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Time to crack out the tin foil once more.

3 Dec

Brentford will play Stoke City in the FA Cup third round. After the magnificence of 7(seven) at the weekend, Monday evening’s draw saw the same numbered ball less than exciting as we were presented a tie with all the allure of Mrs. Brown in a bikini. With the audience making the strange coo-ing noises usually reserved for that cringeworthy banter between Ally, Matt, Phil and Sue Barker on ‘A Question of Sport’ each time a ball was pulled or ‘glamorous’ tie revealed ( they practically shat themselves over Liverpool v Everton and Manchester United v Wolves) , there was nothing but tumbleweed when Stoke were announced as our opponents. Even the ‘fascinating fact’, something so wonderfully delivered when Jim Rosenthal owned the presenter’s rostrum, was somewhat underwhelming. Brentford, apparently, going well in the Championship.

I love the FA Cup third round and will be there whomever the opponents. After our reaching the fifth round last time out (what second half at Swansea?) there was the hope of more excitement. Instead, it was just disappointing that having swerved the likes of a trip to Reading, Cardiff, Preston or Middlesbrough (breath most definitely being held when each of those came out first) we were then presented with the sort of same division opposition tie that goes to make up the more workmanlike aspect of the draw. Very much part of the supporting cast. Put there to make up the numbers which will allow the romantic side to play out.

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Initial joy ended in fifth round tears at Swansea, last time out

It is a tie that straddles the perineum of team selection. Eminently losable yet theoretically, on paper, equally winnable against a side who are struggling this time out. And we’re at home. You can’t, really, ask for more. Beyond a bit of excitement.

I guess thats the way the balls drop and it is one that now presents Thomas a really interesting team selection. Go full tilt or rest players given the demands of a long season where we are , as it stands, right up there in the promotion race. 

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The cup is always full of optimism, regardless of who we are playing

Despite having zero interest to the TV companies ( you can already see the BBC fighting over the games at Liverpool and Manchester United despite these being there sort of matches we are swamped by week in, week out on Sky, BT and, for the next few days, Amazon Prime) there’s no guarantee of a Saturday 3pm kick off. Like Brentford, West London neighbours Chelsea, QPR and Fulham were also given home ties. Good luck carving up the police duties there. With the third round normally spread thinner than the laughs in an episode of Mrs. Browns Boys, there are likely to be as many games on the Saturday as there will be on the extended weekend that goes around it. That’s TV for you.   

Even listening to the radio this morning, it is the Liverpool  – Everton game that is at the top of the list when the draw is being summarised. We shouldn’t be surprised. I expect Manchester United to follow next. Their non-selection for live coverage is something as rare as a laugh in an episode of etc etc etc…. So if you want the chance to see their under strength team (aka the first XI) in action, then Old Trafford is sure to be up there when the TV picks are selected.

If this sounds a little bitter, then I apologise. Genuinely, it isn’t meant as such. It is more a case of disappointment at what might have been. About the potential that is there just before the first name is pulled. Anybody could face anyone. The foreplay of Tony Adams with his hands on those magic balls as the pain, and pleasure, is teased out over the next 10 minutes. 

Yes. Not Chelsea (again) .

Yes ! Dodged the potato skin of a trip to Millwall. 

Yessss !!! We’re at home . 

Urghh. Noooo – it’s Stoke City. 

Something which, for the record, I have no doubt they are thinking exactly the same about. The FA Cup third round is one which, for me Clive, still produces the most exciting weekend for football as a whole. The knowing that somewhere, somebody big will go down. Something unexpected will happen. Somebody will end up with their tail between their legs.

Who are we kidding, though? Southampton or Scunthorpe. Stevenage or Stoke. It doesn’t, really, matter as long as we are still in that velvet bag. Get the bacofoil ready. Order in the extra large pizza (purely for the cardboard box). I’ve got a tinfoil trophy to make.

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Can Brentford make a start on the “Road to Wembley” ?

Nick Bruzon

Dasilva and goals leave Bees in 7th (seventh) heaven as Lu-tonked.

1 Dec

My. Word. We’ve only gone and done it. Brackets. This is not a typo. This is not a drill. Brentford achieved the magnificent 7(seven) – 0 scoreline in a game that was about as one-sided as they come at Griffin Park on Saturday afternoon. I’d fancied us in the build up but it really was a case of Luton Hoo as The Bees ran riot against the hapless Hatters, blowing them away as easily as a crisp packet aught in the breeze. A Josh Dasilva hat-trick added the cherry to the cake of a scoreline that could, quite easily, have reached double figures. Our biggest win in 25 years, The Bees were about as rampant as it gets. The performance we’ve been building to delivered in epic style.

