Tag Archives: 1-1

Who wants it most? Who will hold their nerve?

21 Apr

So, play-offs it is. Hopefully. Not a typo. A 1-1 draw for Brentford with Cardiff City last night, combined with Watford picking up an absolutely crucial win at Norwich City, means the gap to second place in The Championship is now ten points with four games to play. Maths keeps that dream alive but, realistically, it is now time to regroup and rediscover our goal scoring form before a tenth bite at the end of season cherry. An unbeaten run now stretching to eight games with only five goals against (and two of those came in the second half switch off at Derby back in mid-March) suggests all is not as rotten in the Garden of Eden as many would have you believe. However, the inability to turn wins into draws over the course of the season – only Millwall have more than our 15 – is putting paid to any aspiration of going up via the direct route. That is, of course, assuming there is no last minute wobble combined with a surge from 7th (seventh) placed Reading. As we’ve been saying all year, this one is going to run until game 46. If nothing else, just look at what happened to Nottingham Forest last season when Swansea City stole up the blind side to beat them in a photo finish on the line. A seemingly unassailable position falling apart at the death.

As for the Cardiff game, Brentford began with the same starting XI for the third successive game. Ivan Toney and Marcus Forss at one end ; Christian Norgaard alongside Pontus and Ethan at the other. Again, we started brightly and built the pressure. Again there were chances. Again, we couldn’t convert. Marcus with the two clearest opportunities and both of which hindsight will suggest could have been taken differently. The second in particular crying out for Bryan Mbeumo to tap into the net from close range. Instead, the young Finn twisting his body to stretch for the ball and only managing to guide it over. Ivan Toney also came close after intercepting a slack backpass but Alex Smithies in goal for the Bluebirds pulled off a smart save to deny the Championship’s leading goalscorer a chance to add to his haul.

The Bees come close

0-0 as the players went in for their cup of tea and orange quarters. They emerged in much the same vein as they had ended the opening period. On top and pushing. Brentford being Brentford its never easy. Ethan Pinnock adjudged to have handled in the box just prior to the hour and Kieffer Moore making no mistake from the spot. A well placed penalty giving our visitors the lead. 

It didn’t last long, thankfully. The impressive Tariqe Fosu shooting from distance for Smithies to allow it straight through his hands just four minutes later. Get in. 1-1. The pressure continued. Chances followed with Sergi Canos coming closest. His own attempt to emulate Fosu moving wickedly through the air with ‘goal’ written all over it, only to be denied by the ball cannoning off the chest of Smithies. The ‘keeper with hands nowhere near it but thankful to see it bounce clear. Close but no cigar. Despite dominating possession (don’t even start…) further goals proved as hard to come by as positive support for the European Super League. Our own hopes of going up in second place dissolving as quickly as the fledgling cash machine.

Positives? Look, I am a glass half full type. No apologies for that. What’s the point otherwise? Life is tough enough without heaping further misery or negativity on oneself. On our day we are on fire and, for now, we are keeping things super tight at the back. The play-offs themselves are all about not losing and we’re very, very good at that aspect. The only thing that counts is getting over the line. 

At the moment we’re not playing as well as we are used to – no question. The key absences and enforced restructure playing a huge part in that although as was proven against Preston this set up can still find the net. Indeed, last night could have seen more goals had we found the rub of the green. I can’t cry over that but I will take comfort from the fact that this advance towards the play-offs is the opposite of last time out.

Then, we were always playing catch up on automatic. Impossibly so. We had a wonderful run of form, building game after game, to put us in contention before it dissolved in the final two defeats against Stoke City and Barnsley. The chance of automatic in our hands at the death only to see it surrendered in such tepid form after that wonderful late surge to even put ourselves in with a chance. Our hopes built up into a wonderful fairy tale ending to life at Griffin Park before being so cruelly denied. There was an almost resigned inevitability about what would come next and, of course, whilst we got one over Swansea City in the semis, the final at the W place was as frustrating as the end to the regular campaign. 

This time around we are the hard team to beat. Brentford have only lost 7(seven) games all season. Nobody has a better record on that front. The wins may not always come but get the ball to Ivan and the goals flow. Get Josh and Rico back (one can dream) and our attacking edge goes up tenfold.

So, for me, there are two choices. Petulant stropping, gnashing of teeth and wailing. Shouting ‘Frank Out’ and blaming him for all our perceived woes. Cursing the campaign as a disaster and writing our team off as though it was already dead and buried. 

Or… back our boys for the last 7(seven) games. Making sure that we first get over the play-off line and then see where we ago from there. Try telling Derby County or Birmingham City that football life is bad. Our situation is ten times better than their plight. I’ve no doubt Wayne Rooney and Harlee Dean would trade positions with us in a heartbeat if such a thing were possible. I’ll keep on backing our team and our head coach for promotion until that chance is gone. For now, it remains very much on even if it will require us going through that dreaded end of season lottery. 

Yes, it IS frustrating. I was convinced automatic was in our hands. It still could be but we are now relying on Watford failing to pick up a single win against Millwall or Swansea City. Likewise, us winning four games in a row (including that penultimate game with the Hornets). Much as I am an optimist I am also a realist. Football is full of surprises, that’s for sure, but one of this magnitude at this late stage would seem unlikely. The again, pressure does strange things. A win for the Bees at Bournemouth on Saturday lunchtime combined with Millwall beating Watford makes it interesting. Both results are possible although the broader sequence of fixtures still make it unlikely. There’s no way Watford will drop that many points. For us to win all four will also need something huge.

Last night saw two ‘must win’ games. For us and for Norwich City. Neither happened and clearly the Canaries don’t want win the title. Farke out. Or should that be Farke off? In all seriousness, they’ve been great. Watford have been on fire in recent months. Both are going up. The only question being who wins the league, who gets the second automatic slot and then who wins at the W place. That’s all that counts now. That’s all we should be focussing on. For Brentford, automatic relies on maths. Promotion relies on us pulling together and getting over the line at the tenth attempt. 

