Tag Archives: Bolton

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

6 Aug

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

As ever, Sky have the highlights online already whilst the BBC, official, Beesotted and the likes are your place for match reports. This one moreso, where the long arm of the wife and her plans meant it would have been easier to escape from Alcatraz than TW8 yesterday. Yet despite an enforced absence from Bramall Lane, I was full of optimism.

Even the London Evening Standard had failed to put me off my stride on Friday’s journey back from work. Their typically supportive piece on the Bees highlighting our opening day win record. Or, rather, our opening day lack of win record.

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And now make that six. Yet it so easily could have been at least a point.

Most people will point to the double opportunity presented to Nico Yennaris and Lasse Vibe in the second half. Understandably so. It was the proverbial gilt edged chance. With Jota’s shot from outside the box only parried by Blackman in the Sheffield United goal, and the aforementioned players in acres of space just yards out, the ball was headed first against the crossbar and then over.

I’ve rewatched it a few times. You can look to the looping trajectory and height of the ball as it approaches our players. Blackman did well to put them off their stride, too. Yet being honest, one would still have expected to see the net ripple. Only the good people at TheIntakeGroup, Pinders, H.E. Barnes and Sky Bet taking any pleasure from seeing this one again….

Lasse and Nico at Sheff U

If ever an image summed up an afternoon. Sky have it in full

That’s football. Let’s not forget the staggering miss from Lucas João at Griffin Park last August when that other Sheffield side, Wednesday, were the visitors. Just yards out and unmarked in front of the goal, the back of the net was at his mercy as a Fernando Forestieri pass found its way past Daniel Bentley. João was even afforded the luxury of having a couple of stabs at the before somehow conspiring to hoof it clear of the bar.

I could also refer you to Daryl Murphy at Ipswich Town a few seasons ago. One that still sticks in the mind as the Bees were, once more, the beneficiaries of an impossible to miss opportunity being somehow missed with goal gaping and an unmarked player just needing to tap it it in.

It happens. A lot. Obviously we’d have preferred a goal but I’m not going to get hung about it. Besides, overall performance comes across as a largely positive one with the Bees dominating possession and shots at 59%/41% and 12/9 respectively.

Probably not what our performance deserved” said head coach Dean Smith after the game and while he may well be right, as we’ve said many times on these pages that its balls in the back of the net being the only stat that really counts. Sadly for us, Sheffield United aced that column by 1 to 0.

Still, at least our head coach acknowledged this too, noting: “Unfortunately, it’s about putting the ball in the back of the net and we didn’t take our chances today. Billy Sharp’s had one and has ended up winning the game.” And you can read read/see his interview in full on official.

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Dean does his thing at full time

Fair play to the Blades for doing so, too. The warning about their form and their packed house was there for all to see in advance. Safe to say they didn’t let the occasion get the better of them and, subject to the result of the Bolton – Leeds game, are one of eight sides on three points after this opening round of games.

I’d have loved three points. You can bet Sheffield United will be chuffed to bits with their win. And rightly so. On the plus side, we’ve now got a brace of home games in quick succession. Mark Warburton brings his Nottingham Forest team to Griffin Park on Saturday before we host Bristol City three days later. And there’s the small matter of the League cup first round at Wimbledon on Tuesday night.

After months of inactivity, the games are suddenly approaching us thick and fast. And I love it .

Nick Bruzon

Tin foil ready? Potato skins ready? A shot at FA Cup glory awaits….

7 Jan

Finally. The FA Cup third round is here. Brentford host Eastleigh on Saturday afternoon boosted by West Ham suffering a home humping at the hands of Manchester City last night. With the hapless Hammers going down in a game that very much threatened brackets at one stage – City having to settle for 5 rather than 7(seven) – their cup campaign is over. Which, as the principal suitors for goal machine Scott Hogan, can only be good news for the Bees – at least, in the short term.

That’s of no concern to Dean Smith. He has already told BBC Radio London that “If Scott Hogan is fit to play then naturally he will be in the team… If he is not then I won’t risk him. That is not because of any potential move away.”

There you go. Convinced? That said, I do wonder how much last night’s result from the West Ham Olympic stadium may have helped his fitness?

The one thing Dean can’t do, whomever he picks, is underestimate Eastleigh. The non-leaguers represent a huge potato skin for the Bees to slip up on. Putting the Martin Allen factor to one side, let’s not forget how they held Bolton in last year’s third round. Only an 87th minute equaliser from former Bee Darren Pratley sparing the (then) Championship side’s blushes. Even then, they still ran them close in the replay – taking the lead and later levelling things up before Pratley, again, popped up with the decisive goal in five.

