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Thomas has my vote as the stakes get ever higher.

12 Dec

Another game at Griffin Park, another win. Cardiff City the latest side to fall as Brentford picked up all three points in a 2-1 which, after seeming effortless and more a case of ‘how many?’, ended up being a bit of a nail biter as the visitors were allowed back into it courtesy of a quiet magnificent set piece routine. Credit where it is due. But with just about all other results going our way last night and everybody else drawing barring QPR who won at Birmingham City (that one really was Sophie’s Choice – other, cruder, metaphors may also apply) the gap to the play off places and Fulham in third – for now – got even tighter. With 21 games played, The Bees sit immediately outside the play-off zone and just two points behind the Cottagers.

It was a game which, as called in advance, featured the return of both Henrik Dalsgaard and Pontus Jansson. For the other nine it was the team which last ran out in from of the home fans  – ‘that’ scoreline against Luton Town – which started again. Meaning Ethan Pinnock retained his place alongside the enigmatic Swede rather than Julian Jeanvier. That said, JJ did put in an appearance in a late switch to three at the back that had Griffin Park gritting it’s collective teeth and all knowing ‘what happens’ when we move to last gasp defence. In this instance though, we held strong !

To be fair, it hadn’t felt remotely like getting to that buttock clenching stage for huge swathes of this one. Saïd and Mathias both coming close early with strong chances. How Jensen didn’t score remains a mystery, although Neil Etheridge in goal for the visitors will claim the credit as the midfielder found himself clean through but shot at the ‘keeper. 

It didn’t matter. With little over half the opening period gone, Saïd continued his one man torment of the Bluebirds and lined up Bryan Mbeumo for the opener. It had been coming all half in a game that was about as one way as they come. The Algerian working wonders and bamboozling defenders before cueing up his fellow wideman. 1-0. Game on, surely, game over ? Surely?

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Goalscorer Mbeumo runs at Cardiff, again.

If there was any doubt it was put to bed immediately into the second period. Ollie Watkins glancing a header across the face of goal and past Etheridge. Whilst the cross had been delivered from the Braemar it was a move which had begun on the opposite flank, via the medium of a ….short corner. This is not a typo. This is not a drill. I repeat, a short corner. My word. One of them has actually worked. Of all the ironies and, perhaps, Brentford official did me a favour in electing not to print last night’s programme column (no idea, for those that asked but thank you) in which this most maligned of set pieces did get another mention.

We digress. With it, Ollie moves on up to 13 goals in the Championship charts. His strike made to look as effortless as any he has scored all season. It wasn’t, but that’s just how he rolls. Cool, calm and another one collected to add to his tally. That’s 3 behind Aleksandar Mitrovic at Fulham. If Saturday didn’t have enough frisson already, there is now an even more interesting sub-plot with this battle between two of the table’s top scorers.     

So that was it. Wasn’t it? 46 minutes gone. 2-0 Brentford. Cardiff not given a glance all game and the Bees still pushing. A home banker from this point onwards. Ah, if only football was that easy. We’ve all been here too many times to think there’s such a thing as a comfortable evening. Luton Town aside. Sure enough, we conspired to almost ‘do a Brentford’. Almost.

Referee John Brooks, so strong in the first half, suddenly went to ‘random mode’. It was as though he had been imbued with the spirit of Gavin Ward. The Bees sat back and Cardiff grew in confidence. Moreso after Marlon Pack absolutely leathered a free kick from distance just after the hour. The move had been a well worked one to stretch us but was then hit with all the accuracy and speed of a guided missile. David Raya had no chance. The away fans celebrated and the Bees wobbled. 

But if there was any doubt in the stands, there was none on pitch. Wave after wave of pressure was mopped up. The defence holding firm. The addition of Jeanvier not having the feared imbalance . Instead, we stayed tight. It wouldn’t have been my call, that’s for sure, but it’s why Thomas Frank is head coach and yours truly just writes nonsense in his spare time. It’s amazing to think about some of the ridiculous stick he was getting just a month or two ago. Just last weekend after the Sheffield Wednesday game. He’s a man with a plan and has his boys firing. Holding their nerve. Getting the win. Patience, and a bit of faith, people. It will be rewarded, as was proven last night.

Four minutes of additional time, stretched out by a head injury, were as angsty as they got but Cardiff shot themselves in the foot with a needless bit of foul play at the end and, with it, their moment was gone.  An oddly set up free kick, with the visitors not knowing whether to defend it or line up for a last gasp run at our goal, saw the clock run down. Brentford hung on to win a game that had felt so, so comfortable for so, so long. Neil Harris tasted defeat for the first time in his Bluebirds’ career. Brentford with another win under lights and with it the realisation that we only have two more ‘regular’ league games after dark  – the visits of Leeds United and West Brom. Enjoy these moments whilst you can.

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There aren’t many of these to go…

 At the end of the day, Clive, the result is the only thing that counts when the final tally is counted up. It’s another three points for The Bees. The table ever tighter at the top. Brentford knowing that a win against Fulham on Saturday will take us above our neighbours. Their own back to back defeats all helping the chasing pack. Not that we needed any extra incentive for this one but, my word, if ever we needed any extra incentive then here it is.

