hung in, absorbed damage and caught us on the break. It finished 2-2. That’s football. The important question now being how we can bounce back against Wayne Rooney’s Derby County in midweek.

I’ve got a feeling that one’s going to be and absolute cracker. Being part of the Lionel Road crowd was a huge honour.  Our new home is everything it has been bigged up to be and more. Great sightlines, close to the pitch and a truly fantastic atmosphere. Griffin Park at night, under floodlights, was always special. Imagine that on Wednesday? Two thousand made some noise in the dusk. It’s going to be even louder when Derby visit.

It won’t be easy, either. They finally climbed off the bottom of the table after winning 1-0 at Millwall in a game ruined before kick off by the moronic booing of the players supporting racial equality. Something as awful as the club’s complete silence on the matter. If only their fans could have adopted the same tone. There aren’t sufficient words. Pathetic justification of not bringing politics into football no defence. This is not support of  what many feel is some quasi-marxist movement. This is support of players. Of showing we feel there is no room for racial injustice or discrimination. And if you think that’s wrong then f*ck off. Football has come so far, in places, except it would seem at the den.

So Derby County were riled. They got their win in a game where the closest the the home team’s match report would get was to note that,  “Roared on by 2,000 fans – and what a great sight it was – the game got underway “. Hmmm. What a way to welcome fans back in. What a way to represent yourselves. Perhaps the only saving grace here being that with only two thousand present it will be easier for any identification to take place. But I doubt that’ll happen.

Instead, Wayne Rooney and his Rams will find things much more welcoming at Lionel Road on Wednesday. At least, before kick off. Once that whistle blows, give them hell. I’d love to be a part of it once more. For those getting their turn next up, ENJOY.  

Until then, perhaps one more time from Sergi….

What an afternoon it was. Welcome to the future. Welcome home.

Well played, Sergi.

Nick Bruzon

Finally. The chance to see our new home for real. Lionel Road awaits.

5 Dec

Corona Virus restrictions. With the exception of ‘Rail Replacement Bus’, you’d be doing well to find three more depressing words in the English language. Yet today there’s a light through the gloom. For the first time since the 5-0 tanking of Sheffield Wednesday back in March, Brentford fans have the opportunity to see a game for real. Moreso, a first chance to do so at our new home. Lionel Road prepares to welcome fans for the visit of Blackburn Rovers this afternoon. I promised myself I wouldn’t overly bang on about it but to say we’re excited doesn’t even begin to cut the mustard. Like flicking on to a random episode of The Simpsons and discovering its the one with the Springfield Monorail. Yessss!! 

Not ‘that’ monorail

To date, the most to see a game at Lionel Road have been the smattering of club representatives, journalists, photographers and our 200+ directors that were on hand to roar the Bees on against Quarter Pound of Rubbish. Oh, Warbs. I’m still laughing about that one. And if you’d like to read more, today’s ‘Bees Blog’ in the matchday programme will (I hope) cover that one off. #shamelessplug. To those, we can now add the 2,000 supporters who were the first invited in as part of the Season Ticket rotation and, it has to be said, anticipation is rife. 

For me, Clive, the uniqueness of the occasion aside it gives an opportunity to really try and assert some form of home advantage. We’ve already heard Peter Gilham, the directors and Cliff Crown roaring Brentford on. Having those extra voices sure to motivate the players once more. How much of a difference will supporters make?

And what a time for this to happen. Blackburn Rovers are top of the Championship goalscoring charts. Adam Armstrong the division’s highest individual contributor with 14. Let’s not forget Ivan Toney though. As if we could. With our own man tucked in right behind on 13 goals, it has all the makings of a promotion chasing shootout. Rovers sit two points outside the top six. Brentford knowing that a win would take us to within a point of first placed Bournemouth (subject to other results). Frank out indeed. They’ve all gone very quiet – insert Picard graphic. Every voice will count. Every motivational cheer and extra bit of backing for the Bees a chance to finally remind ourselves that it is an actual advantage to be playing at home – albeit, of course, we’ll all be following the officially published Covid guidelines which, understandably, come with the contractual obligation to remind supporters: “Please avoid excessive singing, shouting and cheering.” Good luck there. The same goes for all clubs, btw.

Frank Out… ??!! Where have they all gone?