Chuck in our own capitulation to Walsall the same weekend and only a fool would take the third round for granted.  Ours and Eastleigh’s were certainly picked out as ties that told the story of the round (the Spitfires even having a quagmire – sorry, pitch- inspection live on Football Focus). Yet as the minnows covered themselves in glory, for the Bees it was a case of wanting to slink away after being dumped out on a woeful afternoon.

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Young Bees and Eastleigh fans tell the story of last year’s 3rd round on the BBC (trophy friends?)

Dean has also spoken of that defeat this week, saying how “It was horrible for me because I wanted to play a full strength team but it was followed immediately by games against two teams (Middlesbrough and Burnley) who went on to get promoted.”.

Whilst hindsight is a wonderful thing, it was a strategy that saw the Bees lose both games anyway. 0-1 to our, so called, bogey team and then 1-3 to Burnley. The latter, in particular, featuring as one-sided a first half as you could fear to see before the Bees were able to make a fight of it at 0-3 down

But with a 9 day break unto our next game, at home to Newcastle United, Dean doesn’t have that issue this time around. So will he go full strength or make some changes?

I’d still expect the latter. I’d still expect Brentford to win. And if the likes of Alan McCormack, KK ,Sam Saunders or even (oh, please) Jota are included than that’s as much a case of picking hungry players with more than a point to prove and more than the ability to perform.

I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again. With tickets available on the day and starting from just £10 for adults where else are you gong to go? Ikea? Westfield? The mother-in-law’s?

Surely it can only be Griffin Park?

See you there.  But not before doing a bit of work with some glue, a roll of tin foil and the pizza box from the XXL I was forced to order last night given the lack of cardboard in our house.

The sacrifices you make for a shot at FA Cup glory….

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The FA Cup smelling of pizza will be ours

Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad and the ugly. Bees reach new heights at Newcastle, Villa do their thing whilst pigs can fly. A week in football.

17 Oct

Brentford went down 3-1 at Newcastle United, who were overtaken in the race to the top of the table by Norwich City. Tuesday night’s opponents Derby County got off to a winning start under new manager Steve McClaren whilst the other team to replace their boss, Aston Villa, churned out yet another draw. That’s 8 out of 12 now for the Villains who sit just one point above the relegation zone. Making up the bottom three are Wigan, Blackburn and Rotherham

That’s the latest Championship action in nutshell. Yet there has been so much more going on in the division and beyond. In the latest of our regular, weekly feature we look back at those things you might have missed from the world of social media.

Whilst it was a week which began with the next round of World Cup qualifiers we’ll start, as ever, with Brentford. Our trip to Newcastle was one which ended in disappointment. Fan opinion seemed to be largely that the moment got the better of us.

But whatever happened on the pitch, nobody could doubt the fans had fun. And what a sight.

Looking down on the action at Newcastle was a unique experience. A wonderful opportunity to watch play unfold or the last of us just making it down from the 14 flights of stairs now?

Brentford aren’t  the only ones travelling well. For all that nobody is sniggering at the plight Aston Villa find themselves in , you can’t deny their fans are fiercely loyal.

That’s great work. Seriously. Getting home from that one isn’t going to be fun. At least Villa will have a point to celebrate with (the draw currently at a very generous 23/10).

Aston Villa weren’t the only ones to pick up a point. As Norwich City went top, Ipswich Town laboured to a 0-0 with Blackburn. Bad enough, without your neighbours then putting the boot in .

Charlton Athletic also had trouble on the pitch before eventually putting Coventry City to the sword. Given their high profile relations (or lack of) with their supporters it was nice to see them doing all possible to maintain a sense of perspective.

It wasn’t just pigs invading football pitches at the weekend. There were dogs joining in the action, too

Next up, kit news. And there’s lots of it. With Brentford celebrating their 4,000th league game on Saturday there had been a hope we might have worn some form of celebratory shirt. Whilst this doesn’t seem to be the case (as it stands), over in the Netherlands Sparta have taken that idea forward.

What a beauty. That said, whilst I’m all for a retro style shirt, let’s hope Derby County don’t go down that route on Tuesday night . This one flashed across my timeline on Friday.

Bolton Wanderers are also making the headlines. Their kitman not a patch on our own Bob Oteng. Certainly, if this is the best he can come up with.

Whilst the club may not be giving us a special kit for Saturday, let’s hope the marketing team aren’t casting their eyes towards Portugal. Just when you thought there was nothing left for a club to stick their name on, think again.

There were international games at the start of the week, too. Nobody needs any reminder of that so we’ll keep it to two that seem to sum things up nicely.

But we’ll finish with clowns. Not the crazy killer variety but over at Loftus Road where, it seems, they are struggling with the atmosphere.

Oh dear.

Nick Bruzon 

Do derbies get any bigger (but who’s Staying Alive?)