It’s tricky to be objective in a game of this nature. Luton offered no resistance whatsoever in a game where their plan seemed to be one of matching us in an attempt to play football and, when fair means didn’t work, resort to foul. Referee Tony Harrington issuing no yellows but waving ‘advantage Brentford’ four or five times as somewhat cumbersome attempts to win the ball by the visitors saw the Bees retain possession and continue in our wonderful attacking vibe.

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Luton tried but couldn’t keep pace

The returning Bryan Mbeumo scored the first with little more than five minutes on the clock. A calamitous mix up in the the Luton defence allowing him to nip through and tap it home. Dan Potts electing to chest it past his onrushing goalkeeper James Shea, leaving the Brentford man a tight finish but one he put away with aplomb in front of the home fans. 1-0 and what a relief. If only because the game had started with the ‘dirty trick’ of changing ends. It’s one of those things that just shouldn’t be done and always makes me feel extremely uncomfortable to see us kicking at the ‘away’ end in the second half. 

For once, it made no difference. If anything, a decision that played in to our hands as Griffin Park exploded into life. The atmosphere built. The attacks kept coming and on the half hour it was two. Ollie Watkins guiding home a Josh Dasilva pass to take his personal goal tally for the season to 12. A few minutes later it was three. Mathias Jensen stroking it home in what seemed like slow motion for our next goal. 3-0 up and with complete one way traffic, not even Brentford could cock it up from here against shell shocked opposition? No chance. It was more the case of how many as things then became the Josh Dasilva show.

His first, a beautiful curler from distance that seem to be his trademark strike. It was an exquisite finish and the first of our four (at that point) that left ‘keeper Shea with no hope whatsoever. If the others had all been aided by what we’ll politely call ‘defensive frailty’, this one would have beaten pretty much any ‘keeper. A real thing of beauty with the celebration, from players and fans alike, one worthy of the strike. See also the fifth, and his second, bang on the stroke of half time. Firing home from the tightest of angles it went straight through Shea’s legs and into the far corner of the net. The assist from Benrahma nothing short of audacity on a stick as he scooped it over the Luton defence.

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Brentford celebrate the fourth. Or was it fifth?

Oh my! This was incredible. The stuff of comic books. The stuff of dreams. A professional team shouldn’t, really, be this far ahead of their divisional rivals at this stage in a game. Yet, as we’ve been saying all season, this squad has ability in bucketloads. Has flair. Has confidence. And when we hit our stride, anything can happen.

It was one of those where we didn’t want half-time to come. Although, at the least, it allowed us the chance to catch breath and, more importantly, witness the turning of the Farewell Griffin Park countdown board. With it being the official Rainbow Laces day, this task was performed by our LGBT supporters group, the LGBeeTs. Great work all round.

And with boards updated, it was back out for more football. Whilst the Bees kept going, it almost felt as though the momentum of the first half had been lost. Luton came more into it (that’s relative) with a couple of substitutions having been made at the interval. 

Is that a new goalkeeper?”, asked one Braemar Road observer. 

I don’t know. I’ve only seen the other one from the back”. 

It wasn’t, but our guests did show more resolve as they looked to limit the goal difference deficit. Brentford tried to step it up but couldn’t, quite, break through. Both teams making the full compliment of substitutes, with Thomas Frank even comfortable enough to remove Pontus Jansson from the fray. And with Luton done, they were then blighted by an injury to Brendan Galloway that saw a lengthy break in play and the player eventually stretchered off on 69 minutes. It was a cruel twist of fate for the visitors but one which gave Brentford the impetus to turn the screw once more.

Saïd Benrahma from the penalty spot made it six with twenty minutes to go. If his previous effort, at Loftus Road, had been blasted high and hard this one was at complete odds. Rolled into the bottom corner it sent the home fans wild and, on personal note, set off a fair few Twitter notifications. As our regular reader may be well aware of yours truly’s fascination with what happens when the scoreline reaches that magical 7(seven) goal mark, there was never going to be a better chance. 

Cripes. This was tense. At 6 up the mood should be one of celebration. And, whilst of course it was, there was the underlying knowledge of what might happen. What could happen. What did happen when referee Harrington pointed to the spot for the second time with just minutes left on the clock. Gulp. There was to be no Benrahma this time. With Josh on a hat-trick, the ball was passed over to give him the chance to start off his match ball collection.  Get in !!! No mistake. Cool as you like. He’d done it. We’d done it. Peter Gilham on the microphone set to blow.  Referee Harringotn putting the visitors out of their misery with a mere 6 minutes added time. Seasoned observers calling that one closer to 10 but, at that juncture, any complaint wold have been somewhat trite.