I can already see Ivan walking up to the penalty spot in the 89th minute…. 

Is it coming to this once more….? (The place rather than the hats)

Nick Bruzon   

Shoulda Woulda Coulda. Mixed bag of results leaves it tense at the top.

21 Mar

Two points dropped or another gained in a performance that was streets ahead of that second half no show on Tuesday? Brentford held 1-1 by Nottingham Forest in a game that arguably we could have won , given the chances created, or making further ground on Swansea City who lost at home to Cardiff City? The gap between us a solitary point. The huge fly in our ointment being a Watford team who won, again, and are now looking to make their own insurmountable assault on second place. A position they currently occupy with a 7(seven) point advantage over the Bees, albeit having played an extra game. With so many Brentford fans fixated on the potential 8 point lead available to the Swans after the dog’s dinner we served up at Coventry (how are those maths working out?), how many stopped to focus on The Hornets as the main danger threat to our automatic aspirations? They’ve been chipping away with win after win after win and now, all of a sudden, have found quite the clear air between second and third place as their rivals’ current milieu has been one more favouring draws and defeats.

The final score – as seen on Brentford official.

Our own game started so brightly. Ivan Toney scoring yet another from the penalty spot. It was as stonewall as they come in the decision making stakes. As ice cool as ever in the execution. Another one rolled into the bottom corner, taking the Championship’s leading scorer up to 28 from 37 games. Twelve minutes gone and Brentford ahead. Nottingham Forest on the ropes and doing well to stay alive. Mbeumo could have done better. Dalsgaard had a a glorious chance. The pressure building and the approach play suggesting more was to come.

Our visitors limited to a half-arsed penalty shout of their own that had both sets of players laughing and earned Alex Mighten nothing more than a yellow card for his trouble. The Tricky Tree less felled in the box and more needing to smooth over the rough edges on his Tom Daley tribute act.

Perfect 10s for effort, if not executionthe GPG at the right place on the screen grabs for this ‘penalty’ analysis

But let’s not get cocky here. Dominant though Brentford were, it had the feel of a game that needed more than one goal got make it safe. Half time came and went with the thought that taking one of those additional chances in the opening period might have eased stress levels in the environs of TW8. Calmed some strained nerves as the inevitable happened just after the hour. Mathias Jensen losing out to Bong after the Forest player manhandled his way through and past our man before releasing the ball forward. Brentford still had enough back to cover but Winston Reid could only guide his clearance straight to Filip Krovinovic close in. Ping. The ball was returned with interest straight back in the direction from which it came, straight past the defender and straight past David Raya in nets. 1-1. Well done. That play had been allowed to continue after the assault on Jensen a cause of huge frustration (and that’s the polite term) but, frankly, we still should have had the nous to cut that one out. Instead, the visitors handed out the consummate lesson in taking your chance when it comes.

This was not a park the bus exercise either. Progress was hard, as much through our own decision making, but there were still chances to seal it. Substitutes Ghoddos and Fosu who, personally speaking, should have come on much earlier, both coming close. Mbeumo had already had a glorious chance, foiled only by time quite wonderful defending. It had seemed an odd on goal after the square ball across the face from Ivan but, instead, a last gasp challenge saw a corner the best we could salvage. And then with almost the last kick of the game Toney saw his own deflection assisted shot go just the wrong side of the post. So near yet so far. 1-1 it finished. Forest good value and deserving of their point. Brentford left frustrated. Twitter given a wide berth. Frankly, life’s too short to read that in the heat of the aftermath.   

Checks for #Frankout

Sunday morning. Time to pick up the pieces once more. To read match reports and see what Thomas had to say for himself. His key take away being that, “this was close to a spotless performance in every aspect, we defended well, created chances, pressed forward and first half we should have been 2-0 up“.

Well yes, he’s right from many respects. Shoulda Woulda Coulda, though. Chances don’t win games, strikers do. Or, at least, goal scorers. Any other day at least one of those probably goes in and the game is safe. But it didn’t. It was today. Not the other 9 times out of 10. And it’s agonising. As much as anything else because we know how last season played out when opportunity knocked. That’s the obvious downside and the place people are likely to gravitate towards. It’s football. We’re pessimists. We’ve been here many, many times. Dont even start me on there W place in North London.

Personally speaking, I’m of the more optimistic school of thought. It goes without saying I’d prefer to be in the position Watford find themselves, even though they have played that additional game. Yet they aren’t home and hosed yet. Anything but. Let’s not forget they still need to come to Lionel Road in the penultimate game of the campaign. That’s before they host Swansea City.  We win that one and our game in hand over them then the gap is a solitary point. Imagine actually needing a favour off Swansea at the end of all this? 

I can’t really think that way. This is on us still. We still have the time and potential on our side. There are still 9 games to play. That’s a fifth of the season as near as makes no difference. This campaign still has SO much football left in it. We’ll call it after game 46. Not after a result that doesn’t go our way. 

Everybody now gets the chance to reset and recover. Hopefully our internationals will all be suffering from niggles that cause their precautionary resting from World Cup qualification and U-21 duty. We’ve still got Josh Dasilva and Rico Henry to return. Hopefully this season . Hopefully soon. Along with Ivan they are two of the best players in the division, let alone this team. Name me any Championship side that could honestly say it was better without players of their calibre? Well, we all know the answer to that and whilst lamenting their absence won’t help anyone, I’d love if they play some significant role in that final run in. Fingers crossed the anti-gravity treadmill, or whatever else they are hooked up to, is doing its thing.

Until then, time to try and chill for a bit. There are two weeks until the next round of fixtures. We’ve got the Mark Devlin derby at Huddersfield on Easter Saturday. The day before, Watford host Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea go to Birmingham City.  Fingers crossed that’s a Good Friday. For Brentford.

For a moment, it looked like we’d have comfortable afternoon. Sadly, this was the only chance taken

Nick Bruzon

I’ve seen them given, Clive. Just not like this.

