Tag Archives: 1-0

Magnificent. Rivals thumped, humped and spanked as top of the table tightens.

15 Dec

Well that was just stunning. Another home win as Brentford beat Fulham – yet again – on Saturday to go fourth in the Championship table. It was as comfortable a 1-0 as you could hope to see. The visitor’s goalmouth leading a charmed life with the Bees hitting the woodwork three times. There’s only Preston, Leeds United (who gave an intriguing reminder of their annual ability to fall apart) and then table toppers West Bromwich Albion (also derby winners as they came from behind against Birmingham City to render Harlee Dean’s goal meaningless) above us. 

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Another wonderful win under the lights

With Barnsley hammering qpr 5-3, it was just about the perfect day of results for Brentford fans. The chief of which was, of course, at Griffin Park. In truth it never felt in doubt, the first twenty minutes aside. Fulham starting in the ascendency. Brentford dropping passes short, having no luck with the bounce of the ball and just feeling second to everything. It was a brief fancy. A posing concern that vanished as quickly as it had arrived. Fulham had their moment, even hit the post at one point (albeit David Raya had the shot covered) and then the Bees stepped it up. My word did we step it up.

Thomas Frank would talk at full time about his pre-match message to the players, “One thing. Out run them. When you feel the pain, run again.” The tactic was simple. Keep moving. Keep running. You will win. And sure enough, we did. Bryan Mbeumo got the goal that silenced the visitors and gave us the lead. Saïd Benrahma with the cross from the right although Thomas was as quick to praise Ollie for his tireless work. Not just in the move that saw Mbeumo fire home but throughout the game.

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View from the Braemar – Bryan celebrates his goal

With fans on their feet, voices raised and smiles broad (that was just Peter Gilham) we pushed on. How Ollie didn’t score I have no idea as the post came to Fulham’s rescue. It was one of those which, watching it live, had seemed as though it was just a case of waiting for the ball to hit the back of the net. Alas, not.

Next up, Pontus Jansson just before half time. The woodwork once again coming to Fulham’s rescue in front of their supporters. Apparently – I’d been dragged to the forecourt at that point by a boy in need of a hot chocolate and a wee. The spirit of BBC Billy Reeves still alive and kicking.

It could have been 2 or 3 as the players trooped in for their break but, frankly, we were winning. Forty-five minutes away from another win and a move into the play-off zone. Each and every one of us would have taken that if made the proverbial offer before kick off.

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Watching on as Pontus hits the post.

Back out and it was more of the same. Brentford tireless. Indefatigable. Unceasing in the hunt for a goal which would have secured the points. More importantly, sparing the heart conditions of more than a few people sitting around us in the Braemar. As stress levels built, Mathias Jensen did it. Yessssss. 2-0 !!!! Nooooo!! Somehow it hadn’t gone in, despite bouncing off the inside of the post, across the goal and surely over the line. Surely? 

I’m still convinced it was in but the reaction of the players and the straight back to action for them tells us that, perhaps, one of those we need to chalk up to optical illusion. Instead, it was a case of calm heads and keep on going. There was nothing to worry about. My word, the stakes were high. The desire to win second to none. I’ve not felt the ground like this in a while. The awareness of what a win meant, clear to all.

Brentford of old a team that, we all know, would have played this well and created that many chances only to see a freak goal bounce in off Alexander Orlov’s arse in the final seconds. But not this side.

Thomas Frank has instilled confidence. Pontus Jansson a colossus. Mathias Jensen pulling the strings in the middle. Rico and Henrik never stopping. Ethan Pinnock making that second centre back berth his own. Everybody playing their part. The team spirit, the smiles to each other. The handshakes and the all round camaraderie clear for all. These boys would lay down their lives for each other if it meant stopping goal going in. The post-match walk around the pitch once more a sign of how happy everything is in the camp. 

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Full time celebrations

And so rather than panic, it was more a case of running out those last three minutes of added on time. Then celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup. Yes, there really was a Leyton Orient away feel to this one. I’ll take your words and recycle them Mr. Slade. I’m not proud. But in terms of significant moments, that could be about as huge as they come.

Of course , there’s a hell of a long way to go but now we are in the top six, this is ours to claim. Ours to keep on making progress. Ours to look next at hunting down West Bromwich Albion and Leeds United. Whilst both seem well, well clear at the top we all know what Leeds do so well. Yesterday was another fine example as a 3-0 lead at home to Cardiff City ended in a 3-3 come back by the visitors. And that, with a man sent off. Could it happen again or will it be a blip….? They visit Fulham next Saturday so either way, something else has to give from the teams around us.