All that’s to come. For now, the highlights are up and we can all catch our breath. Until the weekend……

 

Nick Bruzon

A welcome return to Griffin Park this evening.

11 Dec

The Festive calendar is well and truly upon us. Brentford start a run of five games over the next eighteen days with a visit from Cardiff City. It is a run that also includes a local derby at home to Fulham on Saturday, followed by games with title chasing West Bromwich Albion, Swansea City and then Millwall. All this squeezed into what remains of December. Good luck finding time to get that Christmas shopping done.

Tonight looks as though it is going to be about as tough as it gets. At least, on form. Neil Harris has Cardiff firing and, as it stands, they  sit one place above us in the Championship table. Three wins on the bounce and unbeaten since the ex Millwall man took over suggests that the Bluebirds are very much a force to be reckoned with. 

I’m not going to be pretend to have an overly impressive insight into our visitors. Anybody coming to these pages should, one hopes, know what they are going to get by this stage. Inciteful analysis probably more reserved to the likes of Beesotted or other reputable sources. Besides, Neil Warnock’s side weren’t exactly renowned for their attractive football. You knew what you were going to get and to anybody outside of the Welsh capital it didn’t really warrant too much scrutiny. Generally effective.

Yet now a change of manager has seen a change in fortune. The results are coming in. Then again, the same could have been said for  Mark Bowen’s Reading and we stoped them dead in their tracks the other week. We’ve a team that, on it’s day, is a match for anybody in the division. The goals have been flying in and the defence looking solid. As a general rule. The BBC report we are likely to be blessed by the return of both Henrik Dalsgaard and Pontus Jansson tonight. Both missed the 2-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday over the weekend. Both are amongst our biggest, best and most experienced. International players with their own unique skillsets. 

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View from the Braemar – Pontus and Henrik have been imperious

Jansson the marquee signing over the summer. The captain of Sweden. Leather lungs, rock solid and afraid of nothing or no-one. Woe betide anybody who lets their captain down. The smile on his face enormous when we win. The pain on his face should results not go our way, etched deep in waves of torment and despair. As for Dalsgaard, he is one of the most under rated players in the team. Whilst the likes of Said, Ollie, Rico, Pontus, Josh and David (amongst others) so often grab the headlines – and deservedly so – Henrik just does his thing. A titan at the back yet one with the ability to push up higher than Simon Cowell’s waistband. Apparently he represented Denmark at The World Cup whilst a Brentford player – if only somebody had mentioned it at the time.

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Captain Pontus – key to the spine of the team

So yes, tonight could be hard. But as much for Cardiff City as Brentford. The table sees a mere point separating the teams with everything to gain and nothing to lose. Apart from three points. I expect The Bees to go for it. Whether the Bluebirds opt for strangling the game and catching us on the break or going for broke themselves is a mystery yet to be unravelled . Roll on 7.45pm when we can find out.

And if there was any more incentive needed, last night saw Fulham warm up for Saturday’s game by losing. Again. The weekend saw them beaten at home by Bristol City. Tuesday was the turn of Preston to take the points. The gap to Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion at the top growing ever bigger. With the added bonus of defender Denis Odoi being sent off, meaning he’ll miss the game at Griffin Park. Boo-hoo. What a shame. A win tonight will put us within touching distance of the Cottagers going in to that one.

Whilst we shouldn’t get too far ahead of ourselves – every game as it comes and all that –  what a wonderful extra that would be if we do get the win tonight. For me, Clive, I’m going into this one bursting full of confidence despite the opposition and despite Sheffield Wednesday. We’re just too strong at home. Ask Luton Town. Griffin Park under the lights has seen some special nights and with these now very much finite commodity, expect it to be raucous tonight. I can’t wait.

See you there.

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Brentford celebrated 7 (seven) times last time at Griffin Park.

Nick Bruzon 

Tonight is huge (again)….but not necessarily at Anfield.

24 Apr

Something, something, something, royal baby. Blah, blah, blah, Liverpool getting a semi. Those glory, glory European Anfield nights. Some perspective people, please. There are much more important matters afoot. Hey, Brentford aren’t even playing tonight and will have to be content with gorging on the memory of Saturday’s derby day victory over QPR combined with looking forward to the weekend trip to Barnsley. Yet if ever there was a case of ‘other results’ being of critical importance to The Bees then Tuesday night is that time as Derby County host Cardiff City and Nottingham Forest are home to Barnsley.

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Sergi and Romaine amongst the architects of QPR’s doom on Saturday

We all know the current position in the Championship table. Middlesbrough in fifth, are on 72 points. That’s four ahead of Brentford and the aforementioned Rams on 68. Yet sixth placed Millwall have 69. I’m no Stephen Fry but even yours truly has sufficient mental acumen to know that’s a gap of one point. One. Point. With two games left to reel it in.

