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Brilliant Bentley, play-offs, clappers and a special guest in the programme. What an afternoon.

30 Apr

Well, that was some afternoon. Brentford travelled to Fulham where a point was probably a fair result in a game we were lucky not to have gone in three or four down at half time but which ultimately ended 1-1. That they didn’t win will be the least concern for our hosts . With Leeds United going three down at home to Norwich City before eventually managing a point, those results mean that barring a staggering swing in goal difference, Fulham have reached the play-offs and we’ve another trip to Elland Road. And off field, did anybody pick up a copy of the match day programme…..?

First up though, congratulations to Fulham. Yes. It has to be said. A full house at Craven Cottage saw a cracking game of football as the hosts set out to ensure Leeds couldn’t catch them. What happened was as afternoon that will go down as on of those ‘I was  there’ days – for both sides.

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A full house saw a great game in a wonderful atmosphere

Easily one of the best teams to visit Brentford this season (Fulham, not Leeds), Saturday saw them come flying out of the blocks as they looked to get the win they needed to secure a play off spot. With Brentford on the back foot and being carved open for fun, it was only a matter of time before the first goal. Tom Cairney grabbed it after eight minutes and that was, surely, the cue for the floodgates to open?

With the Bees rocking, chance after chance came. Floyd Aite in particular firing so very high and so very wide when clean through. A second goal would have probably been fair on the balance of play but possession, stats and chances count for jack if you can’t put them away.

And sure enough, goal of the season contender Nico Yennaris stepped up. An interchange of passes with Konstantin Kerschbaumer saw the sweetest of finishes into the far corner on the diagonal from just inside the box.
1-1 and the Bees took the noise up another few decibels.

And a good thing too. The goal, obviously, but the even louder support for an already vociferous away following. Anything to drown out those infernal clackers/clappers. Those things that, if you check out the video highlights (and Sky Sports have their version up now), sound like hundreds of charity buckets being rattled.

But with Brentford having hauled themselves back in to it, charitable donations seemed to be the order of the day. How goalscorer Cairney didn’t restore Fulham’s lead I still have no idea. He was left totally unmarked, and I mean totally, 8 yards out but could only guide the inch perfect cross well wide of the goal. Daniel Bentley wasn’t even forced into a save.

Moments later, another chance. Referee Darren Bond awarding what seemed, at the time, a totally innocuous penalty against the Bees. The ball had been crossed in and was pinging around the middle, going nowhere, when he pointed to the spot.

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View from the stand. Penalty – obv

Even watching it afterwards, Yoann Barbet does make contact with Stephan Johansen but only as the ball had been delivered into the heart of the crowded penalty box.  Generous would seem very much the verdict on this one.

Step up Tom Cairney with another chance to let Fulham retake the lead. Step up Daniel Bentley to do his thing quite magnificently and show just why he is up there as a serious, serious contender for player of the season. Diving low to his left he not only pushed the ball clear but then made the bravest of second saves as he threw himself amongst the onrushing boots and onto the ball.

Yessss!  The away fans erupted. Again. The clackers were drowned out. Again. Fulham had seen another gilt edged chance spurned. Again. Daniel Bentley, you beauty.

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View from the stand – Brilliant Bentley does his thing

And with that, half time. Checking the scores saw Leeds United 3-1 down and as good as out. Despite our best efforts in the second period, both teams had really given their all and it couldn’t match the pace of the first. The highlight being a debut for Zain Westbrooke who, along side full backs Tom Field and Josh Clarke really marked a positive embrace of those who have come up from the youth set up and B team.

Sure enough, with the 90 played out and Leeds United all but shooting themselves in the foot, the hosts were happy enough to stroke it around their defence and settle for a point. Brentford fans stayed to applaud the players off (Lasse Vibe, Yoan Barbet and KK amongst those handing over their shirts and really taking in the moment – do we need to read anything into this?) before going off to settle for a pint. The fans, not the players.

Off the field, two moments of real note. Firstly, Matthew Benham taking to Twitter. Always a good thing when this happens, he put the kibosh on any prospect of Lionel Road Clackers.

Like Goal Music, another thing that will have to reside in the drawer labelled : Do not open. Ever.