As for Brentford, our next action is the trip to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. The league leaders. The conquerors of Birmingham City (although that’s no major achievement these days, such is the state of a Blues team who are less ten times better and more starting to look over their shoulders where the gap from 16th to the relegation slots isn’t that far off).

It is about as tough as they come. On paper. We’ve all seen how solid West Brom are. How Romaine Sawyers has taken his game to the next level since leaving Griffin Park. And he was already firing then. But Brentford are no slouches either. Only Leeds United have a tighter defence, as it stands, and 3 of their 13 conceded came in yesterday’s Cardiff debacle. But Brentford are only on 17 against. That’s almost half the total from this time last year, if memory serves. With the goals flying in at the other end, we’re worth an extra point on GD alone.

The trip to the Hawthorns looks likes it’s going to be an absolute cracker. For now, though, let’s relax in the present and enjoy this moment. Thomas – thank you. 

What an afternoon. What a performance. What a way to head towards Christmas. As one New Road observer put it in the pub afterwards, “That was a pleasant surprise”

For me, it was very, very pleasant. But no surprise. Fulham got just what was coming to them. Brentford delivering another Christmas gift to the fans. Now bring on The Baggies.

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None shall pass

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)

 

Brentford lost in the forest.

6 Oct

That was 90 minutes we’ll never get back. Urghh. Brentford came away from Nottingham Forest on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline after a game that turned into an insomniacs wildest dream. That goes for both teams where despite a lot of huff and puff there were few chances and entertainment was at an absolute premium. The footballing equivalent of watching Mrs. Browns Boys with the volume on. Well, not quite that bad but it was certainly hard going. A masterclass in defensive solidity, with the exception of the host’s goal where they took advantage of some very generous positional play. The unmarked Ben Watson volleying home a corner that had been headed into his path by the unmarked Joe Worrall. And when The Bees had a rare break forward, Forest closed us down quicker than a small business post Brexit. Credit to them. Frustration for us.

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Defensive discipline at The City Ground

Positives? Are there any? Well we were up against one of the division’s form teams. They started the day in fourth and ended it in second. They are where they are for a reason. Sabri Lamouchi would pay Brentford compliment at full time and my guess is we’d all have been happy coming away from that one with a point. At nullifying a team with genuine aspirations for promotion. That a hard fought game on the road was the price to pay for remaining unbeaten. But that’s not how football works and that’s not what happened.

When the chance came, Watson took it. Despite over half an hour to go there was an almost palpable feeling of dread and expectation as to how this would now finish. That didn’t stop the Brentford fans from cheering the boys on. If anything, the noise was even louder in an attempt to drown out the singing that had finally started from the home supporters. Mind you, if ‘Mull of Kintyre’ was our ‘go to’ song, I can imagine we’d be quiet too. Hey, at least it’s not ‘Hi-ho Silver Lining’. Or some of the other dreadful efforts for the McCartney back-catalogue. ‘Spies Like Us’ or ‘The Girl Is Mine’, anyone? 

Dreadful film. Even worse theme tune

Yet despite the ever vocal exhortations from The Bees faithful there was no way through. Forest too disciplined at the back to be troubled by a somewhat off-colour looking Brentford forward line. Too quick to break and avert any threat of potential danger. Leading goal scorer Ollie Watkins drifting out wide time and again, leaving the central role vacant. Nikos Karelis given far too little time to make any impact. Sergi Canos forced to limp off the pitch with all our subs having been used.   

I saw a tweet from Brentford official whilst travelling home, quoting David Raya. His observation that “‘The game plan was going well at half-time, then we switched off for one second and conceded a goal” telling us all we needed to know about this one. Containment was the order of the day. Stifle the hosts. Pick up a point. We didn’t look close to threatening, let alone scoring. The one real save that home ‘keeper Brice Samba was forced in to making came when a Mathias Jensen free kick took a wicked deflection and momentarily threatened his unmblemished net. However, he moves well for a big man and was very much Forest’s Jensen interceptor.