Yet, as ever, there is a potential fly in the ointment. Derby County do have that game in hand. And they play it tonight. Against Cardiff City. Victory will stretch the gap to an, albeit still catchable, three points. Cardiff, on the flip side, know that a win will give them a monumental advantage in the race with Fulham for an automatic promotion slot. Success will see them four points clear in second place with just two games to go.

This is huge. You couldn’t make up a game of this consequence. West London will be split down the middle tonight with Brentford no doubt hoping for a Cardiff win whilst Fulham fans will be mildly waving their clappers in support of Derby. Even QPR supporters will be praying for…. actually, they won’t as they’re long dead in the water.

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Cardiff win tonight and I’ll even forgive them the hashtags

But if this one has impact on Brentford, then our attention is going to be split on two fronts. There’s also the game at Nottingham Forest where defeat for Barnsley will massively increase their chances of relegation. A win will see them leapfrog fourth bottom Bolton Wanderers and have the added benefit of dragging Birmingham City back into things. The Blues own safety net of five points will be a lot squeakier if that becomes three, once the remaining games level out.

Honestly, I’m not sure which result will be best for us here. No doubt Dean Smith would tell Brentford fans just to worry about ourselves. Yet with The Bees going to Oakwell on Saturday, do we want them with destiny back in their own hands and safer, or with that potentially demoralising punch to the gut having been administered by Nottingham Forest? In themselves, a team who have won just a single game out of the last nine, losing the other eight and managing just three goals in the process.

Is it better for us to go into Saturday’s game with Barnsley’s safety all but a mathematical miracle, potentially even hoping that Birmingham City could administer a mid-afternoon psychological blow to our opponents? Or is being the architects of their own survival a better option? Something that would then also see us in the utterly distasteful position of hoping for QPR success on Saturday, with the Blues heading to Loftus Road.

Sadly, having seen the ineptitude of the hapless hoops on Saturday I now have to declare Birmingham City safe. That hurts. But all good things come to an end. Bolton travel to fellow relegation candidates Burton on Saturday and then host goal shy Forest as the season reaches an intriguing denouement. I’m not even going to get close to calling those.

Instead, it really is a case of whatever happens tonight at the City Ground happens. Any result is both good and bad for us. It WILL have an impact but only Saturday at 3pm will tell what that is. Instead, the game of absolute importance will be the one at Pride Park.

I remember back in 1995/96, listening to BBC Radio 5 ( I think, sure the sport had moved on from Radio 2 by then) and Birmingham City v Bradford. It was the season that only one side went up and the Blues only needed two points to guarantee the league title from second placed Brentford. Their 0-0 with Bradford City was one of the most painful bits of self-inflicted torture I’ve ever sat through.  It was rewarded, briefly, the following weekend as The Bees were doing the needful at Bristol Rovers whilst Huddersfield Town took the lead against City. Sadly, results didn’t hold and we ended up in the play-offs. What I wouldn’t pay for that conclusion this time around…

So choose what you do tonight carefully. That Liverpool – Roma Champions League tie is, undoubtedly, a huge occasion. The Reds have a magnificent record in Europe that we can’t get close to. Yet. And if nothing else, the chance to play ‘Liverpool in Europe’ bingo is always a wonderful one.

But for me (Clive) it’ll a case of eschewing Anfield and BT Sport where, whatever happens, it will only be half time. At full time.  Instead, I’ll be glued to Sky Sports and the game from Derby. The prize at the end of that one could be of infinitely more importance in this little corner of West London…

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Liverpool bingo – celebrating both history and cliche

Nick Bruzon

Goals mean wins see. No matter how they come.

14 Mar

There’s not much you can say after that. Cardiff City beat Brentford 3-1 in a game that was as much a victory for the much derided tactics of manager Neil Warnock as it was for his players’ ability to find the back of the net. With Aston Villa being thumped at home by QPR (how?) and Wolves finally getting back to winning ways, the top two are going to require a horrific stumble to be caught. But at least there was something for us to smile about at the bottom end of the table. A point for Barnsley in their ‘game in hand’ along with victory for Hull City has increased the pressure on this month’s Birmingham City manager Garry Monk and his team.

We can only start with Brentford where there’s not much more to be said. If you weren’t there then you’ll have likely caught it on TV (unless you were busy swooning over Sam Saunders in the pundit’s chair). The Bees came flying out of the blocks at 100mph. Neal Maupay with a wonderful chance to have opened the scoring whilst most people were still taking their seats before finding the back of the net for 1-0 with little more than five minutes on the clock. Cardiff a goal down and on the ropes. Brentford continuing to spread the ball amongst them as they couldn’t cope with our free flowing football. Surely a second goal was only a matter of moments away?

And on twenty-five minutes it came. To the visitors.  Sol Bamba with a quite wonderfully taken turn and volley that left man of the match Dan Bentley beaten all ends up. It was a finish one can only doff the hat to, no matter how begrudgingly that feels, yet it was one that  let the visitors back into the game. From that point on, they started to really make their presence felt.