It was incredible. Brilliant. Magnificent. All of the above. Luton, it is true, offered little but you can only beat the players in front of you and Brentford did that in some style. With it, we move to 7th(seventh) place in the table. One point off the play offs and two of fourth. We’ve the trip to Wednesday on Saturday and then visits from Cardiff City, next Wednesday and the small matter of Fulham the following Saturday. 

That’s all to come though. For now, let’s just enjoy the moment. It’s not often you score 7(seven) goals at home. December 1994 against Plymouth the last time we achieved that feat. It was a special afternoon. Here’s hoping there are more like this.  

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Nick Bruzon

Here’s hoping for some mad Hatters at full time.

30 Nov

Here we go again. Brentford go into today’s game at home to struggling Luton Town knowing that victory, combined with anything but a win for Bristol City over revitalised Huddersfield Town will see us end the day in the top six. Hey, there has to be some benefit to Fulham beating Swansea City last night. Moreso, given that one saw Aleksandar Mitrović grab a brace which sees some daylight appearing between the Cottager and Ollie Watkins at the top of the Championship top scorers chart. For now. If ever there was incentive to really go for it against the Hatters then today has it by the bucketload.

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Here’s for a return to winning, and goalscoring, ways

There’s no point crying over the spilt milk that was the midweek defeat at Blackburn Rovers. Ewood Park is a tough place to go. The game has been and gone. The season is just over a third of the way through and Brentford find themselves in an excellent position. Of course the sales of Neal Maupay and Daniel Bentley at the start of the campaign were a kick in the nuts to supporters but we know how the club, and agents, work. Ollie Watkins has more than stepped into the boots of the free-scoring Frenchman whilst David Raya has saved our bacon time and again this season. The plaudits from the Rovers fans at full time about their ex’s performance telling us all we needed to know about the shrewd moves we continue to make in the transfer market. With them, the team continue to grow and now sit in eight place. Somebody considered a makeshift striker back in August is now leading the charge at the business end of goalscoring charts. Things have settled down, the points are rolling in and the fans are happy. 

That’s no reason for any complacency though. Confidence is great and I’m full of it gong in to today’s game. Yet it is also mixed with caution. A fear of being overly arrogant and expecting victory as a given. It isn’t . Anything but. Something we saw when Huddersfield stopped us dead in our tracks with their wonderful breed of anti-football. Mock it all we want but they won. Brentford struggled to break through. Luton will not be the pushover their league position (21st) suggests, with the points earned in their midweek victory over Charlton Athletic being sufficient to keep the Hatters out of the bottom three. Will that win be the flash in the pain or could there be more to come today?

For Brentford, the team is as good as naming itself. I’d expect Bryan Mbeumo and Josh Dasilva to start this one after bing dropped to the bench for that game at Blackburn. Injuries aside, and there don’t appear to be, the other nine pretty much name themselves. Ethan Pinnock gets his third game in a row with Julian Jeanvier serving the final game of his suspension following the red card at Wigan. Ethan looked calm and composed alongside Pontus Jansson last weekend at Griffin Park. Despite the late pressure late from Reading  we held on for the 1-0 win and Thomas will have a tough call to make should we do the same again today.

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Could Bryan return today?

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. This really is about the 90 minutes and nothing else. Other results are a nice bonus but not the be all and end all. We have to get our part right first and then worry about other factors afterwards. Fail to beat Luton and then conversations about Pinnock/Jeanvier, about Ollie catching up on Fulham’s flat trick billy Mitrović (a player who didn’t exactly set the top flight alight although, to be fair, none of his team mates did with Fulham exiting the Premier League as quickly as they reached it)  or ending November in the play-offs will be superfluous. For now.

That said, I genuinely think we’ll do it today. This numpty doesn’t know too much about football but I can recognise team spirit. Flair players. Strong players. Confident supporters. A head coach with a self-belief to match his team’s ability. That solid spine that start with David Raya and runs through the team via Pontus and up to Ollie key to all we do. Chuck in the widemen and things get exciting. Combine all of those and we are a match for anybody. 

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Captain Pontus – key to the spine of the team

I can’t wait for this one. Roll on 3pm. See you there! 