Overall, it was poor viewing and a struggle on pitch. We’ve got great players and I’m utterly convinced it will come very good, very soon. Thomas Frank is a wonderful motivator and certainly has a challenge on his hands as to how he fits the pieces together. I’m not joining the vitriolic Twitterati in calling for a sacking. Anything but. However, he does have to figure out if Ollie Watkins is the solution to our centre forward conundrum, do we give Nikos a few starts (assuming fitness is not an issue) or is it just a case off hanging in there until January when the transfer of Halil Dervişoğlu from Sparta Rotterdam completes? Yesterday saw us looking dreadfully lopsided. It’s fine against the weaker teams such as Derby County and Barnsley. Not quite so good against a disciplined outfit. 

Either way, the international break is well timed. We can all cool off. We can all forget about a dreadful game of football. We can all put our feet up until visit of Millwall. At least, on the supporter side. I’d imagine for the players things may be somewhat different…..

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Nick Bruzon

No falling apart, this time, as shrewd loanees help the hosts.

22 Aug

There’s not much to say, really. Congratulations Leeds United after a rare victory over Brentford last night. A 1-0 win at Elland Road returned the home side to the top of the Championship table after a game that could have gone either way. But didn’t. Arsenal loanee Eddie Nketiah’s late strike via Wolves loanee Helder Costa was the ultimate difference between the two sides. It was a game where Bees new boy Bryan Mbuemo came within a lick of paint from seeing his first half strike find the back of the net from the inside of  the post and substitute Saïd Benrahama could have levelled things at the death. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Leeds failed to fall apart. Instead, we must focus on another road (and river) trip this Saturday with Charlton (a) next on the agenda.

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The only stat that counts. Sadly.

Brentford started this one on top. The view afforded via the Sky Sorts smudge vision option saw us dominant in the opening period but chances were at a premium despite possession. Oh, for a pound every time that phrase were used. The aforementioned Mbuemo effort about as close as it got, the wideman shooting from outside the edge of the box and across the face of the goal only to see his shot beat ‘keeper Casilla before bouncing back across the six yard box via the edge of the back stick. Half time came with the hosts finding their feet and the chance of a break in the action probably a welcome one for Thomas Frank.

Yet instead of allowing us to pick up the pace once more, the second period began as the first had ended. Leeds on the front foot and the Bees hanging on. It was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened. The game had that feeling about it and, sure enough, with less than ten minutes to go the net rippled. Nketiah making no mistake from close in after Costa’s wonderful run and cross. Inch perfect box delivery to rival the pizzas being eaten on our couch as this one unfolded (although not from a little Italian restaurant. At Brentford Lock). Hey, there has to be some compensation for missing out on seeing this one live.

That the move for the goal started with a clear foul on Benrahma was almost a moot point. There was still plenty enough time to stop the rampaging Leeds hordes but the pace of Costa and the positional awareness of Nketiah proved vital. It was a finish akin to Sergi and Ollie at Middlesbrough and showed how well Marcelo Bielsa has played the loan market. Being able to take players from Premiership Arsenal and Wolves certainly paying dividends for a team whose record in the Championship is now WDWW. 

It was disappointing more than anything else as on a different night we could easily have had a point. It wasn’t that Leeds were streets ahead but they took their chance whilst the longer the game went on the more it felt as though they were in control. Saïd could have taken the point late on but blazed over. It wasn’t to be and there are no sour grapes.  Besides, you’ve likely seen it all by now and, if not, the main action is up on the Sky website. We don’t particularly do match reports on these pages and there’s always the likes of the BBC, Beesotted or ‘official’ if you want any greater analysis. By which I mean any analysis.

I’m not sure what else to say at this juncture. One could take pleasure for another defeat suffered by QPR. Another penalty given away by Yoann Barbet. Another season where we are already ahead of the hapless hoops.  But with Fulham already up into the top three, let’s adopt the philosophy that with the table in fledgling state we need a good ten games before it is deemed to have ‘fully formed’. It is a mantra I have long stuck to and see no reason to change this time around.

Four games in is far too early to know who are the whipping boys and who are looking good for a fast track to the top flight. Besides, last season proved that running away with things early means nothing if the wheels fall off at the death. Just ask Leeds.

Instead, it’s Charlton next. They are currently unbeaten but the trip to The Valley is usually a wonderful occasion. A full house is guaranteed by the visiting fans with the short hop across London on a hot day something that will be enjoyed by all. Hopefully, we’ll be feeling the same at 5pm…..