Hooooofffff” went the crowd as every ball was humped forward out of the back. “Crunnccch” went the challenge as Warnock’s team made themselves known in the most agricultural of styles. There was no real help from a referee and his assistants who seemed set to random mode. I don’t envy them their role but they need to do it properly if they step up to the challenge. Dean Smith seemed incensed by some of the decision making and inconsistency at full time. As were the crowd throughout a second half that saw Sergi quite perplexed (that’s the polite word) with the officials on more than on occasion.

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Sergi saying what we were all thinking

But for all that the men in the middle didn’t help, a goal on the stroke of half time gave the visitors a lead which they would never surrender, whatever the cost. Football very much coming second to the three points. They fought us in the penalty box. The fought us in the middle. They fought with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. A style of football that ended up being little more than scraping and spoiling. Despite our own 67% of possession, they mopped up everything and made sure there was no way through. With a third goal sealing the deal just shy of the hour, there was no way back for the Bees. The clock was carefully run down and it ended 3-1 to the visitors

It was a triumph for Warnock and his team. You can’t deny them their current run or the win that their methodology presented. 7(seven) points clear of third placed Aston Villa suggest they are doing something very much right in terms of getting the results. At the same time, for all Dean was rightly frustrated at full-time, perhaps this was a beneficial lesson in the long term. Our ability to play against the more ‘robust’ teams in the division has been questioned before. The first twenty minutes, with the Bees at full flow against a team we dictated the pattern of the game to, were quite beautiful to watch. The final seventy had a painful inevitability.

Next up for the Bees, the visit of Middlesbrough. Whilst they are looking to consolidate their sixth place, if Brentford are to have any chance of reeling in that 8 point gap then Dean was quite clear about how it needs to be done. Every game is going to be a cup final for us,” he said at full time. “If we want to hang onto the coat-tails of those above us we have to make sure we win games, starting on Saturday”. It’ll be a tough one that’s for sure and if for no other reason than our failure to beat Boro’ since paths crossed in the Championship. Six defeats (including two play-off semis) and a draw are the best we have to show. But what a time to break that record Saturday is. What a chance to show that although we struggled against a Warnock team, we’ve learned from this and can do it against a Tony Pulis side.

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View from the Braemar – the Bees were outmuscled last night

I’ve woken up this morning feeling disappointed and frustrated more than anything else. I’m still immensely proud of what our team have achieved and one has to remember that Cardiff City are where they are for a reason. At the end of the day (Clive), and as one visiting supporter noted last night on Twitter: “Goals mean wins see“. I can’t argue with that.

Besides, looking to the lower end of the table a gap really is starting to form in the relegation zone. Barnsley’s draw with Norwich City last night sees them open up a three-point lead over Birmingham City. When you factor in the Blues’ inability to score and wonderful propensity to concede, the goal difference is so significant as to effectively make that difference four.

They entertain (sorry, that’s surely a breach of trades descriptions) they host Hull City on Saturday. With the Tigers running out 3-0 victors at Ipswich Town last night, they are surely safe. Three more points would all but secure this and what a time to get them.

I can’t wait for the weekend. The atmosphere is going to be huge at Griffin Park where it really is a case of win or bust in the race for the play offs.

See you there.

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The gap is starting to grow

Nick Bruzon

 

A season defining game and the chance to correct football’s biggest jinx await.

13 Mar

Well this really is an evening with everything to play for. Whilst most neutral observers may well be focussed on Manchester United and the Champions League, it is the Championship where there’s a story of genuine excitement and intrigue building. Brentford host a Cardiff City team looking to make it 7(seven) successive league wins. Victory will see them afforded a chance to draw level with a Wolves team whose seemingly unassailable lead at New Year has melted away quicker than the snow that caused this fixture to be postponed ten days ago. A gap of 12 points after they beat us in early January has now become just 3. Is it conceivable Cardiff could actually catch up with them tonight?

Let’s just cut that one stone dead in it’s tracks. Whilst something that is technically possible, I can’t see it happening. For one thing, Wolves are also in action. They host a Reading team who have offered little this season and are flirting with the relegation zone a touch too much for their liking. Thankfully for the Royals, the ongoing ineptitude of Birmingham City, Sunderland and Burton should see them home, even if their safety is acquired by accident rather than design.

More importantly, we’re also involved. Brentford thumped Millwall on Saturday in everything but goals scored. It was an extremely frustrating end to an afternoon where we did everything but score. Instead, George Saville did the needful for our genial hosts as Andreas Bjelland was left dead in the water after aggravating an Achilles problem he’d felt in the warm up.

There’s no complaints from me. We’ve been saying all season that goals, rather than possession and opportunity, are what win games. Millwall did what they needed to and then more than rode their luck. Equally though, I’m expecting Brentford to come out of the blocks flying tonight. There’s still a hope of the play offs although an eight point gap is going to need reeling in and with games running out, what better time to start than this evening?