Recent form has really gone to plan. Thomas Frank hasn’t been afraid to mix his team up and bring in plans B and C. The step up in the game against the Loftus Road mob when we employed the three centre back option for the second half worked brilliantly. This time 🙂 . His use of Toney and Forss at Rotherham United on Tuesday night seeing each player end up on the scoresheet. The temptation to go again must be immense. But with our defence stronger than the Rock Of Gibraltar (only three goals conceded in the last eight games) and Vitaly Janelt once again proving that the Brentford recruitment model is light years ahead of just about every club in English football, why not?

Now, Brentford are breathing down the necks of Bournemouth and Norwich City in automatic positions. The later probably expecting to breeze past Luton Town midweek but, instead, fatally holed below the waterline at a Kenilworth Road that saw supporters present. The cat that got the canary. Mind you, going by the state of their former mascot  – frankly, terrifying – the Hatters would be doing well to bring him back out of retirement. If we’re looking at clubs making any form of home advantage count then how about starting right there? Kenilworth cat up there with Kingsley, Boiler man and Buzzette in the all time great mascots.

Kenilworth Cat – back in the day Luton very much had a rabid beast

Ah, Buzzette. Another reason to be grateful for our return to live action. John Travolta in a furry suit. 70’s John Travolta, I mean. Those funky dance moves have been sorely missed whilst we’ve been locked out. Unlike the Gunnersaurus saga over at the Emirates (remember that from the surreal heights of football lockdown?), Brentford have made if quite public that we’re sticking with our anthropomorphic crowd pleaser. Let’s hope that along with Buzz she’s back out there doing her thing this afternoon.

Yes, we are going. It IS exciting and I get that not everybody is allowed in first time out. It’s a huge shame from that respect and we’re feeling truly privileged to be part of that initial group going in. I promised myself I wouldn’t overly bang on when we were let back in. Cripes, it only seems like five minutes ago that every man Jack and Harry was telling us from their seats in the ground how amazing it was. How incredible. Hardly a day went past without seeing somebody else in there, banging on about how incredible OUR home was. All whilst we were confined to barracks. It hurt, a lot. I remember my own frustration well. Perhaps it will be even tougher for those fans who haven’t been given the chance this afternoon. Social media sure to be awash with photos and comments. Those obliged to wait until the visit of Wayne Rooney’s Derby County or beyond missing out on today and having to wait whilst that anticipation builds even further.

It will be tough for them, no question. It’ll be amazing for us, I hope. Yet at the same time whenever you get your place on the ST rotation train, it won’t feel properly proper until we are all allowed in together. Until we can have a beer with our friends. Until we can all cheer, en-masse. Until the place is sold out our rather than operating at 11% capacity (15% if you include the massed ranks of our directors). That’s not to say we can’t wait for this afternoon. Only a liar would pretend otherwise.

Finally, for the first time in 9 months, I can dig out the old refrain. Roll on 3pm. See you there !

I can’t wait to see these two again

Nick Bruzon

With the terrace talk about Terrace Talk, it’s another point in awful conditions.

23 Feb

Another game unbeaten. Another game that Brentford fans may feel we should have won but, in the end, will be happy to have taken a point against a Blackburn Rovers team with their own promotion aspirations. A 2-2 draw played out in gale force conditions, alongside Fulham’s Friday night draw and a 0-0 for Nottingham Forest means we stay fourth. Leeds United won – fair play to them – as that once colossal gap to second place is still a very catchable six points. With the Bees next up before the teams directly above us play again (we’ve a visit to Luton Town on Tuesday before Fulham host Swansea and Leeds travel to Middlesbrough on Wednesday), the chance to apply further immediate pressure lies very much in our own hands.

DSC07061

It’s up there, somewhere. Conditions were tough at gusty Griffin Park.

It was an absolute corker of a Griffin Park. Despite Blackburn playing with that howling wind at their backs in the first half, Brentford were the ones applying the early pressure. Right up until the exact moment that Rovers’ goalkeeper Christian Walton played a long, long ball up pitch and as it caught the breeze, Ethan Pinnock lost it in the air. There was Adam Armstrong to drift it over David Raya with a perfectly placed lob. The ball seemed to float over him in almost slow-motion with nothing the Spaniard, or anybody watching, could do to stop it hitting the back of the net.