See you there.

bees fans leave charlton shit

Hopefully the result will be better on Saturday

Nick Bruzon  

Prince William. Tom Hanks. David Cameron. Simon Hateley. Your boys took one hell of a beating. Again

13 Feb

Come on, Aston Villa. Perhaps one day you’ll give Brentford a game. One can’t even begin to describe the performance and dominance tonight as Thomas Frank’s Bees made it three on the spin at home to the Villans. Chuck in three away draws and that’s a mighty impressive record against the one time European Champions (1982 in Rotterdam, in case you hadn’t heard it mentioned before). Dean Smith’s return to Griffin Park was anything but a happy one as we warmed up for Sunday’s FA Cup fifth round tie at Swansea City in mightily impressive form. 

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Romaine brings the ball out of the back

It was another case of true domination against Villa. We’ve all been used to it over the last few seasons but this was about as one sided as it came. The visitor’s midfield was non-existent. Only a mass of bodies at the back, and the vagaries of our ‘referee’ Gavin Ward, keeping Brentford out. Yet the fact that it took injury time before Neal Maupay finally found the net made the eventual result all the sweeter.

It had never seemed in doubt from the first few minutes as Aston Vila were put on the immediate backfoot. It was a position from which they struggled to make any inroads but, and as we’ve said many times is the thing that actually counts in football, Brentford were unable to make the possession count. Brentford were unable to find the back of the net. Brentford looked like they may finally drop two points at home to Villa. Then that man Maupay stepped up and did his thing.

Oh my word, what a goal. What an explosion of ecstasy and relief from the crowd. What a finish as Maupay burst clear into the box before curling it high into the top corner. Visiting goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic left rooted to the spot as ball flew past him. Unable to do anything more beyond turning to watch the ball make the net ripple from the sweetest of strikes.

I’m struggling to remember specifics at present. The brain is a blur of excitement and relief. Despite outplaying our illustrious opponents for huge swathes of the game, we’d been unable to find a way though. The impressive Sergi Canos forcing a fine early save from Kalinic in the first half to set the tone for what followed in all aspects beyond the actual scoring of a goal. Here’s hoping he’s fit for Sunday and the injury related substitution was nothing more than a precaution. 

Even the most ardent of Brentford supporters were perhaps beginning to feel that this one may have to go down as an opportunity missed. Neal Maupay thought otherwise. It was one of those where you HAD to be there. I’m sure it was great on TV but the communal outpouring of celebration as the goal went in was one of THE moments of a season that is rapidly building pace to a frenzied denouement. Whilst one has to appreciate there were those who missed this game through their own personal circumstances, those choosing to deliberately stay away are missing out on something quite wonderful. 

Of course Warbs, Dean and Thomas have all played their parts in quite magnificent style but you have to doff your cap to Matthew Benham and the current regime at the helm of the club. Their vision and guidance has brought through the likes of Said Benrahma, Sergi Canos and Neal Maupay. Ezri and Julian continue to impress at the back. Long term Bee Yoann Barbet continues to exude enthusiasm from every pore. The last player to come in from the warm up and one of the last to leave the field of play at full time.It really is a special time to support Brentford.

That said, Thomas named a side without a traditional right back that instead chose to take the game to their illustrious opponents. Perhaps here was the answer to how you fit Watkins, Benrahma and wing back Sergi Canos (not a typo) into the same team. Moses Odubajo on the other side pushing an extremely high line as Villa struggled to get out of their own half. It was delightful to watch.   

Full time came with a traditional response from Dean Smith. Catching up with the replay upon the return home, he opined to Sky how it was, “On the scale of chances, not what we deserve”. Come on Dean, next you’ll be telling us that Villa won the European Cup. For once, don’t do press by rote. Just try and tell it like it was. This was as one sided a game as I’ve seen since the last time Villa visited this part of West London. Prince William. Tom Hanks. David Cameron. Simon Hateley  – your boys took one hell of a beating. Again. 

Where I would agree with Dean is his commentary about the referee. He’s always been one to say it like it is when it comes to the man in the middle and here he was spot on as he observed, “I’ve said this season the refereeing has been pathetic at times.” Truly, Gavin Ward was a nightmare. A Keith Stroud in Bobby Madley’s clothing. Penalties denied. Advantages pulled back. Decisions made with all the authority of a roulette ball trying to find an eventual resting place. How lovely would it be to have a referee and linos who get on with the game rather than instil a pre-match level of dread which is then fulfilled as proceedings get underway.  