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Functional breeze blocks. Millwall on Saturday

I also fancy Neal Maupay to prove a point tonight. I’ve no doubt that with Dean juggling his squad, the enigmatic striker will be back in the starting XI. If nothing else, he’ll have a point to prove to professional loud mouth and moron, Ian Moose. We all know what the imbecilic Talk Sport shock jock said after our sides met at the Cardiff City stadium back in November (and it wasn’t, “Happy Birthday, my good friend….”). I’m backing Neal to make him eat his own words, something that would be quite ironic given it’s normally the half-time catering that Mr. Moose has a morbid fixation with ingesting.

Expect Neal to start whilst Chris Mepham for Andreas is an absolute given. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sergi given a rest, especially knowing Cardiff’s propensity to concede second half goals. Ten of the last eleven they’ve let in have been after the sides have come back out (and I’ll thank the BBC for that one!). Likewise, could this be the time for Josh McEachran to shine? Back from injury, he’ll no doubt be knocking down Dean’s door with a point to prove.

Sky TV are in attendance tonight. I’m not surprised given what is at stake and the results have fallen wonderfully for them. Whilst Manchester United v Sevilla in the Champions League on BT is the obvious draw to the neutral, this one has got it all to play for. It has so many more sub-plots and possibilities at stake than simply whether Jose Mourinho can grind his team through to their own next round.

Even better, why not get yourself down to Griffin Park? Tickets are still available for what promises to be a potentially season defining game. For both teams. Neil Warnock is the current manager of the month and even managed to dodge ‘the jinx’ after receiving his award on Friday. Win the prize; lose your next game.

Then again, the match immediately after that was against Birmingham City. The Blues are displaying such wonderful anti-form at present they couldn’t organise a banjo in a brewery with a barn door. As such, no surprises Cardiff managed to anger the footballing gods and avoid the traditional post-award slip up.

Instead, it’s up to Brentford to right that wrong. Can The Bees do it? I can’t wait for 7.45 when we find out. See you there.

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Fully dseserved for Neil Warnock. But can The Bees correct the jinx?

Nick Bruzon

Footballer doesn’t score. Chief Exec nails it…

19 Nov

Cardiff City 2 Brentford 0. I really wasn’t going to bother today following our first defeat in 9. Then the corpulent buffet burgler Ian Moose popped up and started chucking bile around. The same Ian Moose whose beloved West Ham lost to Watford on Sunday afternoon, thus cementing their position in the Premier League relegation zone.

Newsflash: Player doesn’t score goal.

FFS, it’s desperate stuff when a man who hasn’t even been at a game , can take a cheap pot shot at a player he’s not seen not scoring a goal he hasn’t seen. Sour grapes over West Ham not signing Scott Hogan? Sour grapes over West Ham not signing Jota? Or just general sour grapes ?

Whatever the reason, it takes a certain type of twit (yeah, that is a typo) to revel in a player who has scored three goals in his previous four games not making it four from five. A player, new to the squad but finding his feet and his form in a Championship side punching well above the weight that most journos would likely apply to #teamslikeBrentford.

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You know what, it happens. And? Move along. Yet….

Not only would Mr. Moose take to Twitter to proclaim: Miss of the Season, decade, century, how can any professional footballer miss this…. @nealmaupay18 Even I’d have scored this, embarrassing miss

He then followed it up with the boast that, “I’d be happy to go to @brentfordfc training ground this week, we can recreate the play, I’ll take Neal’s place and show him how to score in such a situation

Ok, Ian. We believe you. Let’s for one second pretend that you wouldn’t actually collapse just running out of the tunnel, such are the likely state of the half time and pre-match nosh up infused arteries. But then just say, and seriously  – it takes one almighty leap beyond the bounds of credibility (and that’s just too imagine finding a shirt that would stretch over the paunch, even Buzzette’s would be straining) that Mr Moose found himself in the position.

Would he have the lungs to still be standing? Would he have the wherewithal to see the net bulge? Would he even be able to kick a ball 10 yards in a straight line? It was a free shot, not a free buffet. Certainly, history suggests otherwise.

Please, Bees. Whilst I have no doubt we’ll treat his bullshit with the contempt it deserves, please don’t give this pathetic excuse for a professional any more of the oxygen of publicity he so clearly, and desperately, craves. Keep him away from Jersey Road.

I’ve bitten. Fair dues, I’m just the numpty on the terrace and a humble blogger. He’s an apparent professional whom one would hope to know better.

Then again, with West Ham rapidly heading towards the Championship , give it 8 months and he’ll be at Brentford for real. In the FA Cup, as the Bees tag team the Hammers in the league stakes.

Diary note: Neal’s birthday is 14 August. Just remember this for next season when Mr. Moose then attempts that toe curling , desperately sycophantic please-be-my-friend shtick of ‘Happy birthday to my good friend….’. A routine that seems more aligned with allowing the TalkSport jock another chance to share a photograph which, incredibly, reveals the fact that a journalist has met somebody he is interviewing.