And, as Columbo would say, could you possibly help me with just one more thing….  

The ever wonderful Beesotted (how they churn out so much content and so many exclusives, I have no idea) have been shortlisted for the Fan Media of the Year in the Football Supporters Association awards. This is some honour (certainly, a cut above the West Midlands Programme collectors club monthly prize) and one which would be wonderful if our reader could throw some support behind. Voting closes tonight but if you would like to vote for Dave, Billy and the team, and please do, then the link can be found here.

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Just one more thing – Beesotted have infinitely better quality than my photoshop

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  

Are we getting close to dusting off ‘that’ hashtag after another fine performance?

24 Nov

Get in Ollie Watkins! An 11th goal of the season was sufficient to separate Brentford and Reading, with a 1-0 win for the Bees seeing us climb up to 8th in the Championship table. A mere 2 points outside the play-off spots. With a midweek trip to Blackburn Rovers and then the visit of Luton Town in six days, there’s everything to play for ahead of this time next week. How far away does that season opening home defeat to Birmingham City seem now? Thomas Frank’s fifth win in six league games seeing us on a fast track to dusting off the dreaded ‘Novemberkings’ hashtag. And with Ollie, likened at full time to none other than Juventus legend Cristiano Ronaldo, just one goal behind Aleksandar Mitrovic at the top of the Championship goalscorers table the mood at Griffin Park is buoyant. 

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Heyyyy. Thomas Frank a very happy man at full time

This one was about as hard fought as it comes. In form Reading setting up to stifle the play (see also: Huddersfield Town last time out) and restrict the attacking prowess of The Bees. It was a tactic that worked in the first half with Rico Henry nobled early, requiring a lengthy period of treatment, as Brentford eased their way in to a game that had chances at a premium. Indeed, it was the visitors with the best opportunity of the opening period when George Puscas found himself clean through and bearing down on goal. It had 0-1 all over it but David Raya was equal to it and then some.

Haring off his line, he closed down the gap before spreading himself to close out the threat of certain goal. It really was a magnificent piece of quick thinking, Virtuoso goalkeeping from a man who has fast become a hero the The Griffin Park faithful. The need for precision vital, with referee David Coote showing two very early yellows and then set to ‘random mode’ in his decision making. How Andy Yiadom stayed on in the opening period I have no idea.

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Rico took an early hit

He wasn’t helped by his officials, with the linesman on the Braemar Road side making the foolish mistake of interacting with, and talking back to, the crowd. The magnificent ‘angry dad’ seized on this in a heartbeat and was amongst the many explaining the rules and cajoling the hapless assistant. I will miss this level of interaction and closeness at Lionel Road but, with the price of Premium seating to replicate my current touchline view being what it is, we’ll likely be up in the Gods next time out.

But we digress. Raya did brilliantly. There wasn’t even a glimmer of a potential penalty or a goal as the chance chance was extinguished. And with it, seemingly, Reading’s hopes. Brentford built the pressure in the second half with that man Ollie Watkins finding the back of the net on the hour. Mathias Jensen delivering a beautiful cross from the New Road side of the field straight on to the head of the free scoring number 11. Watkins made no mistake with a powerful downward header back across the face of goal and into the bottom corner.

Griffin Park erupted. As it does. The rain soaked crowd off their seats. Voices raised as high as those pumping visits. Players celebrating as the deadlock was broken. Oh, what a moment. There’s no place like it at times like this. But still there were thirty minutes to go. Still, a referee with no grip on the game or idea what was really going on. Yet Brentford kept going. Watkins again with the chance to double the lead just a few minutes later but not quite able to turn it in on the line.  And as the clock wound down, the pressure built.

Reading are no slouches and they showed it. With five minutes of additional time added on at the death, they started turning the screw. Attack followed attack with more scrambles than an 80s amusement arcade (I absolutely LOVED that game – go check it out). It felt very much like the last attack in a game of rugby. Phase after phase of possession in an attempt to find that elusive way through. Chance after chance cleared as the Brentford defence held firm until Mr Coote finally put us out of our misery. Yesssss!!!!  Well done Pontus, Ethan Pinnock et al as the rejigged backline kept it up until the death.

It was an afternoon of tension and brilliance. Full credit to Reading for pushing us to the absolute limit. They may feel hard done by but it is chances taken that win games. Not possession. Not frustration. Not bad luck. Ollie Watkins got the one effort that counted and it was enough for Brentford. His stock continues to rise and talk on the Quest TV highlights show this morning has very much been that that he is the one that the (so called) big clubs will be looking towards when the transfer window opens.