The flip side to all this being that we won. Nobody will care that Gavin did once more what Gavin does so often. All that counts are the three points. 

Now bring on Swansea City and the FA Cup.

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Said takes the plaudits at full time

Nick Bruzon

Almost 24 hours on and it still feels fantastic.

11 Apr

Almost 24 hours later and I’m still buzzing. Having spent the last ten days on a very rare holiday, following Brentford has been that bit trickier than normal. Yet what do when the last night abroad coincided with our game at Nottingham Forest? Rather than stay in a hotel room with Mark Burridge whispering sweet nothings into my ear (via the medium of I-follow) instead it was a trip outside to find somewhere showing the Champions League thriller between Manchester City and Liverpool. That said, thanks to the joy of WhatsApp and Twitter pretty much all of my attention was focussed on updates from The City Ground rather than the TV in Popeyes bar, Lanzarote. A third 1-0 win in a row for The Bees, secured via a late strike from Henrik Dalsgaard, saw Brentford move to within four points of sixth placed Millwall with just four games to go. The most unlikely of play-off dreams remains alive and it makes Saturday’s game with a Fulham team whose own victory propelled them into the ‘automatic’ places even more significant than it already was.

Just four points to Millwall in sixth. Just four points to Derby County in fifth (albeit The Rams have two games in hand). Brentford held their nerve last night in a match which, statistically speaking, seemed to pour scorn on Forest’s recent record of failing to trouble the scorers for five straight games as shot followed shot. Despite hitting the woodwork twice in the opening period, Daniel Bentley’s goalmouth once again remained untouched. Despite 16 attempts, 3 on target, there was no way through for the home team.

Rather, it was the stooping Dalsgaard who got on the end of former captain Josh McEachran’s 81st minute corner to frustrate Nottingham Forest again. You have to feel for the home fans but, being quite selfish, that’s their issue. Instead, Popeyes erupted to a quite unexpected shriek of delight that had absolutely nothing to do with Liverpool snuffing out another Manchester City attack. Nothing to do with seeing Birmingham City en-route to yet another defeat; this time at Bristol City. Nothing to do with Roma making it 3-0 against Barcelona and thus lined up to progress on ‘away goals’. Instead, it had everything to do with our Danish international full back giving us the lead with less than ten minutes remaining.

And then the waiting game began. Waiting for the internet to refresh. Waiting for another Euro 3.00 beer to reach the table. Waiting to see if Brentford could hang on. Waiting to see if Barnsley could snatch a late equaliser at Portman Road. Sadly, the Tykes couldn’t. Whilst people all around me were in awe at events unfolding in both Manchester and Rome, there was one corner of a foreign pub that was forever Brentford. And it was beautiful.

Ding: Another WhatsApp message. The trumpet ‘emoji’.
Ding: Yes!!!!

We’d hung on. Oh my, that was quite remarkable. Quick. Where is that ‘As it stands’ table? Ah. There we go. What a sight. What a time for Brentford to narrow the gap. What a game awaits on Saturday afternoon. If you haven’t got a ticket for The Cottage then what are you waiting for? This could be even bigger than the 4-1 in terms of brilliance. The potential double whammy of railroading the Fulham promotion push whilst increasing our own chances. Could it be that game at Leyton Orient all over again? If we celebrated three points there like the FA Cup, victory at The Cottage would see Champions League levels of ecstasy.

Whilst Millwall are still in the box seat as play-off dark horses, if Brentford can keep up this wonderful run then who knows? Imagine. Could it end up a Fulham v Brentford play-off final, even? Win on Saturday and anything is possible. Call it the cabin pressure at 37,000 feet, but flying home now I feel euphoric about all things football. I feel as though anything could happen. We’ve even got Ryan Woods available once more.

Seeing what Liverpool and Roma achieved last night should be sufficient evidence that this most beautiful of games can continue to surprise us. Nothing is certain until that final whistle blows. Results really can defy expectation.

But for now, it has to be as much a time for reflection on overcoming what could have been a very tricky hurdle at Nottingham Forest. Take nothing away from our opponents. Opponents who, at least as far as yours truly is concerned, have remained nothing but sporting. This was a HUGE result in a season that has the potential to match our own first back in The Championship. The season of Mark Warburton and a play-off semi with Middlesbrough when all the results aligned on the final round of games to elevate us to fifth in the table.