Noooooooooooooooooo. 0-1 and Blackburn most definitely not reading the script. With the wind now behind the visitors and very much taken out of our sails, the rest of the first-half meandered way into nothingness. I’m struggling to recall much more in terms of incident. Still, there was always the second period to come…..

Urghh. 0-2 Rovers. With less than an hour gone, referee Tim Robinson pointed to the spot after Raya won the ball but continued his movement into somebody. Gut feeling at the time was that it was soft but legitimate. We’ve all seen them given etc. That man Armstrong made no mistake and Blackburn were home. The play-offs beckoning.

Except, they weren’t. Just minutes later Ollie Watkins had halved the deficit with an absolute howitzer of a shot. This time it was Dalsgaard who used the conditions to our advantage as his own pass through the eye of the storm was perfectly judged by the free scoring front man. Playing the offside trap to perfection, he brought it down and then leathered one from distance that swerved into the top corner and sent the home fans wild. My word, what a strike. It was as much about the timing, control and preparation as it was the finish. Hats off, Ollie. 

The crowd buoyant and Brentford inspired, we kicked on. Shandon Baptise and Mads Roerslev having come on from the bench both impressed. Should Mathias Jensen still be missing for the Luton game, I can only imagine it will be the new signing from Oxford who starts that one rather than Emiliano Marcondes. Yet it was Roerslev who was the real revelation down the right, as the Brentford player machine looks like it has spat out another winner from the B-team.

Boom. Felled in the box (apparently – move along, nothing to see here) it presented the opportunity for Benrahma to level things. There was no mistake from the spot and with 20 minutes left, there was only one team in it. 

DSC07037

Saaaiiiiiiddddd!! 2-2 from the spot

Brentford pushed, poked, and tried. Benrahma’s legs a blur and Mbeumo coming close to making it another afternoon of the BMW doing their thing. At the other end David Raya keeping Arsmtrong at bay with a quite wonderful save after Dalsgaard’s back pass had dropped woefully short. It was the only realistic chance that Blackburn had between the equaliser and full time. How crucial could it prove? 

Alas, it wasn’t to be for either team. Promotion hopes hit with the lightest of pauses rather than being derailed or ground made. For either team. With West Bromwich Albion also winning, and so themselves now four points clear of Leeds United, anybody hoping for ‘automatic’ is fighting out for one place. I can’t see the Baggies surrendering another double point lead having once more found their form. Albeit their visit to Griffin Park next month could be interesting…..  

Instead, it looks like a straight shoot out between Brentford, Fulham, Leeds United, Preston and Nottingham Forest for second place. Statistically, Leeds have to be favourites. They’re the ones currently occupying that slot and with the lead over third place. Yet pressure does strong things and one thing’s for sure, nobody is going to give up on the chase. With Brentford missing Mathias Jensen, Pontus Jansson and Sergi Canos we’ve still got strength in depth to return. 

So, it wasn’t to be this time. The race for the Premier League is still alive and kicking. The players doing their thing, even at full time, where they and Thomas once more put the family feel into our wonderful club.

IMG_4135

Advice being given at full time….

We’ve a trip to Luton Town up next and then it’s off to Cardiff City on Saturday. The games are coming thick and fast as the excitement shows no sign of abating.

And finally, the (possible) return of the ever popular Terrace Talk video feature. Could it happen? It was a subject that was touched upon in yesterday’s programme feature and has already been picked up on by former host Sean Ridley.

Screenshot 2020-02-23 at 08.15.31

As seen in the programme….

Going by yesterday’s Twitter talk, Sean’s willing to give it a go for one last hurrah – assuming, of course, that ‘official’ are.

Just tweet @BrentfordFC and use the hashtag #TerraceTalk if you’d like to see it back just once more. Hey, the club may even agree.  And if you need a reminder of the feature’s brilliance, then here you go (from the 2016/17 visit of Nottingham Forest)…..

 

Nick Bruzon

Can our own Winston Churchill inspire further success ?