I’ve no doubt that he will remain in the public eye but why would Thomas want to sell? As he noted at full time, “He’s definitely a number nine now, because he’s so flexible. Cristiano Ronaldo did quite well in the beginning as a winger. Hopefully Ollie can do something similar.

What higher praise is there? What better indication of his ability as the goals continue to flow?

All that’s to worry about in January, though. For now we’ve had another fine win and another three points. The table is really starting to lock up as our progress continues upwards. Keep the wins coming and the rest will look after itself. Blackburn Rovers away on Wednesday is going to be another tough one. But then so was Wigan. So was Swansea. And look what happened there.

Bring it on. I can’t wait…

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Hands off

Nick Bruzon   

An unusual case of The Royals enjoying time in the public eye.

23 Nov

Guess who’s back? We are back. Oh yes. International break blah blah blah. Brentford host Reading this afternoon, no doubt keen to continue the recent run of fine form that has seen us pick up 12 points out of a possible 15 and find the back of the net three times with each victory. It is a purple patch that has seen the 3-2 win at home over Millwall aswell as 0-3 at Swansea, 1-3 at Loftus Road and, most recently, that brutal 0-3 at Wigan. We’ll draw a discreet veil over the Huddersfield Town sludge fest. The net result of all this being that the Bees now find themselves in a position where victory over the Royals could take us to within a single point of the play-off zone. Yet if Huddersfield came to Griffin Park as the Championship’s form team, you can today substitute the Terriers for Reading.

Recent form has been (mostly) wonderful – home and away

Despite what could be described as patchy start, the visitors have come good. And how. Since taking over, manager Mark Bowen has seen his side pick up 10 points from his four league games in charge. By means of showing just how hard he has yanked on the handbrake, this is 2 more than they won in their first eleven matches of the season. Don’t let their position fool you. The table may never lie over the course of a season but, at present, the Royals are very much enjoying life in the public eye. And it’s not often you can say that. 

These next words make me a little queasy. Chief architect in their on-pitch revival seems to be none other than John Swift. He, of course, being one of several from the Chelsea youth production line that went on to enjoy a run at Griffin Park. I’ve said this before, to much chagrin from our reader, but I never really thought he quite cut it. Not at McEachran levels of underwhelming  but the form relative to potential was excruciating at times. We could all see the class but the consistency wasn’t there. 

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File photo.  I don’t remember what this tenuous link was about , either.

Hey, let’s put it down to youth. Certainly, John seems on form now and you are only as good as your last results. Historical form counts for naff all. The BBC note how he has has already created 50 chances in the Championship this season. A figure which comes in at 13 more than any other player. At the same time, he has also been credited with the ‘assist’ six times and, as such, would seem very much their danger man. These are impressive figures although one would imagine that should Saïd Benrahma continue this own prolific return from injury, they are stats that will soon see him overtaken.

Excitingly, the mercurial Algerian is available to Thomas Frank today. A double bonus given the absence of Joel Valencia, who sustained a shoulder injury in the win at Wigan. Like Pontus and Ollie, Said is one of the first names on the team sheet. Inked in with permanent marker in style akin to Mark Warburton with Harlee Dean and Jonathan Douglas. The sort of players deemed utterly essential by the head coach to his own strategy, regardless of their form. Thankfully, our three current stars have all been shining brightly and they will need to be today. 

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Saïd – ever popular with the fans

Also missing are Christian Nørgaard (suspended) and Julian Jeanvier, after seeing red very late on at Wigan. Pontus will need to be at his very shoutiest today with a new look defence in operation. Presumably Ethan Pinnock will slot straight in alongside the vociferous Swede but knowing Thomas, anything could happen. The squad is very much at the thin end with several other key players out injured (Canos and Karelis at the top of that list) but, as we all know, the starting XI is a match for anyone on their day. Or should that be month?  And then some given recent results.

Thomas Frank really has his team on fire. The win at QPR was about as exciting and exhilarating as they come. The victory on the road at Wigan as unexpected yet complete as any we have had this campaign. The alleged ghost of orange/brown long laid to rest. Today has all the potential to lift morale even higher than it already is . To propel The Bees ever upward. To maintain a stranglehold over our visitors that, and not to put any pressure on Thomas, hasn’t seen us slip up at home since the dark days of the Marinus experiment back in 2015.

No pressure Thomas. No pressure…..      

Roll on 2.01pm when we see who he starts with.  Roll on 3pm when it all kicks off.