Could similar happen again? Who knows but I’ll tell you one thing – I can’t wait to find out. Roll on Saturday and Fulham.

See you there….

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Following Brentford. From Lanzarote. Via the Champions League.

Nick Bruzon

One down. Five to go. We’re still in this.

8 Apr

One down, five to go. Brentford made it back to back wins as Neal Maupay’s penalty and Daniel Bentley’s record (at this level for a Bees ‘keeper) 14th clean sheet of the campaign proved to be the difference over an Ipswich Town side that began the game with Luke Hyam in the team and ended it with 10 players after running out of substitutes. Whilst, as ever, the likes of Beesotted and ‘official’ are usually the places to go for your match reports, in this case they really are. For reasons out of my control I had to miss this one. Instead of sitting at Griffin Park, I found myself holed up in a random pub with some random Barnsley fans (amongst others), watching the Merseyside derby and getting somewhat over excited by the Tykes comeback against Sheffield United. This before Birmingham City managed an 87th minute equaliser against fellow relegation candidates Burton Albion that brought everybody present back down to earth with a bump.

By that point though, it was too late to be overly concerned. Much as I’d love to see ‘ten times better’ Birmingham slip through the relegation trapdoor, primary focus has to be on Brentford. We’d absolutely done the needful despite a butt clenching final few minutes of time added on that had been spent waiting for the scores to refresh and confirm our 1-0 victory.

To be honest, I had considered spending the afternoon with Mark Burridge sneaking into my ear via a discreetly placed headphone. However, despite the wise words normally spoken by our commentator par excellence the lure of another beer in the afternoon sunshine and the somewhat less appealing prospect of Stoke City v Spurs on TV won out.

In a way, I’m glad. Not so much the sitting through the Stoke game (if ever there was any added incentive needed to go for the play-offs then just the prospect of bypassing them in the divisions should be sufficient) but more missing out on a match that sounded hard work. With Mick McCarthy setting his Ipswich team up on us man for man, it was always going to be a tough one for the fans. If you had to miss a game then in retrospect, and from a footballing perspective, this one sounds like it was up there.

Flicking through social media at full time, Chief Executive Mark Devlin seems to have summarised the feelings of most fans when he noted : “Thanks for your support and well done to the team. It was by no means a classic but the players got the job done.”

Likewise, Bees boss Dean Smith was quick to pay tribute to both his counterpart and the opposition. His post match interview (which you can catch up on in full over on ‘official’) includes the observation that Ipswich “Made it very difficult for us to get our free-flowing football going. We found chances hard to come by. We were due a penalty like that; it was soft and I would be slightly annoyed if it was given against us.

Hey, sometimes you just have to take the chances when they are offered. At this stage in the game, a win is a win. Whether scrappy, deserved, fortunate or other. That gap to the playoffs remains five points with five games to go. It’s all about getting the result and that’s what Brentford did. Whilst it may not have sounded like the most aesthetically pleasing performance, you get a feeling of what this one meant to all concerned. MrJamie88 summarising it quite beautifully on Twitter, with a bit of help from Sergi Canos.

Next up, the trip to Nottingham Forest awaits on Tuesday. There are five games to go. Five mini cup finals. Keep picking up the wins and I’ve no doubt we’ll be celebrating like a certain Russell Slade once so famously opined. Cliche alert but…..it really is about taking one game at a time whilst, perhaps, hoping for a favour along the way. It happened in 91/92; it could happen again.

Yet without wanting to get too far ahead of ourselves, at the bottom end of the table I’ve got half an eye on Barnsley. Yesterday showed yet again why I’d love them to stay up. Great fans and great camaraderie. There’s the added incentive that their safety would put even more pressure on Garry Monk’s Birmingham City team. With our final away game of the campaign being a trip to Oakwell, how big could that one turn out to be? Hopefully their fate will be well sealed by that point – in a positive way. Hopefully we’ll have carried on picking up the points that will make that game of quintessential relevance.

Before that, though, we’ve the Forest game and then a West London derby double header . First the trip to Fulham and then the home game with QPR. With just that handful of games to go, the season has got a ridiculous amount of fun left in it still and I can’t wait.

As one final word of note, how great to have Alan Judge back in a Griffin Park starting XI. Moreso given the opposition and their own line up. I won’t deny I felt a genuine pang of excitement when the team sheet was published at 2pm. What a journey back from the depths. What a team to do it against.