10 Mar

Finally. Games in hand have played out. If anything, Brentford and Swansea City are now the ones with the opportunity of playing catch up. Watford the team looking over their shoulders. Current occupants of second place in a Championship promotion race that is going to run and run. Last night’s 1-1 draw at Blackburn Rovers meaning the Swans are now three points ahead of the Bees with both teams having played 34 of our 46 games. Only goal difference keeping them behind The Hornets who have, of course, played that extra fixture. Whilst, personally speaking, I’m a firm believer in the ethos that points in the bag are better than games in hand there is extra comfort to be gained by the fact that our goal difference currently is clear of both our main rivals. Hopefully we’re all a bit less stressed now. Blips happen to the best of teams. Even in the top flight Liverpool are turning Fortress Anfield into an all you can score buffet for visiting teams whilst normally indestructible Manchester City ‘lost’ a game at the weekend (not a typo). 

I’d rather be second than fourth. No question. Prefer 66 points to 63. Only a moron would say otherwise. Yet the doomsday scenario being played out by so many after our own  disaster showing against Coventry City has failed to materialise. Swansea having three games in hand at that point and the potential to go 8 points clear should they win them all. They didn’t. Instead, were humped soundly by Bristol City and Huddersfield Town. Turned one point into three c/o of 96th minute penalty awards that were straight out of Dodge City. Fishier than Michael Fish eating fish and chips. Then, last night, another one awarded although this time in the first half but when a goal down. A penalty that was as soft as any other we’ve seen awarded recently. I’ve seen them given, Clive. Just not with this regularity. Alan McInally reporting for Sky Sports aghast at what he’d just seen after Andre Ayew made it four goals from the spot in as many games.

Penalty to Swansea. Awarded whilst listening to pop music’s Dodgy

Good luck to them. As we said before, Brentford wouldn’t turn down the opportunity if offered. We’d be right on the spot, trusting Ivan Toney to do his thing. That so many have been awarded , and in such controversial circumstances, is of course going to frustrate. That’s the polite phrase. Shonky refereeing to those looking in. The EFL powerless, impotent, silent.  We can’t change that. We still have plenty of opportunity to wrestle control of our destiny. 12 more games. That’s a lot of time and a lot of points. Even if we need to do it from open play. Err, Bryan Mbeumo at Norwich anyone…? Besides, I’m still firmly of the belief that this one is going to go all the way to the wire. If for no other reason than Watford visit Brentford then host Swansea in their final two games. 

All being well, things will be a lot clearer by then. If the recent run of LLL was stressful for some think how that final brace of fixtures is going to be? That’s a level of angst I don’t want to be part of although can only presume things will head that way. None of the teams around us will drop that many points between now and then.  At least we got back on track with those defeats of Sheff Wed and Stoke. Next up Blackburn Rovers on Friday.

Cripes, that trip to Ewood Park is going to be tough. By all accounts they should have won last night. We all know our own injury situation at the back. That said, we all know our own goal scoring potential going forward. The choice being faced by Thomas Frank over who from Tariqe Fosu, Bryan Mbeumo and Sergi Canos to start with a tough one. A nice one, I suppose. For me (straps on tin hat) the later had been the most consistent performer this season from the three although nobody could deny the game against Norwich City was one where he was at anything than his best. I still stand by the fact that the abuse he came under was way out of line and totally out of order. If nothing else, there were enough others who went awol in a game against the runaway league leaders. But we’ve done that one to death. 

Brentford may well lose again this season. Sadly. That’s football. As noted earlier, even Manchester City got a nil return on Sunday. It happens. Liverpool have hit such a rough patch of home form that even Fulham picked up three points over the weekend. Swansea City have fluctuated between whipping boys and relentless winners over the last five games. The only consistent thing about the beautiful game is its inconsistency. Nothing can be predicted. Although if everyone could just stop awarding Steve Cooper’s team penalties, that would be nice. As a side note,  those bemoaning Barnsley inflicting one of our own defeats in the blip period may care to notice the Tykes now sitting in the play-off spots. Talk about a surge up the blindside. 

We can talk about others in the same breath as we do ourselves. That’s not obsession. That’s a fact. That’s what makes football so exciting. So addictive. Delivers the agony and ecstasy in equal measure. We can be at our best yet still be undone by outside influence. Be ropey as but nick the points and then see our rivals do everything but score. Of course we have to focus on Brentford as a priority. Of course we shouldn’t get overly upset about what the others do, as long as we continue to pick up the points. Yet with our destinies so inter twined, it’s hard not to look at the other games with microscopic interest. Luton v Swansea on Saturday and Cardiff v Watford will be two such games. Moreso with our own game taking place on Friday night. Fingers crossed we’ll be back in automatic by the time our nearest and dearest kick off. Fingers crossed….

Nick Bruzon  

This could be biblical…..

30 Jan

Are we all over the Swansea City foul fest now? All being well Brentford fans are now fully focussed on Saturday afternoon’s game with Wycombe Wanderers, even if Swans’ supporters are still justifying their team’s own somewhat robust approach to Wednesday evening’s 1-1 draw. Certainly, going by the comments to Thursday’s column… That’s nice. Good luck to them. For the Bees, this represents another chance to continue an unbeaten run in the Championship that stretches back to late October and ‘that’ 3-2 slip up in Stoke. The one with the defensive experiment. Well, we’ve all learned a heck of a lot since then and now find ourselves nipping at the heels of the top placed teams. Reading’s victory over a Bournemouth team rapidly perfecting their own Fulham tribute act has catapulted the Royals above the Bees, for now, but its all so tight at the top that should we pick up all three points this afternoon, second place with games in hand is more than attainable by 5pm. Should other results go our way.

Wednesday has been and gone – let’s just move on now

These are exciting times, no doubt. If the snow which was thought to be that great leveller never quite materialised against Leicester City on Sunday, the elements could play much more of a significant role today. At the time of writing (7(seven) am) its torrential outside and has been for the last few hours (at least). The ground in TW8 will already be sodden and the rain shows no sign of abating. Great conditions for those that like slick, passing play. For those that remember to pack the extra long studs.