29 Apr

Whilst Newcastle United v Sunderland could well be one of the big derbies in next season’s Championship (unlikely though it seems look at the table – it doesn’t lie), 2015/16 draws to a close with what is one of the most hotly contested local rivalries that our division currently has to offer. It’s only Brentford v Fulham !

Our final game of the campaign at Griffin Park sees a visit from a Fulham side who have only picked up 1 point out of a possible 9 against Brentford since our paths have crossed once more. And even that was only thanks to a wayward linesman denying Jota a late winner that was subsequently proven to have been onside when we played away in December.

Jota onside v Fulham

Jota WAS onside at Fulham (thanks, Channel 5)

The Bees have found the back of the net 8 times in those three games and so couldn’t have picked a better time to welcome back Lasse Vibe and Scott Hogan. This, after the pair were both rested for the trip to Hull City (move along, nothing to see here) in midweek.

Indeed, at one point it seems as though this might even have been the ultimate survival battle for both teams. However, a resurgent Brentford have stormed up to 10th whilst ongoing ineptitude from MK Dons, Charlton and Bolton mean that Fulham have had the hard work done for them.

Regardless, it still promises to be a more than spicy encounter. Derby games always are and the Cottagers will not doubt be finally hoping to get one over us. Make no mistake though, Dean Smith will know exactly what this means in TW8 and will be looking to sign off in front of the home fans with nothing but three points.

On a personal note, it’s the final ‘kit obsessive’ article of the season in the match day programme. The feature won’t be back next campaign for the simple reason that we’ve already ‘done’ most of our opponents. That’s not to say there won’t be a few one off specials on those newcomers to the Championship.

Without wanting to give too much away about tomorrow’s feature, I did stumble across something interesting whilst looking into the Fulham back catalogue. Were those black collars and white shirt the unlikely inspiration for John Travolta, whose ’Saturday Night Fever’ came out just after the Cottagers had reached the 1975 FA Cup final….

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Love those collars..

The other reason to mention Newcastle United and Sunderland at the top of the article was, specifically, because FourFourTwo magazine are currently running an online article featuring the 50 biggest derbies in world football. This North-East rivalry is included although, with only the top ten to go and London already featured with Arsenal v Tottenham, there is no sign of the Bees. Yet.

Could we still feature? Having already gone through some huge names I’d suggest it unlikely, although I still live in hope. Still, if that’s a disappointment , one other positive is that the part on Southampton v Portsmouth (which ranked higher than both the Tottenham and Newcastle encounters)  does not include a picture of John Westwood.

It’s wonderful that they’ve not bowed to the almost contractual obligation of having to accompany any feature on the South Coast club with a picture of the fright wig, stove pipe hat, engraved teeth and bell of self-appointed ‘Mr Portsmouth’. I’m sure he’s a ‘character’ but he’s one I’ve no desire to see, hear or smell any more of than we’ve already been exposed to over the years.

And finally, it’s our last look at Kitman Bob and his BBGiveaway. Who knows what he’s going to test us with tomorrow but with a huge roll over prize on offer, including the incredible one-of-a-kind signed shirt, I can only hope it is something special.

Tuesday night saw supporters given the wonderful challenge of having a selfie taken with Peter Gilham. How can that be topped? Knowing Bob, very easily 🙂

Keep an eye on his Twitter feed today and tomorrow to find out. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Bob has been an absolute legend this season and such a credit to Brentford football club.

Thanks, Bob ! I can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve….

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This stunning prize is still up for grabs, c/o Kitman Bob

Nick Bruzon

Three years on, can anybody get past Sergi?

28 Apr

Yesterday was one of those wonderful days for Brentford fans. Not the fact that it was three years since ‘that’ penalty, although the club did make a point of this (to the minute) on ‘official’ Twitter. More, that Liverpool loanee Sergi Canos has given us another reason to recognise his brilliance as the goal of the season video was released.

First up though (and briefly) it shows how far we’ve come that the crossbar affair can now held up as some sort of anniversary. If not one to be overly celebrated then certainly something that will never be forgotten. That can only be a good thing too because it hadn’t really been mentioned by anybody. Ever. Out of adversity comes triumph and all that.

Certainly the Bees picked themselves up in some style and despite the heartbreaking play-off defeat at ‘The W place’, the rest is history

Nobody particularly needs another discourse from me on the subject. There’s been plenty written already about the subsequent fall out and Brentford’s spectacular surge to the fringes of the Premier League although if you would like to read more etc etc…  (hey, it’s been a while).

No, the main reason for yesterday’s excitement was because it saw the contenders for goal of the season released. And with voting now open, there’s an incredible shortlist for the Sergi Canos v Reading (a) award.