Nice one, Alan.

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The view from Griffin Park

Nick Bruzon

 

A game of two ‘best’ teams sees the ultimate in smash and grabs.

11 Mar

Millwall 1 Brentford 0. That’s what the record books will say and we’ll have to respect that. Yet if ever there was to be a lesson in taking your chance then here it was . Millwall had one notable effort on goal, former Bee Gerorge Saville sliding it under Daniel Bentley with less than a minute on the clock, and that was it in terms of noteable opportunities. The ultimate smash and grab. It was a goal that saw Andreas Bjelland pick up an injury in the build up that left him prostrate on the ground as Saville broke clear. It was his last meaningful action as the great Dane was then replaced by wunderkind Chris Mepham.

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The red shorted Bees prepare to start. Less than a minute later…..

It had the feel of being one of those days. The Bees, for reasons unknown, turning out in red shorts (here’s hoping we see them again) looked magnificent but couldn’t quite convert pressure and chances into goals. Yoann Barbet had an almost immediate reply chalked off for off-side after an interminable wait for the linesman to do his thing. With the combination of Stuart Attwell in the middle and Keith Stroud on fourth official duties it was always going to be a big ask getting something from the men in the middle. Bees fans were left frustrated after seeing this seemingly legitimate effort ruled out. A subsequent viewing on the sky highlights has confirmed that, to be fair, it seemed the correct call despite the interminable wait for the linesman to do his thing. Then again, the angle is not directly in line so who knows? Where’s the wonky ruler and VAR when you need it?

The second period saw Sergi Canos hit the post from distance with goalkeeper Archer left rooted to the spot aswell as  blazing over when a pass might have been the better option. John Egan came oh so close after being left totally unmarked in acres of space. His powerful header bounced back off the crossbar with goalkeeper Archer left rooted to the spot. As for Henrik Dalsgaard, pushing high up on the right his reward for a strong performance (in my opinion) was to see a goal bound shot cleared off the line with goalkeeper Archer not so much left rooted to the spot as scrabbling around in the mud.

Millwall – they got away with it. That’s for sure. They were, at best, workmanlike. Goals are what win games and so you can’t deny them their three points. They deserved them on that basis whilst Brentford didn’t quite have the run of the green. At times we looked too flat whilst the build-up play was laboured. When the chances came, that lack of clinical finish cost us dearly. However, any talk of the play-offs on the Lions’ side is something which will only conclude with an unhappy ending.

Millwall manager Neil Harris was in cagey form at full time. Noting that, “The best side won the game 1-0, the best side always wins the game – that’s the result“. Dean Smith, on the other hand, thought that, “The better team got beat today” also adding that “but for the woodwork and the people on the line we would have won“.

So who was the best team? Well, clearly anybody with a pair of eyes in their head would have seen that was Brentford, based on the day’s performance. But, and Harris is right on this one, it’s goals that count. So often Dean has said that we have deserved to win games that we lost or drew, but didn’t quite reach for that line yesterday. Based on what I saw play out in front of me, he’d have been justified to use it on this occasion.

As a side note, what was with the red shorts that the Bees wore.? Certainly, kit clash shouldn’t have been an issue with the Lions turning out in white. If anything, Dan Bentley’s all black against their very dark blue shirts might have presented more of a problem. Although purely on the balance of play, there wasn’t really any chance of a blue shirt being seen near his kit.

Reaction on social media seemed to be mixed, at best. Personally, I think this heavier red bias is a great look and certainly wouldn’t be upset to see this back again. What’s wrong with a bit of change every now and again?

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Man of the match Ryan Woods showing off that ‘red’ in full

Black, red or white – it would have made no difference to the end result. Sadly, it looks like we’ll be heading back to The ‘New’ Den next season. An awful breeze block stadium that is as functional as the football team who fill it. Say what you like about Millwall and Cold Blow Lane but at least that place had some atmosphere. Bloody terrifying most of the time. These days the Lion’s den is nothing more than a toothless shell of their former home. A faded, concrete carbuncle of a lair. If ever there was a lesson needed in how not to build Lionel Road then here it is.

Instead, it looks like we’ll be back to more of that pre-kick off song about jellied eels, glasses of beer and coming down to the Den (Let ‘Em Come by Roy Green, for the record). I was half–expecting Dick van Dyke to start his step in time routine as the players came out for kick-off . Having missed out on this last season I’d forgotten just how cringey this gumph is.