Things are biblical in Brentford this morning, that’s for sure, but with the Bees looking to make their own exodus from the Championship it couldn’t be more apt. Let’s just hope there’s a great flood of goals to match the downpour. Ivan Toney’s recent hot streak may have hit the skids but he is still playing quite wonderfully. The timing of his runs (where only being man handled can stop him) and link up play to those who are finding the net still worth their weight in gold. Or should that be goals? This afternoon’s visit from the Championship’s bottom side, who haven’t played in the league since a 1-3 defeat to Middlesbrough, could be the perfect opportunity for him. Of our divisional rivals, only Huddersfield Town have conceded more goals this season and a visit from a leaky defence in the rain could be just what the doctor ordered.

Of course, football is never that easy. Gareth Ainsworth’s team have certainly tightened up their act and are even winning games now. We laboured to our own 0-0 at Adams Park back in November and so won’t be under any illusions about this being a formality. Anything but. Talismanic behemoth Adebayo Akinfenwa may not have troubled the Championship statisticians so far this campaign but his presence alone makes the front man a huge distraction for the Brentford defence. Keeping the ball down the other end will be key. Dominating the midfield the way we’re going to win this one and break down resolute opposition.

Fortunately, Matthias Jensen was on fine form at Swansea City. See also the returning Josh Dasilva who did well to avoid another early exit fro matt game. Albeit on a stretcher, given the non-stop assault he was subjected to in the first half. Thankfully, referee Mr Brooks was on hand to ignore it all. Today we’ve got David Webb (rather than W£bb) in the middle so let’s hope for a little bit more protection in the slippery conditions. 

The heart says comfortable win today. The head says I’ve been a Brentford fan far too long to take anything for granted. However, let’s put the neck on the block and call it. 3-0 Brentford. There you go. Having got the last two league games spot on (somehow) its a hat trick that will be as welcome as it will be unlikely. Bring on 2pm when we find out the team and baton down the hatches for another afternoon on the sofa. Urghh – I’d love to be soaked to the skin this afternoon, so cold and wet that all feeling has been lost to the fingers. Unable to feel my nose and rain running down the glasses. We all know why that’s not possible so instead, let’s just hope the Internet holds up. Let’s wait for Mark Burridge to do his thing on the microphone.

Bring it on and see you there. In mind if not body. There’s always social media. Enjoy the game and here’s to the right result come 5pm. No pressure, lads….

Nick Bruzon 

A Krul blow for the Bees.

28 Oct

Ouch. So close yet stung at the death as Brentford were denied a place in the top six. A late equaliser from Norwich City saw a game in which we could have been well out of sight end in agony. A wicked deflection off Mads Bech Sorensen left David Raya with no hope as Kenny Mclean’s 87th minute effort down the corridor of saveability was given new direction and hit the back of the net. Yet being completely honest with ourselves, it was the quintessential example of the old adage that goals, rather than possession and shots, are what win games. A second would have out it out of sight – and there were the chances – but instead it was a case of leaving the game on levels terms. Of knowing that after Saturday’s trip to Luton Town and the  visit of Swansea City next week we’ll be at the ‘played 10’ marker . That, of course, where the table will have officially been deemed to have ‘taken shape’.  

It had all looked so, so promising after the frustration of Saturday. The formation had a much more recognisable look to it as whatever had happened in the Potteries stayed there. Brentford pushed and whilst Norwich City had their own threats, it was that man Ivan Toney who did it again. With Marcus Forss answering the 4-4-2 question by starting on the bench, the Championship’s top scorer going in to this one made it 8 with little less than half an hour gone.

Bryan Mbeumo cutting down the right played a low ball in to the box which entirely bisected the Norwich defence. Toney worked his own position magnificently and was left unmarked to steer it home for the opener. 1-0 and Brentford in front.

Official capture the moment on Twitter last night

We pushed on. Emiliano came close. Toney himself must be wondering, even now, how he was denied a second. His perfectly placed header curling away from Tim Krul and in to the far corner of the nest yet, somehow, the Norwich keeper almost hyper-extending his arm to claw it away. A quite magnificent save that he had no right to be even half-close to, such was the placement of Toney’s effort. Yet credit to Krul – he got there.

Half time came and went. With it, Brentford kept going. Henrik Dalsgaard with the golden moment in a flurry of chances in the second period. Unmarked six yards out, the ball fell perfectly yet rather than sending Peter Gilham into another bout of vocal gymnastics his low shot found Krul. If Toney’s chance had been the better save, this was another that we’ll feel should really have seen the lead doubled.  Alas, it wasn’t to be.

Whilst recent seasons have seen the Bees get better at hanging on to leads, October has seen Norwich City do their thing late on. They’ve picked up 3 points at the death in their last three league games – Wycombe (91st minute winner), Birmingham (87th minute winner) Rotherham (95th minute winner) and whilst this wasn’t victory, it was another late, late hammer blow from the Canaries. The only consolation being they couldn’t push on for the win but, by that point, Mclean’s tiddler from outside the box had already done the damage.

To compound the frustration, over in the Blackburn – Reading game Adam Armstrong scored two goals for Rovers to take him one past Toney at the top of the Championship scorers chart. Whilst, like league placings, that’s still too early to get overly excited about, it looks like we may have the makings of another Mitrovic – Watkins battle on our hands again this season. That could be fun.

This hurts but like the  Stoke City game it all depends what we take out of it. No player misses on purpose. Nor can you legislate for freak deflections. Credit to Krul, too. That save from Ivan. Wow. Yet if ever we needed a reminder of those moments on which a game can turn, this one had them in spades. A draw was the fair result.Mainly because both teams scored a goal each. Albeit the frustrating one. We’ve a day more than Luton Town to recover with the Hatters entertaining Nottingham Forest tonight before our own trip to Kennilworth Road on Saturday.