See you there. Enjoy.

Marinus unicorn

Any excuse to crowbar this one in – no pressure, Thomas.

Nick Bruzon 

What’s that noise? Tumbleweed!

10 Nov

And there we go. Quite magnificent. Brentford returned to three goal winning ways with as comprehensive a scoreline as one could hope for on the road following our 0-3 defeat of Wigan Athletic on Saturday. The horror show of the laboured Huddersfield Town game (something that should have seen both teams banned under the Geneva convention) was well and truly laid to rest after a victory that sees us climb to within two points of the play-off zone. Elsewhere, the aforementioned Terriers were trounced at Preston North End in a game of particular significance to look at shortly. Yet, as ever, we can only start with The Bees.

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Official Twitter show the celebrations

What can you say? Well, in theory not much. There was no real chance of attending this one whilst for multiple reasons, Friday night saw sleep a rarer commodity than a Nick Proschwitz goal. As such, Saturday afternoon saw my time spent curled up on the sofa, drifting in and out of a light snooze with Jeff Stelling and WhatsApp. Not literally, I’m not for one second suggesting Jeff sleeps with viewers. It was more the case of dozing in front of the TV as random dreams of Paris, The Eiffel Tower and other such romantic notions were punctuated by the phone going off or an excited shriek from the Soccer Saturday studio. 

And there was a lot of vibrations and shrieking. WhatsApp didn’t stop buzzing from the moment the team were announced. If we’re being honest with ourselves, days gone by would have seen the selection of number 10 as something to fill supporters with a sense of disappointment. Of dread. Of midfield nothingness. Nowadays, 10 is the first number we look for on the team sheet. The fleet-footed Algerian Benrahma having inherited the shirt and filled it with a joie de vivre so clearly missing in previous seasons. 

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Number 10 – popular with the fans !

So come 2pm, here was the team. Our group have several traditions. One Braemar Road observer will always send the line up around once official have published it at 2.01pm. Another will then remark that the bench looks weak. It’s as much part of football’s rich tapestry of supporter ritual as not shaving on a winning run, lucky shirts, magic pants et al. And this weekend’s message saw Benrahma awol. Noooooo. On a day where we’d only that morning noted the need to undo our own shackles, and those of the opposition, our skeleton key was missing. Hamstring, rather than agent. Thankfully.

Into his boots stepped Joel Valencia. The side, otherwise unchanged from the one which had trounced QPR before falling down agasint Huddersfield. Whatever Thomas Frank said prior to kick off, it worked. And then some. We were most definitely back in ‘attack mode’. 

Five minutes gone and the phone buzzed. ‘Bryan’ . Jeff and the team then confirmed Mbeumo had done it again. Get in. This was good. Too good. If anything, might we have scored too early? Oh ye of little faith. This is not the Brentford of days gone by (mostly). 0-1 up at half time then saw the game, and the phone, explode in a manner not seen since the commentary on ‘that’ Jota goal at Blackburn. #Burridgegasm  .

“Kamo !! “

“Need to see that magical goal celebration tomorrow”

“Wigan red”

“Still plenty of room for 3-2”

And 2 up thanks to the brilliance of Mokotjo became 3 up thanks to a quite wonderful strike from Josh Dasilva. He doesn’t do simple, that’s for sure. Do check out the video highlights for all three but, for me Clive, his was definitely the pick of anther very strong bunch. As much for the way we tore and stretched Wigan. They were left looking so thin, and the Bees creating so much space, that you’d have found better markers in a packet of Sharpies. It really was destructive from The Bees. 

The only sour note being a straight red for Jeanvier deep into injury time for his part in a scuffle. Whether the club take it on the chin or appeal remains to be seen but that’s a problem for another day. For now, it’s another case of saying hats off to Thomas Frank. Hats off to Brentford. 

What’s that noise? Silence? Tumbleweed? No, its the Social media keyboard warriors who had been calling for his head and slagging him off as clueless creeping back under their rocks.  Fairplay to Thomas for keeping on doing what he is doing. 12 points and 12 goals form the last five games does tend to suggest he has his game plan exactly on course!  

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Thomas Frank – popular with the fans !

Next up is International break followed by the visit from Reading. They’ve hit a 10 out 12 point form run that makes this one an extremely interesting challenge. The table doesn’t lie but it is rebalancing itself. Nowhere more is this seen than at the top where West Brom (with Romaine Sawyers taking his game to the next level) and Preston occupy the top two slots.