Roll on Tuesday night and Burton Albion. Here’s to a Maupay hat-trick. Until then we’ll leave tonight’s ‘Last Word’ to Brentford Chief Executive Mark Devlin.

Nick Bruzon

 

Cardiff. We lost. And? It was sunny.

8 Apr

Cardiff City 2 Brentford 1. Apparently. Come for the football; stay for the sunshine and Cardiff beach. On a day that saw brackets in the Championship as Norwich City beat Reading 7(seven) – 1, we are clearly at the ‘relaxed’ end of the campaign.

Those who travelled to the Cardiff City Stadium were treated to as non-commital a stroll in the sunshine as one could expect. Perhaps it was just the net result of playing 3 games in 8 days but, with mid-table safety assured and QPR 6 points behind the Bees, this one had all the feel of a pre-season friendly.

A late shout for a penalty aside, when surely Alan McCormack was felled on the edge of the box, there was little to get the blood pumping. But perhaps this alone is testament to where our team are and where we have come from.

What’s that you say? We should accept a defeat like puppies rolling over to have our tummies tickled? At the same time, whilst I can’t imagine anyone having that specific thought, the point is more a long term one.

Sure. Brentford lost. However we’re now a regular mid-table Championship team and, moreso, one with every potential to really push on next season. The post Hogan era is one which has offered nothing but goals, points and exciting football.

I’d love to have won. I’d love to have pulled Fulham ever closer to us. But we didn’t. At the same time there was an acceptance about the game. Cardiff offered nothing. Nothing.

We Are Hoilett‘, declared the big screen at one point. Whilst perhaps true, Brentford were no better. In that whilst we equalled the Bluebirds, even taking the lead as half time approached thanks to the mercurial talent of Sergi Canos, it was what felt like our first real attempt at goal. To Cardiff’s none. A lot of huff. A lot of puff. But no penetration. Neil Warnock nullifying the attacking threat of the Bees as Dean Smith was unable to find a plan B.

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But hey. Sergi had done the business. Despite the reluctance of the City scoreboard controller to acknowledge our goal, Brentford went in at half time a goal up. Surely this would be enough?

Sadly not. Failure to defend another corner (remember Burton?) was a gift to the Welsh hosts before many of the visiting fans had returned from their half time tea and a wee (other drinks/activities are available). And from there, the die was cast.

Despite Dan Bentley doing his very best, it was soon 2-1 to the hosts before everything reverted to the pre-season feel. And from that point, nothing. From either team. The Bees had the odd sortie forward, one culminating in the foul on McCormack, but there was little or nothing to get the blood pumping.

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There was a big hint outside the ground

That’s no real complaint. We’ve no divine right to win everything. The players must be on their last legs and have done nothing in recent weeks than offer encouragement for next season. Now, the season is all but at an end. Although there are still plenty of highlights left.

Good Friday at home to Derby. The trip to Barnsley where our own Buzz has the chance to avenge his alleged defeat to Toby Tyke in our early season mascot race. Then there is the small matter of games with QPR and Fulham.

Whatever the time of year. Whatever the season. Whatever our league placings. Whatever the division. Those are games where nothing but a Brentford win can be the aspiration. Games where we know how incredible a win for the Bees can feel. Games where defeat can be that emptiest of sensations.

Think of Stuart Dallas at the Cottage. Romaine Sawyers at Loftus Road. Likewise, Alan Judge being pressed into that ‘false 9’ position a season earlier. When it’s great; it’s incredible. When it’s bad then there are no words.

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View from the terrace – didn’t he hit that well

We may have lost today, but the season is still ending on a high. It is an odd feeling though.

From a personal perspective I’ve never been to an away game where the entire vibe was so relaxed. From both sets of fans. About the most that got Cardiff excited was the funfair in the car park. Perhaps one to give a wide berth to when Lionel Road is built. Even Billy Grant of Beesotted fame (and it’s always great to see our favourite fan group out and about) was in stealth mode with ne’er a selfie stick in sight. But at least he was here and still doing the much loved podcast thing. Have mobile phone, will travel.

With Simon Moore and his Sheffield United team earning promotion to the Championship today, perhaps it was ironic that we spent a sunny day in Cardiff, very much in beach mode.

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Come for the football. Stay for the newspapers

Nick Bruzon

Can Lasse grab another pizza the action at Cardiff ? Brighton do Bees a favour.

8 Apr

Brentford travel to Cardiff City today. Brighton retook the lead in the Championship from Newcastle after despatching the Loftus Road mob last night (and do us a potential favour at the same time). And FourFourTwo magazine have published their list of the match day experiences at all 92 league grounds, ranked in order from worst to best . Coventry City, look away now.

First up Brentford. And we’ll keep this brief – I’ve got a train to catch. The trip to Cardiff represents an excellent chance to continue our rise up the table following three straight victories. The latest, our 2-0 win over Leeds United on Tuesday night, being one of the most complete Brentford performances seen in recent times. It really was that good. Romaine Sawyers, Harlee Dean, Sergi Canos and Lasse were amongst those taking the headlines but, in truth, we were wonderful to a man.