The games don’t stop coming. The catch up from the Covid outtage is relentless. Incessant. It’s no wonder squads need to be rotated and players pulled off early. That injuries are occurring. Managing that, as much as our opponents, will be key to how we perform. I’d love to see Josh Dasilva play every minute but its just not going to happen. Christian and Pontus are amongst those already out of action. The sale of Said would have hit any team. The point being that this season is going to be very different from last. Not just for Brentford although the obvious thing is to focus on ourselves. Who amongst us would honestly have called Reading as early pacesetters? Their 7(seven) wins out of eight propelling them to the top of the league. Perhaps for now but maybe longer term.

The point being that last night we had the opportunities, couldn’t take them and in the end looked to consolidate, for understandable reasons. It didn’t quite play off. However much of a freak the goal was, they all count.  We can cry about it and rue those missed chances. I won’t deny the groan that went up from where we were watching as the ball deviated towards goal. We’ve just done a Brentford, the immediate thought that came to mind. 

All that counts now is to try and be philosophical in the broader context of what is going to be a physically demanding season. Stoke was self-inflicted. Yesterday was a night where the footballing gods decided not to smile on us. Where destiny was in our hands but opportunity refused to knock. We can’t change it but we can try to restore some satisfaction on Saturday. See you there. In spirit.

View from the laptop – Krul somehow breaks Brentford hearts

Nick Bruzon

There wouldn’t be a more beautiful set of brackets in football this season.

15 Feb

Saturday morning. 6.30am. It already has the feel of one of those days. No District line. No Piccadilly line. No South West Trains service. Even leaving Brentford to get as far as a station feels as though it is going to be epic. That’s nothing to do with Storm Dennis but simply the most ill thought out combination of track upgrades since – urghh, it’s too early for an analogy. Then again, time to grit those teeth, put head down and find a Plan C. Preferably one that doesn’t involve the four most horrific words in the English language – rail replacement bus service. The trip to Birmingham City awaits and it promises to be epic. With the added incentive of Nottingham Forest v West Bromwich Albion and Leeds United hosting Bristol City, today definitely has the feel of, erm, one of those days. One to focus on the positive and what may be. Subject to the weather.

Cheer up Harlee Dean. etc etc etc. Been there, done that. Whilst I’ll be amazed if we don’t hear at least one refrain of that song following his infamous comments on that ill-fated ‘Blues Cruise’, there are bigger things to focus on today. The promotion race remains wide open and the primary concern for Brentford has to be in looking to pick up those three points. Other results going our way could, theoretically, see us finish the day in that second place we occupied briefly during the midweek fixture against Leeds United.

Harlee

Don’t shoot the messenger. He said it. Not me.

Then again, other results could, theoretically, see Leeds United end the day outside the top six. Victories for the Bees, Forest, Fulham (a home banker against Barnsley) combined with Bristol City winning by 7(seven) goals at Elland Road will achieve that feat. There wouldn’t be a more beautiful set of brackets in football this season should that set of results play out. And whilst, of course, it won’t this serves more to show just how tight things remain. Just how how crucial those ‘other’ results could be as the top sides, and also Birmingham City, play each other.

Let’s not write off Blues though. My word, anything but. They are on a nine game unbeaten run and have picked up three Championship wins on the bounce. Despite the loss of Josh McEachran, they still find themselves chock full of ex-Bees. Maxime Colin, the aforementioned Captain Pugwash and of course Scott Hogan. He’s banging them in for fun once more and so we’ll have to be extra wary of that ball slotted through the middle. Christian Norgaard and, potentially, a returning Pontus Jansson will have key roles to play this afternoon. 

hogan-celebrates

I used to love a Scott Hogan goal celebration. Not today.

The game against Leeds on Tuesday was one where, being fair, just about everyone has acknowledged we were second best. The visitors will be disappointed not to have picked up all three points but, as we’ve said many times, possession and chances count for naff all if you can’t convert. They may have outplayed us but they couldn’t beat us. Brentford had an off day and still could have won. Perhaps we might have had things stayed at 1-0 rather than being pegged back just before half-time.

Ahh. Ifs, buts and maybes. The things that make football so intriguing. The things that provide for hours of conversation and conjecture despite having absolutely no impact on past results. The things that perhaps give us the inspiration to really go for it next time out and right any wrongs we may feel have been done to us.

IMG_3713

A rare second half  sortie on Tuesday.

For me, Clive, Birmingham City are an irrelevance today. I don’t mean that with any form of specific disrespect. Feelings for the team have been well documented before and I’d absolutely love to get a win at St. Andrews.

It’s more that currently they just feel like the opposition in the way and nothing more than that. A challenge to be overcome and points to be won rather than scored. There are no thoughts about relegation in 92/93, lack of promotion in 94/95 or ‘ten times better’ but simply whether we can keep heading towards the top flight. And the latest obstacle in the way is a Blue one rather than, all being well, a traffic jam or a tree on the track.

I can’t call it. Never can. I was 100% confident that we’d beat Leeds United on Tuesday and that didn’t work out. But we didn’t lose and we have the biggest incentive possible to go for it. Moreso with the Nottingham Forest – West Bromwich Albion game due to take place at lunchtime. By the time of our kick off we’ll have a little bit more of an idea how the table is looking and just what three points might do to our position at close of play. If we can pick them up.

Oh, I can’t wait for this one. Travel safe. See you there…..

Harlee Birmingham tweet

Here’s to more of this

Nick Bruzon

A generous slice of good fortune keeps things tight at the top.

12 Feb

I’ll take that and party. Leeds United, arguably the stronger team on the night, were held by Brentford at Griffin Park. We were second to most things but stats, possession and performance count for naff all when the man comes around. The only thing that will be remembered  is in the ‘goals scored’ column and for that we must be truly grateful things finished one each. Benrahma’s early opener, gifted him courtesy of a horror moment for visiting ‘keeper Kiko Casilla, was matched just before half-time by opposition skipper Liam Cooper. Yet with Charlton Athletic doing both teams the biggest of favours after their stunning 0-1 win at Nottingham Forest, the Bees move up to fourth. Still two points off Leeds and five behind West Bromwich Albion at the summit.

