Tag Archives: 1-0

Banging the drum for our Triple J.

25 Nov

Another game unbeaten. Another clean sheet. Another goal for Ivan Toney. Another three points for Thomas Frank’s squad. Brentford left Oakwell on the right end of a 1-0 win over Barnsley on Tuesday. The run now up to six games without defeat whilst conceding a mere two goals over that period. The Bees are sitting within touching distance of the play-off zone – up to eighth in the Championship table ahead of tonight’s fixtures. Then there’s the small matter of the game on Friday night. A televised visit from the Shepherds Bush outfit.

Ivan does it again

The obvious talking point ahead of kick-off was the team announcement. Ghoddos out. Canos out. Janelt and Fosu both starting whilst Ethan Pinnock also made a return. No arguments with any of that although Mads Bech can perhaps count himself unlucky after impressing to date. As noted last time out, the performances against Wycombe and Middlesbrough had been somewhat of a ‘challenge’ to sit through. Defensively sound but stifled creatively. Most of the midfield / attacking force failing to impress and, whilst I still can’t get my head around the vitriol directed towards one player, it was clear some changes were needed.

Change is what we got. The addition of Janelt to the centre of the park adding more solidity. Doing to Barnsley what had been done to us in recent weeks. Good luck Thomas Frank once Christian Norgaard is fit ! With it came the added confidence to push up. Tarique Fosu finally unleashed and having a blinder, too. An early shot from the edge of the box coming close but Jack Walton in nets managed to keep it out. Rico Henry could also count himself unlucky with a similar effort as Brentford went for it from the off before the game settled down.  One smart stop from Raya aside, there was little else to recall. Barnsley barely given a chance to threaten as the Bees waited for what seemed like the inevitable goal. 

It was only a matter of time, suggested Mick Cabble on the Iplayer comms team. Mind you, we’d felt the same against Middlesbrough and Wycombe, only to see them end in those insipid 0-0 draws. This one was different though. The second half began with Marcondes (2019/20’s Canos – we need one every season, it seems) on for Josh Dasilva. All being well that’s nothing more than precautionary. Like Rico, Ethan, David and Ivan he’s been up there in our best and most consistent performers so far. Long may that continue – especially with Friday’s big one approaching.

Brentford pushed up once more (the absence of that chant another reason to abhor the current situation of empty stadia).  Mbeumo came close before who else but Ivan Toney was there to remind us of the way to goal? With just over an hour gone, he rose like a salmon to guide home a Mathias Jensen corner. 1-0. Game on. Pressure off. It really was a precision effort. The technique and the steer all about what made this one. Placement over power as Walton was left with a mountain to climb trying to get even half-way close.

It could have been double almost straight after. Toney charging Walton to force a hurried clearance which fell to Mbeumo via Marcondes. The wideman broke forward, sofas at home already relived of the pressure as we all leapt to our feet in anticipation. Nooo. He fired just high and just wide. It could, probably should, have been two. I can imagine the Twitter meltdown had it been another player 😉 . Instead of cruising over the line we were left hanging on to the thought that one freak moment, one mishap and things would be level. But it wasn’t to be. 

Canos and Forss both made it on to the pitch late, with the former cueing up the later for a chance that – like Mbeumo – the player may well be frustrated about not burying. That’s football. We got the win and the record books will reflect three more points to Brentford. The table does’t lie and we wake up this morning to see the Bees just one win away from third placed Bristol City. Frank out !

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, that’s for sure. I’ve never professed to be an expert when it comes to football but at the same time, it was clear something hasn’t been working. Personally speaking,  I loved the combination of Janelt, Josh and Jensen in the middle and will certainly be banging the drum for our Triple J once again. Probably a little more niche than the BMW or FT Index but if you know you know.

Niche

Of what is probably broader discussion on social media, could Thomas Frank’s rolling of the dice marked Fosu prove to be a key moment in the season? Certainly Tarique took his chance in some style and must be a shoe in for Friday. Only time will tell on the anger term choices but with the games coming non-stop, it won’t be the last change we see. Sergi will be back. So will Saman. Sometimes those selections will be expected. Others, not so. That’s the one thing we have been calling all season – that squad use is going to be pivotal. If for no other reason than the increased substitution ruling has given more flexibility. Yesterday’s game already seeing us make four changes mid-match.

