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Cambridge follow Oxford in giving Bees the third degree.

14 Aug

Well that wasn’t great. Cambridge United reached the second round of the League Cup at the expense of a Brentford team chock full of new signings yet tinkered with to such an extent that it was almost at the level of  Marinus and the car keys in a bowl team selection of Oxford United from the same stage a few season back. Almost. At least this time we held on for a 1-1 draw before succumbing to fatal spot kicks taken in front of an ecstatic away support. On the plus side, the arrival of alleged Celtic target Rico Henry and long term signing Ollie Watkins put some much needed spring in the step to a game we almost won but, obviously, didn’t. 

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Griffin Park looked great under lights. Despite the result.

Upset? In a cup sense then of course but personally I slept well upon returning home. Dru Yearwood’s mistake early on presented Cambridge a chance from which they made no mistake but then they barely had a look in. Dru himself looked composed after that and grew into the game but the challenge of throwing so many new faces together was one that Brentford struggled with. Thomas Frank would later describe it as a disjointed performance and few present in the 5000+ crowd could argue with that.

Trying to look on the bright side this morning, there are still plenty of positives. Thomas was always going to play the new boys  – even this self-confessed numpty on the terrace called that one out yesterday – so it was a self-imposed challenge. The visitors came at us from the off and got the early goal as we struggled to settle in. Fair play to them in doing what they needed to but after that there was no more. Rather than turn into an Oxford style car crash (3-0 down after 12 minutes with Kemar Roofe’s 40 yard lob of Jack Bonham the ultimate slap in the face for the hapless head coach back in 2015) Brentford put the brakes on. Even though we struggled to get through our opponents, looking to walk it in rather than shoot, at least it stopped the goals going in.

Marinus Oxford touchline

Marinus and the Oxford fiasco (not a prog rock band). Never, ever forget

Thompson, Mbuemo, Valencia and Yearwood in particular all grew into the game and now have vital minutes under the belt. Zamburek and Racic stepped in and stepped up to a line up which was very much one for this evening only. Rico Henry and Ollie Watkins made a huge difference when they came on and showed what might have been had Thomas not used the game to try out new faces and give his starting XI a break after their exertions in the weekend win at Middlesbrough. Hull City on Saturday is going to be a tough one so you can understand why he has done this.

Outside of the rested faces, we’ve still got the likes of Said and Kamo to come back in to the team. And Marcus Forss scored another goal for the Bees. Huge news there with a starting berth possibly up for grabs in Thomas Frank’s all attack front line for Hull.

The subsequent second round draw saw Cambridge United drawn away to Swansea City. That in itself a reason to be grateful for crashing out. After last season’s horror shows against the Swans (home, away and FA Cup trip) the less we see of them in the short term the better. Besides, it also means we are now free to concentrate on the league.

And, of course, Celtic lost. Knocked out of the Champions League at home by CFR Cluj of Romania. Their own collapse at the death seeing them fail to make the group stages once more. This in itself of huge importance to Brentford, given the apparent interest in Rico Henry and the fact that their window remains open for a few more weeks so anyone could still leave for the Scottish top flight. Should they desire.

With the lure of Europe’s top table no longer available (as ever at this time of year), might a move to Glasgow be quite so appealing for Rico?  If, indeed, it was? The way he played last night, he is somebody who will surely be part of Thomas Frank’s plans this season so hanging on to him will be another boost.

Also, the cover of the programme looked great. Clutching at straws now, granted, but it was that sort of night. Some would say ‘couldn’t be bothered’ . Personally, I’ll go for slight over-tinkering in a bid to get new blood circulating. Another time we may have got away with it but not this time and there’s not much else to say, really.

Well done to our visitors. No gripes for me there. Bad luck Bees. We tried but much like Oxford, Cambridge gave us an education in how to play cup football and it was Brentford left with the blues. Nobody needs any further lecture from me on the subject.

Roll on Saturday and Hull City. See you there.

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Nice artwork

Nick Bruzon

Here’s hoping for a starry, starry night on Tuesday.

12 Aug

Middlesbrough has been and gone. Another trip to the Riverside and another win. Easy when you know how. Winning up there is starting to become a bit of a habit for Brentford but let’s not dwell on it any more. The points are in the bag and the team that scored the most goals won. Next up is the visit of Cambridge United to Griffin Park in the League Cup on Tuesday evening. And whilst we’re hoping it won’t be another ‘last ever’, who knows what might happen should the team be anything but on their game.

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The weekend at Middlesbrough was fantastic but it’s been and gone

As Brentford saw last season when pitted against the likes of Oxford United and Barnet, league position is no guarantee of cup success. Yes, we did beat both teams but neither game was anywhere near as emphatic as the divisional gulf may have suggested prior to kick off. Just as we’ve been the team administering the shocks in the past, now Cambridge United will be looking to throw down a potato skin from the depths of League Two. Will Thomas Frank put his foot in it though?

Well, I can’t help but feel there’ll be changes. Albeit, strong ones. Those acquisitions made later in the window are sure be given a go. Aren’t they? Presumably we’ll see Joel Valencia, Bryan Mbuemo, Dominic Thompson and Dru Yearwood on the team sheet. What about a certain Mr. Benrahma, too? Josh Clarke? Luke Daniels? It will be interesting to see how much Thomas tinkers but get it wrong and we face paying the ultimate price i.e. losing. Which could then bring us to the aforementioned ‘last ever’. Namely, cup game under lights at Griffin Park. And whilst I’m already in danger of ploughing the West Ham furrow of last ever this/that and the other at Upton Park / The Boleyn Ground, it does make you think.

If nothing else, about how wonderful an atmosphere can be generated by an ‘after-dark’ cup tie. Here’s hoping it isn’t our ‘last ever’, if only for the reason that  I can’t be ticking that one off the list in August. And it also means that Cambridge will have scored a first goal of the season after opening their League two campaign with successive 0-0 draws. So if you haven’t got your ticket as yet then it’s not too late. Besides, what’s the alternative? Staying at home to watch the ultimate Sky TV love-in of Salford City v Leeds United? Pass me the bucket. Please.

The other bonus about Cambridge visiting is that we get an unexpected glimpse at one of THE kits of 2019/20. Namely, their Hummel away shirt which is a spin on the Vandanel effort from the early 90s. So glaring it’s beautiful. One fan’s explosion in a paint factory is another’s Starry Night or Birth of Venus. And I’m definitely in the latter category. Much like Van Gogh’s masterpiece, let’s hope we don’t get lost in those blue and white depths.

Elsewhere, I did promise we’d try and keep on top of The Last Word Fantasy Football League this season. So here we go. After the first round of head-to-head fixtures the top ten are as below. Thanks all for entering and let’s not forget there’s a shirt on offer for the winning team at season end. Please let’s not forget….

Until then, here’s to Cambridge United on Tuesday. See you there…

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Nick Bruzon