22 Feb

It seems an age since Brentford picked up a point at Birmingham City last weekend. Since then we’ve all had a chance to wonder just what happened to the guy in the green jacket. We’ve beaten Albion Rovers in the World Cup of programme covers final after an epic semi-final replay defeat of Blyth Spartans. We’ve learned that Bryan Mbeumo has recovered and will be starting today. Likewise that Sergi Canos is fit, although that’s a different set of pictures. Wayne Rooney’s Derby County have held Fulham in game that, arguably, they could have won last night –  a result that would have been the perfect tonic ahead of today’s visit from Blackburn Rovers. Yet as one New Road observer opined last night : ‘Result! More dropped points’. And he’s right. It is a result that means a win for Brentford this lunchtime is guaranteed to take us third, just one point behind Leeds United ahead of their own home banker against Reading. But , as ever, things are never as easy as they may seem on paper. Blackburn sit just outside the play-offs, very much sneaking up the blind side to a position where their own three points in front of the Sky cameras will see them edge into sixth. 

This is very much a day with everything to play for. Very much a day for Brentford to make a name for themselves and for Blackburn Rovers to try and ruin our moment with their own promotion seeking agenda. I’m just glad this one is a lunchtime kick off. There’s less time to wait until things get going albeit it’s somewhat of a drag for those living away from TW8. Welcome to what may await should we be successful in our aim of starting life at Lionel Road in the Premier League. 

That in itself being a phrase (or variant of) I have to pinch myself each time it is written. Not because we don’t deserve to be where we are. We do. The table doesn’t lie and this team is one of THE best we’ve ever had the good fortune to see. More because we all know how grim things were for so long. How desperately we all fought just to keep the club alive. It is a point we do return to on these pages as much to remind ourselves how incredible it will be should the dream play out.

Standing in our way today are Blackburn Rovers. We’ve a lot to thank them for. Mainly David Raya who has been one of the major contenders for player of the season. No goalkeeper in the Championship has conceded less than his 27 in 33 games. With the BMW firing at the other end, just think how significant this may prove to be when the final seasonings play out.

Then again, the Blackburn defence is pretty miserly. They’ve barely troubled the ‘A’ column this year and their last two games have seen back to back clean sheets as they picked up wins over Charlton and Hull City. It is a string of results that has marked a positive start to 2020 and now the play-off zone is beckoning. But what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Think Batman v The Joker or KITT v KARR in Knightrider. Who comes off unscathed? Who can pick a less relevant cultural reference ?

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KITT v KARR. The BMW v Blackburn

The heart, of course, says Brentford come out on top. The head says this is football. This is never easy. Nothing is guaranteed . It’s why this year has already seen Leeds United come unstuck against Wigan. Against QPR. Against Sheffield Wednesday. Held by many others. Why Charlton won at Nottingham Forest the Tuesday before last. Editor – bring forth the clichés. Every game absolutely needs to be taken as it comes. Past form counts for nothing when the referee blows his whistle – opponents expected to roll over and die rarely do. Something which would be very much appreciated if Reading could also adhere to.

Pressure can do strange things to top sides but confidence can also inspire them. If we carry on doing what we’ve been doing, and the crowd keep it loud, today has the possibility to be an auspicious one. Our fans are nothing but magnificent, as we saw again at Birmingham City on Saturday. Harry Potter in evidence, as ever. Loud and proud.  Our own man in the green jacket very much helping play a part in out-smarting theirs. More of the same very much the order of the day.

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Can Simon – Brentford’s answer to Winston Churchill – inspire us once more ?

Elsewhere, it would be remiss of us to not to round up recent coverage of the World Cup of Programme Covers event that has played out on Twitter. We’ve not graced these pages over the last few days – mainly due to half-term based exhaustion. Self-inflicted as a social life has, oddly, reared it’s head once more. Ahh – alcohol and live music – I welcome you both back into my life, old friends. Guinness, The Strokes and Bluetone Mark Morris amongst others to get in the way of writing this nonsense.

As such, we’d left things in the build up to the semi-final with Blyth Spartans. An incredible victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat as a last second vote in Brentford’s favour took the tie with Roger Mellie to a dead heat. You couldn’t make it up. Scenes. Limbs (whatever they are) and all other manner of cyber celebration greeted the result. A bitter gut punch to the stomach of the Viz inspired red-hot favourite. The replay seeing Bees cruise into a final shoot out with Albion Rovers.

We looked dead. Buried. The people’s favourite from North-of-the-border storming into a 72% lead until…. the votes began to swing. Was it the ‘RT’ from official that did it? Or just good taste coming to the fore? Either way, the Daliesque stylings of Albion’s wing wizard were pushed in to second place. The victory ours. The tournament complete. A plucky runner up denied the prize of victory which many, myself included, could have had no complaints with had they won.