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Jota watches the action unfold against Leeds on Tuesday

The flip side to all of this was injuries to Nico and Ryan, which makes both of them unlikely to start today. Alan McCormack and KK being the obvious replacements and, if supplemented by Jota along with the aforementioned Sergi and Romaine that will still make a formidable five.

Expect an unchanged defence from Tuesday (Clarke, Barbet, Dean and Rico) with Dan Bentley between the sticks and Lasse leading the line. That is, on the assumption he hasn’t got his fingers burned in a little Italian restaurant. At Brentford Lock. I think it fair to say he’s more than earned that midweek pizza.

With Brighton condemning QPR to another notch in the ‘L’ column last night, Brentford remain 6 points above our West London rivals with today’s game to come. Victory could see us rise as high as ninth although, of course, it won’t be easy.

Dean Smith’s press conference on Thursday included the very telling observation that, “ “Neil Warnock teams are very difficult to beat. He has them well organised and they will be up for every game.”

There’s no doubting Mrs Doubtfire has the Bluebirds flying once more since their early season flirtation with the lower end of the table. It won’t be easy but the chance to draw further ahead of QPR and close in on both Fulham and last season’s 9th place finish is a huge lure. Can we do it? See you at the Cardiff City stadium this afternoon when we find out.

And for those of you travelling, it you’d like some reading material for the journey (no, not the book i although if you would like to read more about the last three seasons…….)   then could I suggest the online version of FourFourTwo magazine. Specifically, the aforementioned stadium guide they published this week.

Whilst, admittedly, being somewhat out of date it does hit the mark in most places. Certainly, I’d baulk at our performance relative to some of the soulless enormobowls we’ve had the pleasure of visiting this last few seasons. After all, this is a survey of match day experience rather than stadium quality.

Then again, if ever the Lionel Road team need some inspiration then here is a chance to see what the magazine deem the best and worst in English football.

Enjoy

Nick Bruzon

Brentford draw, Swansea and Palace get Santa’s sack and 2016 is summed up in one tweet. A week (and a bit) in football – The Good , The Bad and The Ugly.

28 Dec

A bit late this week, or is it on time? The Christmas schedule always puts the calendar somewhat out of sync. Half way through the campaign and Brentford drew 2-2 with Cardiff City to shore up what is now looking like a mid-table season. At the top, Brighton’s fourth win on the bounce (this time over relegation bound QPR) saw them overtake Newcastle United in the battle to top the table. And at the other end Rotherham , Wigan and Blackburn Rovers occupy the relegation slots.

That’s the latest Championship action in nutshell. With double bank holidays throwing the calendar into confusion (today being Wednesday, I think) there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest edition of our regular, weekly-ish feature  – we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

And, as ever, we start at Griffin Park where there isn’t a huge amount to add off a game where referee Simon Hooper dominated affairs. A shame, as it meant that first time around  we were denied moments such as this…..

Meanwhile, in the first of a Tom Moore double…. does he know something about Dean Smith that we don’t? Or do Get West London need a new pictures editor?

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Tom has been keeping himself busy as he’s been covering events at hapless QPR, too. With the not so super hoops slithering down the Championship table to sit just three points above the drop zone, one can only imagine Ian Holloway is starting to shuffle uncomfortably in his own managerial hot seat. It only seems like a few months ago that he was tipping Brentford to be relegated whilst suggesting the Loftus Road outfit (currently 20th) would end the season 11th.Not that anybody will remind him of these in May….

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A bit higher up the table, Gianfranco Zola has immediately rewarded the decision of the Birmingham City board to sack Gary Rowett.

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This, something also picked up on by BBC man Phil Parry.

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Lower down the league ladder, one can only rejoice in the fact that there’s an equally big fall out from a spot kick strop as Brentford suffered after ‘that penalty’.

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In the Premier League, it was less Santa’s sack and more a managerial one. Or two. Bob Bradley was relieved of his duties at Swansea City whilst Sam Allardyce took over from Alan Pardew at Crystal Palace. It was nice to see worlds collide….

Big Sam was the instant source of further questioning following his appointment.

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Although there can’t be any chance of Mr Pardew being out of work for too long.

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Meanwhile non-league Bungay Town were quick to jockey for position despite Ryan Giggs being named as odds on favourite for the role at Swansea…

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Getting back to matters on field in the top flight, Arsenal continued to display their ambition.

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Leicester City took protests about Jamie Vardy’s suspension to another level.

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The day after Boxing Day (Tuesday?) saw Liverpool v Stoke City in the televised clash. Despite the Potters having taken a deserved lead, normal service was resumed in some style.

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The visiting manager refused to bend from his principles.

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Principles which, once reminded of, deserve a repeat viewing just to remember how short ‘short’ shorts were back in the day.

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But it wouldn’t be the festive period without a traditional Christmas message from the Queen.

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Or in the case of former Everton ‘keeper Neville Southall, an untraditional one.

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And there was a Christmas blast from the past.