North End destroyed Huddersfield yesterday to continue their inexorable climb upwards. Almost sneaking up the blindside to go past Leeds United into second place after their third win in a row. For me, the highlight of this one was Paul Gallagher’s second half penalty. It was on a par with Benrahma at QPR for the consummate lesson in how to finish from twelve yards. Power and precision very much the order of the day.

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Benrahma at QPR. Gallgher did similar

Yet Preston are mentioned to note that, much like Brentford, put the wins together and the rest happens naturally. Don’t worry about other clubs and other results. Concentrate on your own game. With the top half of Championship table locked up tighter than Alcatraz, if you keep winning then the potential for ascension remains huge. Thomas Frank is proving it. Alex Neil at Preston is proving it. Keep getting those wins on the board and then when somebody falls apart or hits the skids – boom ! Move in and move up.

The Bees are now doing it and have gone up to 9th. We’ve overtaken QPR. We’ve overtaken Birmingham City. Who can we overtake next?

Roll on Saturday week when we can find out.

Nick Bruzon

Will Wigan be banging the same drum when Bees visit?

9 Nov

Wigan Athletic, here we come. Brentford have the chance to get things back on track this Saturday following the bloody nose administered by Huddersfield Town. Hats off to the brave five hundred or so making the trip through the fog for this one. Last season’s tedium (including the unspeakable horror of a drum) combined with last night’s trip to the good bit of Shepherds Bush, where popular music’s The Bluetones were playing, make this one a journey too far for yours truly. Those green cards aren’t going to earn themselves. But is it the right decision to swerve this?

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The Bluetones – more fun than a trip to Wigan in the fog

From a musical perspective then, yes. The Bluetones were magnificent. It was the second trip to the end of the 237 in as many weeks and the result was just as satisfying. Moreso, given the number of Bees both in attendance and on stage.

At the other end of the spectrum, the previous game and drum at Wigan were simply awful.  It was one described on these pages at the time as insipid a 0-0 draw as one could imagine ; as turgid as it comes. Wigan were determined to strangle any life out of the game. Brentford, unable to find a way through as any attacking intent was choked out of the game.

Well, for those going up today it can’t be as bad as that. Can it? Brentford had their own challenge with stubborn opponents against Huddersfield Town last weekend. One would hope that Thomas Frank., himself speaking very openly in the Beesotted podcast this week, won’t fall into the same trap again. A repeat of our previous away trip and the Brentford that went to Swansea City would do very finely, thank you. 

Yet if Huddersfield were the division’s form team when our paths crossed, Wigan very much aren’t. One point out of a possible nine was rounded off with injury time defeat at home to Swansea last time out. Paul Cook, architect of the aforementioned snoozefest, is still at the helm for our hosts. Hopefully his team’s precarious position, just two places above the relegation spots, will encourage them to play a more open game in the search for success. The Bees are always at their best when playing that wonderful brand of free-flowing football which had seen 9 points and 9 goals prior to the visit from the Terriers.

Injurywise, there aren’t expected to be any changes from the side that has featured in recent weeks. I can only assume it will be more of the same when our starting XI is announced at 2pm. In part due to available players but as much to right the wrongs from the Huddersfield game. It was one which saw Saïd Benrahma stifled. Strangled into submission and, when he did get the ball, perhaps guilty of trying too hard to do it on his own. Perhaps that was down to the frustration of our scrap or maybe it was just his mindset.

He is singled out because he is, by a country mile, our most creative player. When Saïd is on song there’s no sweeter sound. One man can’t do it all but one man can inspire others around them. Sometimes it’s hard to remember he is just 24 years old (see also: Sergi Canos – 22) such is the vision and ability he has. This is a player who is only going to get better and better. One we really need to savour whilst we can. One who could be the catalyst in pushing this team forward.

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We all love Said

Whilst Brentford are mid-table at present, the play-off zone is a mere four points away. Had we picked up the win at Griffin Park the Bees would now been in eighth. It is something noted not to berate anybody for missing the opportunity but more to show how tight things remain in The Championship. Just four points separate Frank Lampard’s former club Derby County in 15th to Nottingham Forest in fifth. This is wide open for whoever wants it. At present, Hull City are the only side in the division to have won three games on the bounce. The form book is out of the window at the moment.

Checking with the bookies – purely for research purposes – not even they can call it. Brentford are very narrow favourites but the odds on offer suggest more than ever that any result is possible . Good luck with your accumulators. Personally, I wouldn’t go near this one with a barge pole. If nothing else, drums can be a largely unsettling factor.