And finally…. Editor – bring forth the crowbar. Whilst normally I don’t bang on about the match day programme, today is different.

The team have produced an issue based on the classic design from season 1991. A time when the Bees finally achieved promotion from what is now League One and those of us a bit longer in the tooth were wondering whether this really was the last we’d seen of Kinightrider.  Aswell as interviews with David Raya and Lee Towersey – the man behind the controls of R2D2 in Star Wars (apparently), Greville Waterman’s look back at the aforementioned promotion and my own personal favourite page Triple B, (Big) Ben Burgess – The Last Word (if nothing else, it’s a great title) I would crave your indulgence for my own column. If for no other reason then the hope that before the end of the season we may be able to bring back an old friend. Or two……

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Nick Bruzon

Rovers use Bees for Turkey practice.

28 Nov

Oh well. In the end it makes no material difference beyond putting our push for a play-off spot back by a game. Brentford lost by the odd goal in one at Blackburn Rovers last night but, with other results largely going our way, The Bees are still in eighth place. Primary amongst them was West Bromwich Albion retaking top spot from Leeds United after their own home win against Bristol City. Whilst it would have been nice if some form of resistance had been offered to Nottingham Forest at Loftus Road, who doesn’t love seeing the not so ‘super-hoops’ on the wrong end of a 0-4 trashing? Ultimately, we are three points off top six with a visit from relegation threatened Luton Town to come on Saturday.

First things first, well played Blackburn Rovers. Their first half domination was rewarded with an early goal for Bradley Dack and from that point on it was a game of catch up. We couldn’t. You can understand the home fans’ appreciation of the finish. If Jota had performed miracles at Ewood Park a few season back, this one was much akin to that incredible effort. Playing out from the back, Rovers used Brentford as some sort of makeshift turkey. Putting in the practice ahead of December 25th as they carved us apart with all the finesse of a Masterchef contestant (Professionals rather than Celebrities). It was a break that must have had Thomas Frank tearing at his luxuriant hair, with pass and move being rewarded by Dack’s run into the box. 1-0. 11 minutes gone. Game over.

There was only one team in it over the first half and, sadly, it wasn’t The Bees. Given our lack of penetration and languid start, it could have been worse. At least there was promise on the bench with Josh Dasilva and Bryan Mbeumo having been dropped in place of Norgaard and Jan Zamburek respectively . The former a decision that could have gone either way – three into two of Norgaard, Jensen and Dasilva simply won’t go. The full debut of Zamburek somewhat of a surprise but, to be fair, one that has  been coming and is more than deserved based on performances off the bench so far. Moreso with that third game in eight days, the crucial visit of Luton Town, at the weekend. 

Both Mbeumo and Dasilva made it on to the pitch in the second period, a clear attempt to add impetus to a team that looked transformed following the half time talking to. Benrahma hit the woodwork early on with a magnificently struck free kick from the heart of Saunders’ territory. Pontus Jansson then saw a header cleared off the line. Surely the goal would come? Surely? Alas not. With Norgaard also coming close-ish, it was as far as Brentford got. Blackburn able to hang on to a 1-0 win that sees them climb further up the Championship table . Their 13th place a position aided by virtue of having less bad goal difference (-2) than the likes of Birmingham City, QPR and Derby County who all sit below them on the same 24 points. For Brentford, we remain on 27 but so tight is the table that the gap from QPR in 16th to Swansea in the play-offs is just 6 points. Talk about every point counting. Of taking every game as it comes. With so many teams so close, something has to give somewhere. The weekend fixtures are as intriguing as the midweek run we’ve just ‘enjoyed’.

There’s not really much more to say about this one. We’ve all seen it, somehow. Even the highlights are up now. Such as they are. We all know the stats and we can all read the table . Perhaps this is a game that will simply serve to be looked back on when we tell the story of how Brentford fared in our final season at Griffin Park.

Whether that story is one with a happy ending remains to be seen, of course. There’s nothing we can do to change yesterday’s result. Blackburn deserve the win by virtue of scoring the goal. For Brentford, its onwards and upwards. Next stop, Griffin Park. Next opponents, Luton Town.

See you there.    