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View from the Braemar – Brentford, erm, push up

So, in short…. Leeds United dominated. Leeds United pressed, pushed and took the game to Brentford. Should have wrapped it up in the second half and will no doubt consider this one that they ‘deserved’ to win. The Bees very much on the back foot but, equally, given the temporary moment of sitting second in the table after Casilla’s nightmare. Somehow, a soft backpass from Cooper evaded him and as he desperately stretched to recover, Said was there to hoover up the most generous of gifts. Boom. 1-0. Game on and Leeds set to fall apart. Again.

But no. This was a different United. A team of mental and physical strength. One that didn’t crumble but came straight back at us and cranked up the pressure until Cooper was there to pounce at the other end just before half-time. And that’s how things stayed. The second period being one noticeable by our absence from proceedings. Or rather, our attacking prowess. 

The defence still missing Pontus Jansson coped admirably, by and large, completing the first task of keeping the gap to second place close. With Charlton doing the business in Nottingham, one hopes that on reflection we’ll all be waking up today and consider this one with all the positivity that the situation warrants.

Of course I wanted to win. Of course I was desperate to deliver a knockout blow to Leeds United’s fragile nerves. But you have to respect the fact that they are second for a reason and played the almost perfect game last night. Yet still they failed to beat us. Still Patrick Bamford looked a luxury item in front of goal. Costa profligate. Still Leeds haven’t won at Griffin Park since the days of black and white telly.

We can’t win every game but the plus factor being we’ve still made ground on the top of the table. Put simply, we’re now back in front of Nottingham Forest on level games. Huge thanks to Charlton for that one.

There’s not much else to say about our on pitch performance. We got the point. Might have had three but, in the end, given the chances they had Leeds will undoubtedly feel they should have won. We’ll thank that huge slice of good fortune for our goal and our visitors’ lack of potency who opportunity knocked. Will that be enough to keep the demons pecking at the back of their mind? A home game with promotion chasing Bristol City on Saturday won’t be the easiest of challenges. For us, a trip to Birmingham City. That’ll be an interesting one with Scott Hogan doing the business for Blues again last night but it’s also a topic for later in the week.

Another night under lights. Another game at Griffin Park done. The board now reading 7 to go (no brackets, though) . It was a night where two moments really made me appreciate how much we’ll miss this place.

Firstly, ducking out to the ablutions block in the second half I spotted something you’d struggle to find anywhere else and which could only take place given our close confines. A chap leaning over his garden wall to watch the game  ‘live’  – via the stadium TV channel. The things you do to get past a sellout crowd.

stadium TV Griffin Park Brentford

Secondly, former Bee Stuart Dallas. It’s not often you get the chance to reminisce about the single best ever goal scored in a Brentford shirt with the man who scored it (My word – ‘that’ strike at Fulham still sends shivers up the spine) so grab those moments whilst you can. Even if it’s in the middle of a football match.

He even posed for a picture. Only a stadium as bijou as Griffin Park would allow this.

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Of course I’m looking forward to Lionel Road but, once again, it was a case of very much enjoying what is a rapidly dwindling number of chances to experience that which makes out current home so unique. So special. With Blackburn Rovers next to visit, let’s hope we can use it our advantage.

Until then, snaffle up those last few tickets for Birmingham City and see you there.  

Nick Bruzon  

So close to another mulled win on a day of celebration.

22 Dec

The morning after the night before. Head foggy. Eyes sore. Mouth tasting like Fullers has curled up, fallen asleep in there and then passed away at about 3am. Espresso now on rewind. Yesterday was fun. A lot of fun. We had a kids / grown ups party at ours, meaning a trip to The Hawthorns was out of the running. Yet the seasonal celebrations continued long after the final guests had left with the knowledge that Brentford will be in the play-off zone at Christmas. This, following a 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion where, if we’re being honest, perhaps some are feeling miffed about not taking all three points from the league leaders. Certainly, going by the reports of one way traffic and chances created in the first half. There was a further present as second placed Leeds United dropped more points – albeit at the Cottage as they lost 2-1 to Fulham. Despite their losing a 3-0 lead at home to Cardiff last time out, surely not even the Elland Road outfit can throw away what is now a ten point lead from their second place to third. Surely? It’s not as though they have any form of reputation for falling apart or stuff like that.

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Loved this from ‘official’

Still, the tribulations of Leeds United and Fulham (recording a first win since I don’t know when – it wasn’t last weekend, that’s for sure) a mere dollop of cream on top of the Festive treat served up at West Brom. With my usual group displaced by holiday prep, the aforementioned party, transatlantic travel and shopping it was a case of communication via Whatsapp. The screen shot showing that Brentford were dominating our hosts with 57% possession, 7(seven) shots with 2 on target – compared to nil from The Baggies – was followed with the not unusual comment that “We all know what happens next” becasue, of course, stats don’t win matches. Goals do.

Sure enough, thirty seconds later it did. But not as expected….

A scream from the front room was followed by Harry running through to the kitchen where the dads were hiding out by the vat of mulled wine, talking sh..op and steering clear of the mayhem. He was closely followed by his friends Felix and Darius who stand on the Ealing Road with their dad JJ (he of the goal inducing pea-sized bladder with which regular readers may be familiar – not literally). It was less a run and more a charge. Guests scattering and voices raised. “Daaaad. Daaaaad. We’ve scored!! We’re beating West Bromwich Albion.” Oh. Wow. Sure enough we had. Just before half-time and confirmation followed from Felix that it was the World Cup’s Denmark international Henrik Dalsgaard of Brentford who got the all important strike. Oh my. Get in !! Another mulled wine? Don’t mind if I do.