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The Bees are favourites. On paper

All of which is summed up to say that yours truly hasn’t a clue. Although anybody still reading will surely have established that already from a column that very much feels like ‘contractual obligation’ today. The mind is still very much focussed on the fun and games had last night. Can Brentford get things heading back in the right direction? Will Paul Cook conspire to frustrate us one more?  There’s only one place to find out – and it ’s not here this morning.

Roll on 3pm when, all being well, the normal course of events can resume.

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Last time out – A drum is no substitute atmosphere

Nick Bruzon 

A dismal morning and a dank afternoon as the form team keep on rolling.

3 Nov

No goals. No points. No complaints. Huddersfield Town came to Griffin Park on Saturday to round off a disappointing day of sport in our house. A day that had begun so brightly with the prospect of the Rugby World Cup final ended with defeat for both England and Brentford. For the Bees, a 0-1 home reverse came at the end of a game in which chances were at a premium and, it would be fair to say, Danny Cowley and his Terriers did a well drilled job on us. Creativity was stifled, the clock run down and the chance taken. Fair play to them. The Championship’s form team keep on rolling.

It was a really odd one to sit through. A nothing of a game where The Bees struggled to get out of second gear. The cold and rain not helping matters but certainly no excuse for our somewhat out of character inability to shine. The mercurial touches and wonder goals of theist few weeks nothing but a distant memory. The game, definitely one for the purists where Huddersfield did exactly what they needed to.

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View from the Braemar – a slippery pitch and tough conditions

Being honest, I’m struggling to remember much. Even having sat through the sub two minute highlight package. Something which, compared to the five or six minutes we sometimes get, tells you all you need to know about a turgid afternoon in dank conditions. Perhaps it was the early start to proceedings which saw pub breakfast taken in front of the rugby at 9am that left many of us feeling jaded. Nonchalant. Ambivalent even. And definitely nothing to do with the Guinness that washed down my sausages.

Besides, that early start time was perfectly legitimate. There are three social occasions breakfast alcohol is acceptable  – the last half hour before a wedding, as you wait with the groom in the pub across the road from the church. Crossing through passport control at an airport ; the exact split second that the laws of time are suspended and it’s five o’clock. Somewhere. Or the finals of a Southern hemisphere sporting event. Yesterday fitting into that last category where, perhaps, the result against a brutally strong team who out-thought their opponents could have been taken as some form of omen.

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It was five o’clock. Somewhere

Yet whatever the trigger yesterday, and whether the two were in any way connected, it just never felt like it was going to happen on the pitch. A game where subs were desperately needed but even their arrival did little to alter the path of an encounter that, once the visitors had taken the lead via Karlan Grant, Brentford never looked like getting back into.

Even then, the winner was a soft one. Nobody picking up a player who now sits just one goal, behind Ollie Watkins, occupying third place in the Championship leading scorers table. Nobody then closing him down as he hit one low past David Raya and into the far corner on the hour. It was one of few real caches, for either team, and it was the one that mattered. From that point on there was huff, puff, endeavour and desperation but nothing happened. Brentford very much flaccid in their attack. Huddersfield, operating the clock with all the precision of a Swiss watchmaker. Parking the bus with all the finesse of Jose Mourinho. The Bees had no way through. It wasn’t to be.

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Brentford had no way through the rain or The Terriers

Off the field of play, things were as wonderful as ever.  The opportunity to catch up with friends and even some of our regular visitors from the away contingent – always a pleasure. Bumping into the wonderful Woody and his family for a chat as the players went through their warm up routine. What a fantastic young man he is.

Then, a chance encounter saw HB offered a trip to the dressing room pre-kick off to talk tactics with Thomas Frank. Only at Brentford does this sort of thing happen. Long may it continue. I am sure the result was totally unconnected. Besides, any input offered by Harry would likely have been limited to the words Sergi and Canos.

Instead, we go away from this one empty handed. Any solace taken being in the fact that the table is still ridiculously tight. Victory yesterday would have taken us to the fringes of the play of race. Instead, we remain a mere four points off of fifth place. The season is stil far too young  – little over a quarter of the way through – to determine which way it will go . With 93 points still to play for, you can be sure this one is going to have plenty of twists and turn before we finish up against Barnsley in May.

For now, it wasn’t to be. Well played Huddersfield Town. Roll on Saturday and our trip to Wigan Athletic where, all being well, normal goalscoring service will resume.

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Pick Sergi. Then Canos. Sergi Canos. S Canos etc

Nick Bruzon