Nick Bruzon

(below – the crucial moment)

 

The huge prize awaiting if……

27 Nov

Oh my. What an incentive going in to this evening’s game at Blackburn Rovers. If Brentford win and West Bromwich Albion avoid defeat at home to Bristol City, The Bees will end the night in the play-off places. The maths are that simple even if the application of these facts may not be. Football has a funny habit of kicking you in the nuts when you least expect it. When your hope is highest. Yet, at the same time, it would be churlish to ignore the position we now find ourselves in after Swansea City were held at Huddersfield last night.

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The top of the table via the BBC – basic maths.

For Thomas Frank, naming the team would seem an easy decision. Ethan Pinnock more than impressed against Reading on Saturday and so, with Julian Jeanvier still suspended, his retaining his place is an absolute no-brainer. Thankfully, a decision that can be justified on merit rather than card induced necessity. In the midfield, Christian Nørgaard is available once more and could be in with more of a chance at getting his place back. However, Mathias Jensen won’t give up his place without a fight and the cross he supplied to set up Ollie Watkins’ winner last time out was sublime. Inch perfect delivery that was begging to be put away. Watkins duly obliged.

Could Josh Dasilva be moved to accommodate Nørgaard or is, as is more likely, it simply a case of having to bide his time on the bench with Thomas selecting an unchanged starting XI? I can’t see beyond the same team as started against Reading beginning this one tonight. Then again, I’m just the numpty on the terrace and would have more chance of calling the lottery numbers than getting something as vital as a team selection correct.

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Jensen supplied a delicious cross for the goal on Saturday.

Blackburn Rovers are no pushover, that’s for sure. A Bradley Dack brace and a shot from Stewart Downing earned them all the points in a 3-2 fight back against basement boys Barnsley on Saturday. No doubt they will be looking to build on this and climb further up the table from their current 17th. But Brentford are going to be confident. We have every right to be so, too. The last three away games have seen us pick up 9 points and scoring 3 goals each time out with fine wins at Loftus Road, Swansea and then Wigan. We haven’t won four successive games on the road since back in 2011 and so there is yet another incentive to really go for it tonight. That is, if getting Ollie Watkins to the the top of the Championship goal scorer charts or ourselves into the top six wasn’t enough already.

This one is going to be tough. Win, lose or draw it makes no real difference in the long term. At least, at this juncture. It would be quite magnificent to get the points and hope West Bromwich Albion can do us the proverbial favour. With Leeds United grabbing a late winner at Reading last night, the Baggies currently find themselves in second place. One place off the top of the table. If The Bees have the motivation to go for it then surely Slavan Bilic’s team have just as much themselves? The battle of Romaine Sawyers v Daniel Bentley could be a fascinating one although, for obvious reasons, not one I’ll be following.

Instead, it’ll be the red-button and Sky Sports smudge vision in our house. A mid-week trip to Lancashire is one that is diametrically opposed to the budget, holiday allocation at work and domestic green cards. The efforts and ability of our travelling fans to get to games like this one never ceases to amaze me. Would that being there was an option. Tonight will be very much a case of mind over body and true faith in our boys.

Brentford have been superb in the last two months. The victory over Reading very much a case of grinding one out against stubborn opposition who had set out to strangle us. Something we have often struggled with yet this time around kept going for the entire 90 minutes. However we play and whatever Blackburn do, the opportunity and ability are there. 

I can’t wait for this one. Enioy.

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We’ve had some fine away performances this season.

Nick Bruzon  

Magnificent Brentford obliterate Blackburn. What an afternoon at Griffin Park.

2 Feb

My word. That was incredible. What an afternoon. What a game. What a result. Brentford swept aside Blackburn Rovers in a phenomenal display that saw a 0-2 deficit with just 7(seven) on the clock turned into an eventual 5-2 thrashing. We’ve handed out some football lessons over the last few seasons – the likes of Leeds United, Birmingham City and Aston Villa amongst those to feel the pain of a full force red machine – but this was something else. Moreso given the quite horrific start to proceedings.

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Brentford were head and shoulders above Blackburn at Griffin Park

We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages and now isn’t the time to change that record. If you were lucky enough to be there you’ll know how scintillating Brentford were. How irrepressible Said Benrahma was. How desperate were an opening eight minutes that saw Bradley Dack and Danny Graham hand in-form Blackburn an early lead with Daniel Bentley beaten twice. And then the Bees woke up.