This was weird. Really weird. And if for no more reason than JJ had been with us when the goal went in rather than taking a comfort break.

Sadly though, the request for Harry to retrieve the deeds to the house and lump them on the Bees going up was retracted as quickly as it had been issued. Despite a penalty being denied us in between (“a clear, clear handball”, per Thomas Frank), Dalsgaard’s 43rd minute flick on from a corner was followed up by an almost identikit goal from the hosts. Fellow full back Darnell Furlong levelling things up deep into first half stoppage time. Oh well. Parity restored. A kick to the psychological nuts but a scoreline we’d all have taken prior to kick off, I’m sure. The important thing now was to not ‘do a Leeds United’ and, erm, fall apart. Keep that concentration going. Keep on pushing in what was sounding and reading like one way traffic (something the subsequent video highlights bear out altough our little group didn’t know this at the time).

The kids were sent back to the front room to ignore the rest of their guests and watch Jeff Stelling on mute, then keep us appraised of any second-half goal update. Nooooo. 2-1 Brom. Disaster. Charlie Austin.

Yessssssss 1-1. The lino had his flag up. Offside. “It was definitely offside, dad”, confirmed Harry. Not quite sure how he knew but his word was good enough for me. It was, on later review, the correct call and was the last action of any meaning in the afternoon. The game finishing 1-1 and the gap to Leeds in second being cut by another point. The Bees in the play-off zone and set for the visit of Swansea City on Boxing Day. Relentless West Bromwich Albion striding clear at the summit.

I’d love to have been there. The visiting contingent looked huge. The Hawthorns a magnificent stadium. Instead, yesterday’s ‘live action’ was confined to standing in a deluge and watching Harry at his Spartans FC training. Any excuse for a shot of that blue shirt in action.

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Watching one ‘Bee’ in the rain

Instead, it’ll be a case of the trip to Millwall next Sunday for that next ‘away’ hit. But that’s one for the future. For now it’s a case of enjoying the moment. Of seeing how far we have come . We’ve only been in the Championship play off-zone at Christmas once before – the season Mark Warburton had the reins, dear (reader). Back then we hung on and scraped into the top six on that incredible final day after Derby did a Leeds at home to Reading. It was a position we’d got into of our own making through an over reliance on out of form Harlee Dean (Tony Craig being confined to the bench a tactical decision I still cannot align myself with) . 

Yet Thomas Frank shows none of that ‘loyalty to favourites’. Form is recognised and Ethan Pinnock has retained his place on merit following Julian Jeanvier’s suspension. It was a decision that has now been rewarded. The absence of Pontus Jansson with a ‘minor injury’ one which might have caused trepidation prior to kick off. Yet any worries proved futile and now I’d be intrigued to see who the choice centre-back pairing will be when Swansea visit on Thursday. What a lovely problem to have !

Perhaps if anyone can sum things up it is none other than Romaine Sawyers. How nice to read his words on Twitter at full time, where he opined: “Everyone knows I’ll always hold @BrentfordFC in high regard! You guys should be proud of the team this season and keep pushing them on to the finish line! Thank you for the reception at the end of the game appreciate it!! So glad to see all my brothers today and you fans”

Thank you Romaine. Here’s to playing you next season. In the top flight….

 

Nick Bruzon

A tough one to take after a night of one way traffic.

3 Oct

Brentford 1 Bristol City 1. It is a score which does nothing to illustrate the performance of The Bees over 87 of the 90 minutes before a late, late equaliser, gifted to the visitors on a plate after a self-inflicted formation change, saw two points very much dropped. Brentford dominated and the stats more than bear this out. Yet as we’ve said many times, goals are the only thing that count at full time and all the wonderful play, brilliance from Daniel Bentley, domination and shots count for nothing if your opponents score as many, or more, than you. There’s a lot of positives to be taken from this one ahead of the trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday aswell as a few very valuable lesson learned.

First up, credit to Bristol City. Let’s not sound like we’re full of the sour grapes enjoyed by the likes of Steve Evans and Russell Slade back in the day. Whilst Brentford clearly had the lions share of possession and chances, it wasn’t one way traffic. The Robins set up to defend and almost caught us on the break in the first half. Rico Henry losing the ball and a lightning fast counter attack saw David Raya making a fine save one-on-one, when a goal was all but chalked on. In the other goal, Daniel Bentley was on inspired form. Save followed save and chance followed chance as the former Bees ‘keeper and his five man defence did everything to keep out the rampaging red and white hoard.

The goal, when it did come, was quite magnificent. Josh Dasilva curling a wonderful effort into the far top corner from outside the box. It was a strike that was as tasty as a freshly toasted bagel smeared in marmite, crunchy peanut butter and fake plastic cheese i.e delicious. The celebration was equally emphatic. Arms out high, he  ran to the Braemar Road side with players coming from all directions to leap on the midfielder in congratulation. 

For me, the smile on the face of Pontus Jansson said it all. A man who wears his heart on his sleeve at all times, you could see what this one meant to our captain as he joined the ever growing pile of players. A grin from ear to ear mirroring just what the supporters were feeling. Contrast that the look in his face at full time after ‘that’ equaliser had salvaged a point for Bristol City. He cut a distraught figure in the centre of the park, taking in what had gone on around him. I do wonder if words were exchanged in the dressing room at full time, and towards whom, or whether it one where we have to recognise the calibre of the opposition and our own performances which are improving. 

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View from The Braemar – Josh celebrates (somewhere)

I guess the frustrating thing is not so much that we conceded a late goal after battering our opponents without reply – that’s just one of the many elements that make being a Brentford fan what it is – but more that it just seemed so needless.

The 4-3-3 that we’d employed to such good effect at Barnsley and then again last night, was ditched with the fat lady performing her vocal warm ups. Sergi was replaced by an additional centre back in Ethan Pinnock on 83 minutes as we switched defensive formation. Four minutes later, with the team already looking stretched despite the additional numbers in the back line, Andreas Weimann was given all the space he needed to get on the end of Jack Hunt’s long cross and leave Raya with no chance.