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And secondly, forgive a bit of self-indulgence.

Back in January, my hitherto unseen identical twin brother Brian Guest saw a tweet from Fulham, looking for home supporters to participate in the ‘Your Club’ section of the matchday programme. This could be amusing (he told me) and applied. One thing led to another and along with a photo of Brian sporting the Spall ’87 Brentford away shirt, a series of tongue-in-cheek answers were submitted. Surely this would never get past the editor?

But it did. Brian’s selection was swiftly confirmed, “A while off but appropriately enough, for the Brentford game”.

Seriously? Had they actually read the answers?

A reminder of the 4-0 defeat at Brentford.  Mention of the recent 4-1 home hammering administered by Stuart Dallas, Alan Judge, Jota et al. The Intertoto Cup – prestige and honour.

It went on. The wonderful Michael Jackson statue appeared. The Pizza Hut shirt. The Richard Osman / Pointless ’joke’ –  something that should contractually be met with tumbleweed these days.

Surely somebody would then look at this and rumble it? Surely?

But no. Before even reaching the Cottage, one Braemar Road observer (and fellow fan of the World Polo finals – thanks!) had already been in touch. It had got through. Commentator par-excellence Mark Burridge then took to Twitter advising likewise. And on reaching the Cottage, there it was (part of which you can see below).

Big thanks Fulham. Seriously. The game may have ended 1-1 but all three points to the Bees off the field.

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Nick Bruzon

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Phil Giles gets personal

2 Dec

I hadn’t planned on doing a Brentford column today. The Huddersfield Town ‘kit obsessive’ feature for the match day programme needs completion and is tempting me like a siren. Although this particular siren is one bedecked in ‘Matchwinner’. All being well it could be a piece to rival that of the Hull City AFC article – a personal favourite from this season’s campaign to date.

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Did Huddersfield’s 93-94 goalie shirt make the cut?

But then, like many Brentford fans, I received a ‘personal’ email from co-director of football Phil Giles yesterday following the appointment of Dean Smith as our new Head Coach.

In Phil’s own words, this was, “to give you a bit more insight into what has been happening over the last few weeks, on behalf of both Rasmus and myself.” The message, which has also been published on the club website and can be read here, then goes on to explain more about the thought process behind ‘The Marinus Experiment’, the excellent role played by Lee Carsley and the move for Dean Smith from Walsall.

Likewise, Phil elaborates on the coaching side of things, the club (and Matthew Benham’s) philosophy aswell as what he and fellow co-director, Rasmus Ankersen, are up to.

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Phil (left) and Rasmus. Co-directors of football at Brentford

Fairplay to Phil, despite his previous assertion that, “In Lee’s last post-match press conference, he discussed the possibility that the Nottingham Forest game would be his last in charge,” he does now acknowledge that “After the Nottingham Forest game, Lee said that it would be his final game in charge.

That former statement was a point that particularly rankled yours truly, along with the general radio silence on the comms front. It is one area I’ve been somewhat critical of this season and as much because of the painful way that Mark Warburton and ‘Village-gate’ was handled back in February.

At times it has seemed as though Brentford struggled to learn from that lesson. Even down to painting a picture at the September Fans’ Forum that everything in the garden was rosy, Marinus wise, before sacking him three days later.

So for the club to update supporters so proactively needs to be applauded. We are where we are and you can’t backdate history to fill in the blanks of things that could/should have been said at the time. But this does now buck that trend. It is a statement out of keeping with most football clubs, let alone ours.

There is a distinct difference between saying nothing and going the other way – trying to explain the mindset behind your decisions and rationale. Phil’s message most definitely falls in the latter camp and was a very welcome breath of fresh air on the comms front. Whether anyone at the club has read these pages (you never know) or it just marks a new approach, either way the intent is very clear.

Nobody can doubt the passion of Matthew Benham and his team, the investment made in Brentford Football Club and the drive towards the Premier League. That’s the tough part and we are doing it so well.

Simple things, like communication, should be an absolute given. You may not agree with everything that was said in the message but how good just to see us making this effort.

Nice one, Phil!

Twitter wag PG

There’s always a Twitter wag  – I can’t take credit for this

Nick Bruzon