Benrahma got our first after a wonderful exchange of passes. The Rovers defence sliced open with all the precision of a surgeon. The execution, clinical. That the goal came so soon after having shipped our second almost nullified the effect of going down so early. The crowd shifted from moan to buzz to noise.

The Bees kicked on. Harrison Reed in the Rovers midfield kicked off. It was symptomatic of his afternoon, tumbling under the most innocuous of challenges and doing his level best to wind up the Brentford players. But they, and the ref, were having none of it. Instead, all he got was a chorus of boos for his trouble. 

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Cheer up cheater Reed. Captain Romaine makes his point.

With Benrahma also finding the crossbar from out wide, Brentford went in 2-1 down at half time but very much in the ascendency. And when they came out for the second period, things escalated to the realms of fantasy football. Ollie Watkins levelled up from distance (something which seems to be very much his thing at present) as the Bees continued to turn the screw. 

Attacking with confidence, flair and swagger there was only one team in it. With Blackburn forced to withdraw both their goalscorers they could do nothing but try to soak up the relentless pressure. A kitchen sponge would have done a better job. 

Ollie Watkins got his second and our third on 73, heading home after David Raya made a mess of a high ball in the box. Five minutes later Neal Maupay doubled the lead after another slick passage of play from Thomas Frank’s free-flowing Bees. And with Brentford refusing to slow it down, birthday boy Sergi Canos completed the rout in the final few minutes.

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Size doesn’t matter – the Bees kept pushing up until the end.

One can’t underrate the beauty of our play or the tremendous character shown by the team. To go two down so quickly against a Blackburn side coming into the game on such a great run of form could have been the catalyst for disaster. Instead, it was a metaphorical boot up the backside that resulted in us being privileged enough to witness one of THE Brentford performances. 

The goals are up on Sky already – they’re every one of them worth a watch. Ollie Watkins ended this one being nominated for Sky Sports ‘goal of the day’. Frankly, it could have been any of the five. Trying to pick a Man-of-the-match from that one is a task akin to the judgement of Solomon. Ollie? Said? Kamo? Romaine? Yoann? Any of them.

Neal was as formidable and ballsy as ever. He must be nightmare to play against. Talking to one Braemar Road observer in the second half, he commented that we probably haven’t had such a tenacious (that’s the polite version) player since the likes of Terry Hurlock. There is no quarter given. Whether in the challenge, the build up or the finish. 

Honestly, I can’t was lyrical enough about this one. It was a finish and performance that put me in mind of Birmingham City last season. The 5-0 rout. Fans lined the pitch at full time as the players walked off to a heroes’ serenade. Thomas Frank, his arm around Neal Maupay, amongst the last to exit this arena of joy. How wonderful for him to see his own plans coming together after that horrific run of form that coincided with his own step up into the head coach role. Yet he has stuck to his principals, taken a horrific amount of flak on the chin but won those dissenting voices around. That’s now 9 games unbeaten and the goals flying in for fun. These 5 came after the 3 against Barnet, the 4 at Rotherham United and another 3 at home to Stoke City. 15 in four games – that’s just ridiculous.

The only question now being how Tuesday night can follow this? A visit from Barnet in an FA Cup replay, our lesson learned, could turn into a massacre IF Brentford continue with the same flair and attacking intent. It’s no gimme of course but I can’t wait to see if we can pick up then where we left off tonight.

What a performance.

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The smile says it all as Brentford go 4-2 up

Nick Bruzon

BBC Wales stick two fingers up to The Bees ahead of Blackburn visit

2 Feb

Brentford host Blackburn Rovers this afternoon, looking to make it 9 games unbeaten and continue the climb up the table that Thomas Frank’s rejigged team have been enjoying since just before Christmas. It is a game that will see him looking to kick on from the disappointment of being held at Barnet in the FA Cup on Tuesday night. That in itself, a game which now presents a further headache beyond the forthcoming replay. Namely, BBC Wales selecting the fifth round tie at Swansea City for a Sunday afternoon, 4pm TV fixture. The reaction to that news one of universal frustration as a day of motorways or train disruption awaits anyone looking to make that trip.

First up, Blackburn. I have to be honest that their position in the table had escaped me. Instead thoughts of Rovers normally turn to Gary Blissett in the FA Cup, ‘Birdy’s date’ (THE single best kit launch video ever – Kitman Bob, if you are reading I remain available) and Jota causing Mark Burridge to explode in the commentary box. Yet a quick glance at the Championship standings shows them just four points behind Frank Lampard’s Derby County (TM) in the hunt for a play-off place. They’ve won four on the spin, conceding just a solitary goal whilst the BBC match preview tells us that they are the kings of the second half goal. Brentford, beware.