For now, I can’t see any change for Friday. Injury aside. We’ve continued to look solid at the back but despite ‘only’ scoring one goal, it never felt in doubt. There was confidence and attacking intent. A midweek trip to Yorkshire in the cold has all the appeal of sitting down to watch the Mrs Browns Boys Christmas special (warning – it IS coming back. Again. Like cockroaches, I can imagine Mrs. Brown and her cardigan would be the only thing to survive nuclear war). 

However, we rose to the challenge and held firm when it counted. There won’t be any amongst us who wouldn’t have taken a 1-0 had it, somehow, been able to be offered prior to kick off. With Quarter Pound off Rubbish next up, Brentford couldn’t have found a better time to return to winning ways. Now, over to you Peter Gilham. Something about a team talk….

You know it would happen

Nick Bruzon

Luke rushes to save his loved ones. Will Raya force a move?

13 Sep

That was quite frustrating. We outplayed them and outbattled them, created four major chances and they did nothing. We had 13 shots, they had one and our keeper hardly touched the ball”. Not my words but those of Brentford head coach Thomas Frank after going down 1-0 in the season opener to Birmingham City…… in 2019. Fast forward 12 months and it was a case of deja-vu. Lesson not learned and chances not taken. Blues running out 1-0 in winners in a game where they created few opportunities but did the all important thing of converting. No complaints. Well done. With the Arsenal & Aston Villa talk still hanging around like a bad smell, David Raya missed this through injury. In a game of few opportunities created by the hosts we could have played Luke Skywalker rather than Luke Daniels and it would have made no significant difference (one sharp save early on aside). The goal, when it came, as much due to non-existent marking. It was an opening gratefully accepted by Jeremie Bela as he headed home a corner at the near post just prior to half-time.

We created seven big chances today……They scored on the only big chance they had, they had maybe one or two half chances and didn’t create anything besides that.” Those WERE Thomas’ words after this one and he’s right.

Sergi was on fire throughout and hit the crossbar with a bicycle kick in the second period after Josh Dasilva had rattled the post in the first. Mbeumo Barbet’d one in the first half and flashed a shot across the face of goal in the second. That’s not to mention two very strong penalty shouts – one in each period. First, Harlee Dean with all the finesse of a juggernaut and then Pontus Jansson unceremoniously man-handled later in the game. That’s before we even mention several scrambles where rock solid, last-gasp defending prevented Blues’ line form being breached.

I’ve no issue with the result. Well done Birmingham City. They did what they had to at both ends and that’s how you win football matches. Pretty play and passing counts for nothing if you can’t convert. The league table doesn’t have an additional column for ‘deserving to win’ (except, perhaps, at Aston Villa – oh Dean, I do love your post match conferences). Brentford sit on Played: 1, Points: 0 . That’s a fact.

Yet, at the same time, we’ve a team re-finding their feet. Put Raya to one side. Whether injured or half-way to Arsenal, it was in the attacking third that things didn’t quite work out yesterday. That cosmic understanding between the BMW disrupted by the fact that only one of them was on pitch. Whether Benrahama will return remains to be seen but the smart money is on planning for life without him.

That goal busting form will come once more as the new look line up starts to gel. Sergi Canos was chomping at the bit and Mbeumo are into it. There’s already the option of Marcus Forss on the bench and, let’s not forget, it wasn’t as though we didn’t create chances. We did. Sadly for the Bees, Birmingham City were equal to the task. The woodwork taking heavy punishment. Referee Tony Harrington choosing not to award a spot kick. On another day…

The season Newcastle United were Champions they lost the first two. The year Bournemouth bought their way up, it took until November to start firing. Even Brentford had the slowest of starts last campaign before we hit that wonderful hot streak. The doom and gloom already being seen one game in is, of course, to be expected (it wouldn’t be football otherwise) but I’m more frustrated than in panic mode.

The talk this morning is that Emiliano Martinez is Aston Villa bound. Arsenal have, apparently, agreed a £20m deal with Aston Villa following the decision that Jay Leno will be first choice at the Emirates. The scrutiny on the Bees will only increase should that transpire. If David Raya IS injured then we wish him a speedy recovery. If he wants to be a number two then that’s his call, of course.