Bristol City had their chance. They took it. Well done. That’s how football works. We could, no should, have wrapped this one up against a well disciplined and solid team. Instead, that combination of great goalkeeping, intense defence and plain old ball luck kept them in it until the opportunity arose. And when it did, my word they grabbed it. The celebrations were as ecstatic as our own had been. Understandably so. Even then, Daniel Bentley still had to be on his game to keep things level, tipping over a dipping cross from Dalsgaard late on in the last meaningful move of the match. And that was it. 1-1. Full time.

Waking up on Thursday morning it was very much a case of the ‘D’ word to describe this one. ‘Disappointed’ rather than ‘deserved’. As in, to win. There were plenty of positives to be taken but a single point instead of the three we looked like taking for huge swathes of this game feels like the metaphorical nuts. It did last night and there’s still a numb feeling down there today. Metaphorically speaking.  When you can’t even find room, or motivation, to talk about the Kurupt FM takeover at Griffin Park then you know it’s been a hard one.

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Add your own punchline

But, we didn’t lose. The table has now ‘taken shape’ at the ten game mark and we are 15th. We are getting much better as new faces and returning heroes adjust to life without the likes of Sawyers, Bentley, Maupay and McEachran swell as each other. We have a trip to fourth placed Nottingham Forest on Saturday where, if we can hold our defensive shape and maintain the same level of positivity going forward, our rise up the table will continue. Probably. 

Brentford are six points off the promotion pack. I can’t wait for the weekend when we see if that gap can be further reigned in. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Bees and Tigers share points in the proverbial game of two halves.

18 Aug

Brentford 1 Hull City 1. Whilst it wasn’t the 5-1 trashing of last season, the finish to this one was as exciting as the previous time these two teams had come together. Something all the more pleasing as it had started with all the excitement and enjoyability at a studio recording of Mrs. Brown’s Boys. Yet in the end, Ollie Watkins and Julian Jeanvier came within inches of giving Thomas Frank a second league win on the bounce following last Saturday’s despatch of Jonathan Woodgate’s Middlesbrough.  

There was good news from the off. Kamo and Said Benrahama named as available, albeit having to be content with a place on the bench. Bryan Mbuemo starting. As did Christian Nørgaard in the centre.  Yet if the announcement of the team had us salivating, the mood dipped with a first half performance that both teams may aswell have been dialled in from last Thursday. Chances were at a premium and that’s the polite version. The moment Mbuemo left his man for absolute dead and pointing the wrong way was a crown jewel atop an otherwise staid opening period. 

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View from The Braemar… Mbuemo does his thing.

Yet as at Middlesbrough, the second half saw Brentford crank it up. Even if we did concede the opener. Jarod Bowen being given the freedom of the penalty box to fire home and give Hull City the lead on 52. It wasn’t pretty defending and looked worse on the highlights but at the same time proved the catalyst  for the Bees to wake up and start playing as we know they can.

Thomas Frank shuffled the pack and went for a Plan B. The defensive switch from three centre backs saw the midfield boosted. Josh Dasilva and that man Benrahma coming on to a heroes welcome in a seventieth minute double substitution. Little more than 60 seconds later and we were level. Sergi Canos performing wonders down the right hand side to place an inch perfect pass through to Ollie Watkins. The timing was magnificent. The calls for offside ignored. The goal stood as he swept home to joyful response from all around Griffin Park. 

Sergi has begun this season on fire. Ollie has his second goal in as many games. It could have been a third. Just moments later but for a quite wonderful save from Hull ‘keeper Long. Both teams pushed on and pushed up. Benrahma not quite fully fit but still had the crowd on their feet with every surging run. With every bit of trickery. The smile on his face returning although, if anything, he was perhaps guilty of trying to hard. His time will come and what a welcome return. Mbuemo grew into the game and it was great to see  Christian Nørgaard in action. 

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But despite all the attacking intent on display as the game reached a gripping denouement, it was the post (officially, but looked like a fine save to me)  that kept Brentford in it following a fiercely fired free kick from Kamil Grosicki taken deep in the heart of Saunders territory (with thanks to the Middlesex Chronicle big book of 80’s alliteration). But the with the clock ticking onwards, we had our own chance. A beautiful cross onto the head of Julian Jeanvier with the goal gaping. Surely? Surely?? Surely??? Nooooooo!!!  If anything he headed it too well and angled his effort just past the post when straight into the back of the net would have produced the necessary outcome. 

It was an afternoon where football was played in a good spirit and even the players got in on the humour. There’s no-where to hide at Griffin Park, as Hull’s Kingsley discovered upon hearing the shout “You’re not Kingsley. There’s only one Kingsley….” He turned to confront the Braemar Road with an angry scowl on his face before the shout continued… “and he’s got spikey yellow hair”.  Cue the look of confusion turning into a smile of appreciation. At least, I hope that’s what it was. 

It was also an afternoon where I thought we were somewhat unlucky in the end, even if Hull manager Grant McCann did feel that “I think we deserved to win the game. I’ve seen it back and their goal is a yard offside. It’s really disappointing at this level to get a decision like that wrong.”. Hmmm. Perhaps upon review he may feel differently. Ollie’s goal WAS tight but it was onside.

Deserving to win is as false a concept as the possibility of a joke appearing in an episode of Mrs. Browns Boys. The Bees had their chances but couldn’t quite take them. There was no ill-will directed towards the team. This is still a group of players finding their feet together and adjusting to life after Maupay. Leeds United are next up and that one’s only going to be wonderful. Assuming you can afford the £37 away ticket prices. I have no doubt there’ll be plenty of scores to settle from the Elland Road side following the events of last season and, of course, the acquisition of our own new captain over the summer.

Enjoy that one. For now, time to regroup and reflect on the positives

Nick Bruzon

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View from the Braemar. Captain Pontus cools down