Come on Bob. I’m game if you are

Yet The Bees are no slouches either. With goals being scored for fun and Neal Maupay exhuding all the confidence and prowess of a Grand National winner, we’re a force to be reckoned with ourselves. The squad is now confirmed after what was, thankfully, one of the dullest deadline days in history. There was none of the alleged interest from Dean Smith up at Villa Park and so Thomas can be confident he has his boys until the rest of the campaign. Unless, of course, any of them fancy joining Nico Yennaris in China. That being the news that was confirmed on official yesterday but which even Matthew Benham had been tweeting about the day before.

The goals against Barnet were all great. Ollie’s strike from distance, Neal slotting home another ice cool penalty and then Sergi maintaining his composure after a quite delightful ball to feet from Henrik Dalsgaard. Then there were the three efforts against the post. Had Moses Odubajo found himself an inch or two luckier I think we may have had another ‘Jota moment’ in the commentary box. #burridgegasm. Instead, we’ve been left with a tricky replay and the image of John Motson talking tactics under the shadow of Ian Moose stuffing his face. For crying out loud man, at least chew.

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Motty and Chris do their thing as Ian Moose does his

The goals against, and the midfield, were very much a case of ‘move along, nothing to see here’. I guess in part this was down to the slight squad rotation in a game played out against the backdrop of a passionate full house. One thing’s for sure, you can see the incredible difference Kamo makes to the squad. We’re a different team when he starts and one has to hope he’ll be back in the Brentford line up today.

I can’t even come close to calling this one. It promises to be a fascinating match up and I’m intrigued as to how hard we react after Tuesday night. The only thing you can be sure of is that’s going to be bitterly cold out there. Whatever you do, please take care and wrap up warm. The slush may have been cleared but I almost lost a few toes to frostbite on the school run past Griffin Park yesterday.

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A carpet of slush is clear from Griffin Park, Friday

From the league to the cup, next. “An away game at Championship rivals Swansea City has about as much romance, of the cup or otherwise, as a Valentines card and bunch of flowers from petrol station forecourt. I’ve no doubt they are thinking the same…… As I can’t imagine it’ll be one that is selected for TV, if we actually win the replay, at least it should be a traditional 3pm kick off“. 

My words, written on Wednesday morning. Well that’s just another example, if one were needed, of why yours truly is the numpty on the terrace rather than any sort of informed source. As was revealed yesterday, whomever wins the replay on Tuesday night has now seen the match at Swansea City moved to 4pm on a Sunday afternoon.

Well thanks a bunch, BBC Wales. Talk about sticking two fingers up to the fans who now face the prospect of the three scariest words in the English language – ‘Rail replacement bus’- which we’re all thrilled to hear is operating between between Bristol and Cardiff on the Sunday. Expect a return home of about midnight if you chose to take the most godforsaken mode of transport since records began.

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Bad news for The Bees

The reaction has been almost universal. It all seems so pointless. A game that’s not even likely to sell out being picked for a regional arm of the BBC – albeit one available outside of Wales via the medium of Virgin and Sky. Yet we all know that watching it on the armchair is nothing like being there. And why do it at such a ridiculously inconvenient time, given the travel hell that is sure to unfold (see also: moving the cup final to an evening kick off). 

I’ve no doubt the club will point out that we are beholden to the rules of the competition and the whims of broadcasters. Broadcasters who clearly don’t give a monkey about the people that actually make the competition what it is – the fans. Let’s wait to see if BIAS swing into action. This would be the perfect forum for them to say their piece or, better still, our fans’ group get involved. Seriously Adam, if you are reading then you’ve got a quite wonderful opportunity to do something for the supporters. No matter that we already know it is a decision which won’t be over turned.

And yes, I realise that we have to get past Barnet first. They’re in exactly the same boat as us but there’s nothing to stop our clubs, and fan groups, presenting a united front on this one. At least until 7.45pm on Tuesday night.

Still, that’s for then. For now, we’ve got a visit form Blackburn Rovers to look forward to and I can’t wait. See you there.

Now, how about one more look at Jota…..

 

Nick Bruzon