If the club needed any incentive in reaching for the Premier League then it shouldn’t be the lure of switching places with the likes of West Ham or Crystal Palace but simply the chance to avoid that awful, awful song.

Roll on Tuesday night and the visit of Cardiff City to see if there’s any chance of this happening….

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Functional breeze blocks. Millwall & The (new) Den.

Nick Bruzon

Football is back as Blades set the standard and Bees miss out.

6 Aug

Another season begins, another round of opening day disappointment for Brentford. The Bees left Sheffield United on the wrong end of a 1-0 defeat which could have been more – the second of the hosts two disallowed goals subsequently being deemed very unlucky to be chalked off. Yet on a day dominated by home teams where only three away goals were scored in the Championship, including one for Hull City in their 1-1 at Aston Villa (as predicted yesterday – I’m still in shock), Bees fans should remain upbeat.

And if you’d like to read more whilst helping the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust …. the rest of this article can now be found in the Kindle e-book Ten Times Better. Brentford FC Season review: 2017/18. Inspired by ‘that’ interview it contains the least bad of these columns in one, handy volume as it looks at our own campaign as well as wider divisional life and the promotion / relegation races.

As a bonus there’s a whole host of new material. New that is, for my pages. Specifically, all the programme articles submitted (both home and away where, if nothing else, you can get the original versions of both Birmingham City and Millwall).

In addition, There Is No Plan B. Brentford FC Season reviews: 2013/14 – 2017/18 takes us all the way back to the start of this latest leg in the journey. That penalty. League One. Harlee Dean was a hero. Jota was something we thought happened to the temperature for one week in July. Alan Judge had joined on loan whilst the Marinus Experiment was something nobody had contemplated. Bringing things bang up to date by the inclusion of this year’s volume alongside the four previously published campaign round ups, it has five seasons in one weighty tome. As weighty as a download can be, that is.

Relive the memories. See how often the same material gets regurgitated. Remind yourself about the likes of Betinho, Martin Fillo, Javi Venta and Marcos Tebar. Certainly, if there’s no Marcos Tea Bar at Lionel Road it will be an opportunity missed.

All proceeds from any sales will go to the Community Sports Trust. For less than the cost of a half / pint respectively, they may help while away some time on the commute. By the pool on holiday. In the bathroom. Who knows? It will certainly do some good for the Trust, whose work has been well documented at Griffin Park but you can read all about it on their site.

And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve been given something very special. A 2017/18 third team shirt with Lewis Macleod’s squad number on the reverse in the EFL typeface. Anyone with half an interest in Bees kits will know that these were never made available in the club shop.  Anyone who has read any of this before will know what a kit nerd yours truly is so when I say this is rare, take that in good faith!

To be in with a chance of owning it, download a copy of either before the end of June 2018 and you’ll go into a draw to win this. Just DM/tweet me (@NickBruzon) a copy of your purchase confirmation mail and I’ll add your name to the list before selecting a random Bees fan to win this on July 1st.

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Nick Bruzon

Derby day is here. West London’s finest, and also QPR, meet at Griffin Park.

22 Apr

Brentford entertain QPR today in a game where a home win will see the Bees pull 13 points clear of our neighbours and up to a possible 9th spot in the Championship table. But can we do it?

The heart says yes. The head says that anything can happen in a local encounter, none moreso as passionate one as the 237 derby. Especially when the visitors are sitting just a handful of points above the relegation slots. And whilst, surely, the likes of Mark Warburton’s Nottingham Forest or even Birmingham City will be the ones to make a late entry into that particular battle, pressure can do funny things.

So Dean Smith’s team talk today will be key. But what will he say? I’ve no idea, being the numpty on the terrace rather than anybody even vaguely close to the inner circle of the Brentford hierarchy. But if I was in his shoes then a leaf from the big book of Harlee might be the way forward – pinning up a few things on the dressing room wall.

Dean , if you are reading ( you aren’t) then here’s a few to get started…

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The game, last season

 

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The away game this season saw Dean’s Bees rise to the occasion

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Worst.Hashtag.Ever.

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Pundit Ian Holloway’s words have come back to haunt him….

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…as demonstrated by the current table.

QPR tweet

This actually appeared on Twitter yesterday

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50 years on, who now has the upper hand?

Nick Bruzon