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I’d love him to stay. I’ll happily take the cash if he doesn’t want to be a part of this. No matter how cynical one gets about pre-season injuries and trips to the beach for our coveted players, this team always finds a way to grow. Look at how Ollie Watkins stepped in to cover off Neal Maupay last time out. Could this end up being the same opportunity for Luke Daniels? Or will David be back for the visit of Huddersfield on Saturday?

It wouldn’t be Brentford if it were any other way.

And finally… e-book, season review etc etc. If you’d like to read more then you can still pick up 2019-20 for free, here. Time really is ticking on this one now so move fast before Amazon stick a price back on them (at which point any proceeds received go to the Community Sports Trust). From Birmingham City to Ollie Watkins and beyond….

Enjoy.

Simon Moore famously went to Cardiff beach

Nick Bruzon

Top, top football. Just two more to go….

16 Jul

And relax. For now. Brentford have done it again. This time with a hard fought 1-0 at home to Preston North End. That’s eight wins in a row and the gap to second placed West Bromwich Albion cut to a single point with two games to go. Ollie Watkins got the goal early doors, setting the scene for a stressful but solid performance to keep the visitors at bay. With us and the Baggies both facing trips to relegation threatened teams this weekend (West Brom at Huddersfield Town on Friday evening and then our own game with Stoke City the following lunchtime) there’s everything to play for heading in to the last few games.

My word that was tough. For the fans. The players looked comfortable and in control all the way through but a goal can be conceded in a moment. In a freak of nature. At the death and then all the hard work is undone. We’ve all been there too many times over the years. Thankfully, this team haven’t.

Ollie had found the back of the net with less than five minutes on the clock.  A thunderbolt of a shot on the half volley, latching on to a quite delightful ball through from Emiliano Marcondes. The Championship top scorer almost taking goalkeeper Declan Rudd’s head off as he unleashed a howitzer from just outside the corner of the six yard box with a defender bearing down.

Truly, it was class finish although as much praise is due to the build up play that saw Emiliano set a high water mark for Championship assists since the return from lockdown. Yet instead of opening the floodgates as so often happens, Preston stood firm. If anything, they came back in to the game and could probably consider themselves unlucky not to go in level. David Raya was on fine form between the sticks for his sixteenth clean sheet of the season – more than any other goalkeeper in the division. That’s when the Lilywhites got through – Christian Norgaard was as much a rock in front of the back four as Pontus Jansson was at the heart of it.

Watching on TV, you could see him bellowing, directing, guiding and shaping his team. The club captain filling the role in style. What a man to have around you in a pressure situation. How important could his experience prove over the next couple of days?

It was a stonking win, with absolute credit due to Preston. The longer the game went on the less likely it felt – to those of us watching back at home on TV – that a second goal would come. Instead, it was a case of gritted teeth and waiting for the clock to slowly wind down. Limping towards full time at almost snail like pace before a torturous five additional minutes were added on. Like being strapped to a chair and force fed Mrs. Brown’s Boys, there was palpable relief when it was all over. At least, from the fans watching at home. I’m sure the players will tell us they had no worries and it was all under control.

But for all the discomfort of watching the game from a distance, it played out wonderfully. The final score at full time shows it ended 1-0 to Brentford and the record books won’t give a damn that Preston did everything possible to keep there own play-off dream alive. The table doesn’t lie and we’re that single point behind West Bromwich Albion.

Having reached a place where we are now breathing down the neck of a team who were ten points ahead of us before the season took that mid-season hiatus, can we go that bit further? To come out of a game like that with the win is a sign of our top, top football. Our spirit. Our never say die approach.

To an extent, control is still out of our hands. Favours are still required. Even assuming we fulfil our part of the bargain, we are still beholden on assistance from Huddersfield Town or the Loftus Road mob. Could it really be a tale of two Marks to help get the Bees over the line? Chief executive Devlin or manager Mark respectively. 

That’s to come though. And all out of our hands. Even Thomas Frank admitted he’d be watching the game on Friday – but only because he’d have nothing else to do on the coach to Stoke.

We’ll be with you Thomas . In mind if not body.

Nick Bruzon

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