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Although, ultimately, you could sum up the period (and 2016 as a whole) in one tweet.

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Finally, as ever, we close with Ian Moose and his birthday friend of the week. Which of his good friends from the world of football did the Talksport DJ wish happy birthday to, via the medium of a Twitter post and picture of them together?

Given it is a period that included December 25 I was half expecting to see him pose with Jesus. However, having checked the little book of footballing birthdays Manchester City’s Navas was born on November 21st.

Instead, this week his ‘good friend’ is none other than former Bee Chris Kamara .

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Nick Bruzon 

Christmas present from Crystal Palace helps Brentford draw with 12 man Cardiff.

27 Dec

A fair point, lucky to get away with it or robbed? Brentford and Cardiff City shared the spoils in 2-2 Boxing Day draw that sprang to life late in the second half but, prior to that, had been a game which felt as stodgy and bloated as a third helping of sprouts and Christmas pudding. Only the presence of Crystal Palace loanee Sullay Kaikai managing to save the day.

And talking of Christmas puddings (oh, the crowbarring…) referee Simon Hooper was giving out no gifts (the penalty to Cardiff for their opener, aside) as he enraged the Griffin Park faithful, management and players – with Harlee Dean being awarded a yellow card for his (correct) protests at yet another stonewall penalty being turned down.

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Harlee tells the ref what we all think and saw – c/o Beesplayer highlights (below)

It was as shocking a display of refereeing as one could hope to see. Consistently poor decision making as appeals for three nailed on spotkicks were waved away by the man in the middle. But it wasn’t just him.

The assistant on the Braemar Road side  proving absolutely no use in telling him what we could all see. Their existence on the pitch proving pointless which, ironically, was how Brentford were almost left after Cardiff had retaken the lead with minutes on the clock.

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Pointless officials almost left the Bees , erm, empty handed

One point for the visitors would have been harsh, let alone all three. They’d taken the lead in the first half with the one penalty that Mr Hooper saw fit to award, for the most innocuous of innocuous ‘challenges’ (please note: yours, and everybody else’s definition of the word ‘challenge may vary).

Yet if the Bees had been robbed we were hardly making a fight of hauling ourselves back into it. Turgid, apathetic, lazy. Every manner of ’too much Christmas dinner’ related cliche. Any of these would have been an apt description of a team that not so much failed to get going as failed to make it out onto the pitch.

With Cardiff opting to go for muscle , brawn and height there is enough talent in this team to have kept it on the deck and run rings around them. Instead, it was tedium in football form. Bounced off the challenge and as many sideways and backwards passes as attempts to take it forward dominated our play. The first half was, frankly, as entertaining as a Christmas cracker joke.

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Answers on a postcard…

An hour in, substitutions . And good ones. McEachran for Sawyers and Sullay Kaikai for Lasse Vibe. Neither had played well whilst, for whatever reasons, the form of our great Dane seems to have long gone off the boil. How he is still justifying a starting berth is confusing to many but, with the new look team in place, things did step up.

With an added positive substitution of Philipp Hofmann coming on for Bjelland, the Bees began to push. And push. The penalty appeals aside, it was surely going to be matter of time.

And then it happened. Visiting ‘keeper Brian Murphy could no longer hold off the red hoardes as, despite a number of fine saves, he finally saw his net bulge courtesy of a quite magnificent effort from Sullay Kaikai. That’s one to hit rewind for again and again once the official highlights come out (until then, we have the Sky variant available).

Mark Burridge now on hand for ‘official’ comms

But with the Bees pressing for a late winner, we were caught short. Kenneth Zohore beating the last man when played on side and, with a generous shove chucked into the mix, was able to fire the Bluebirds into an 89th minute 2-1 lead.

With fans trooping out early for the pub, and City gloating, it was dead in the water, wasn’t it? Those who stayed were rewarded for their faith. That man Kaikai popping up again to head home John Egan’s cross and salvage a point for the Bees.

We should have won this. We could have lost it. Don’t let the anti-performance of the referee or our late surge disguise the fact that we were so desperately poor for huge swathes of this game. But for the Crystal Palace man we’d have had few complaints, barring the referee, at coming away empty handed.

A team just can’t rely on arbitrary decision making from the man in the middle to determine their fate. Cardiff offered nothing beyond grunt yet even that was too sophisticated for the Bees in the opening hour.

The record books will show a point earned and, in the longer term, we’ll have few complaints. Yet I do wonder why Dean’s teams are so inconsistent and such late starters?  Why can’t we play for 90 minutes? See also : Birmingham City . Why do we just fail to turn up at times? See also: Barnsley, Norwich City and Fulham.

I’ve no issue losing but the consistency, or lack off, is perplexing. We just don’t know which Brentford we’re going to get. Here’s hoping that when we play Norwich City on New Year’s Eve it’ll be the one that humped Reading 4-1 or Preston 5-0 way back in September.

Not the Brentford who got turned over 5-0 at Carrow Road earlier this month.

On Dec 31st, we find out. See you there.

Nick Bruzon