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Bees Player viewers see Sergi celebrate that incredible effort

Yet, yet, yet. Is the winner such a foregone conclusion? Yes, it was a strike that the rewind button (or is it a ‘back arrow’ these days?)  was specifically made for but there are some other wonderful moments in there.

Ryan Woods in the same game was pretty special too whilst you can only admire Lasse Vibe’s acrobatics v MK Dons. How about Marco Djuricin’s quite wonderful control and turn to put himself in a goal scoring position against Preston North End or the unadulterated emotion of his winner agasint the Loftus Road mob?

John Swift hit a beauty against Bolton whilst there’s a fantastic four from Alan Judge. That’s a third of the entire shortlist dedicated to one man alone yet each of them ‘A rated’ class!

That said, as one Ealing Road observer would later note – “It would be nice for Judge not to win an award, just to give him a rest and stop him getting up and down all night.

Can anybody outclass Sergi?

Twelve absolute stunners and whoever does win, there won’t be any complaints. For me (Clive) despite all of this there’s still no getting past Canos. But if you don’t take my word for it (and frankly, why would anybody?) then there are two other tell-tale signs.

First up,  Mark Burridge’s commentary. You’ll find the two Reading goals about four minutes in and, it’s fair to say, our commentator par-excellence has a moment to rival his infamous ‘Burridgegasm‘. The one when Jota scored ’Brentford’s goal of the 21st Century?’ against Blackburn Rovers last season .

Secondly, Sam Saunders. The regular reader may be aware our number 7(seven) is my favourite player. We all have one and, for me, it’s Sam.

In a way I’m glad his run and strike against Leeds United wasn’t on the shortlist. It would have made the vote a much trickier one. For about two seconds.

Yet whilst questioning it’s absence on social media last night, none other than the great man himself popped up to reply that the “celebration was worth it alone” before making the  magnanimous acknowledgement that, “only winner young Sergi

If it’s good enough for the man who has made those wonderful strikes from ’Saunders territory’ his own over the years, then who are we to argue?

Sergi. Better get that speech ready for the awards night.

The master has spoken 

Nick Bruzon

Football reaches an all time low

22 Apr

Match day is almost upon us once more. Brentford visit MK Dons knowing that a point will be sufficient to confirm the home side’s relegation back to League One. Over in Italy meanwhile, AC Milan used last night’s Serie A game with Capri to come out with something so cringeworthy as to make #trophyfriends and #BigNewAmbitions seem tame in comparison.

First up, MK Dons. There was genuine sadness amongst many supporters when Charlton joined Bolton in being relegated to League One. The controversy going on at the club surrounding owner Roland Duchatelet and the set up at The Valley has blighted their campaign, culminating in that bizarre ‘telling off’ administered to fans back in mid March.

For all that people have moaned this season about some aspects of life at Griffin Park, our ‘problems’ are, on the surface, just a drop in the ocean compared to those of the Addicks. It’s always been a great club to go and visit (especially pre-match) and for that reason alone I’ll be sad to see them outside of our league next year. Here’s hoping they bounce back fast.

Yet, on the flip side, I can’t imagine there’ll be any tears shed amongst supporters if MK Dons join them. This most divisive of clubs have done nothing but upset football fans up and down the country since their relocation and rebranding of Wimbledon FC 11 years ago.

Closer to home, we’ve had our own runs in with the club. Manager Karl Robinson left “shaken” (not my words but those of the Daily Mirror – I know) after claiming to have had a pint glass thrown at him by Bees fans back in 2012.

Chief Executive Mark Devlin, of course, categorically denied the claims – if for no other reason than we all know it’s physically impossible to find a pint glass within 100 square metres of Griffin Park on Match Day. All we have are those flimsy plastic things to wash down the free chili.

Whilst charges were never pressed by the police, not unsurprisingly that memory still lingers amongst Brentford supporters. Ordinarily I’d say it would be wrong to take pleasure in another club’s misfortunes and I’m sure Dean Smith will only be interested in keeping our unbeaten run going as we close in on QPR.

But for the Bees fans, I’m sure that a win or draw this Saturday will be treated far more excitedly than the point(s) would, ordinarily, warrant. Here’s to the weekend – whether you follow on BeesPlayer or live at Stadium MK, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of Bees fans with their fingers crossed for the right result come 5pm.

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Could this happen on Saturday?

ok – Italy. We all know that football is becoming much more corporate these days and the fans so, so sterile. Whilst I’m not advocating a return to the dark days of hooliganism by any stretch, the library at Arsenal or tourist trap at Stamford Bridge show how our stadia are becoming soulless arenas of polite applause. Our game is littered with fans wearing half and half scarfs whilst sporting selfie sticks and listening to ‘goal music’.

Yet AC Milan have taken this to the next level of awfulness after performing a pre-match haka on the San Siro pitch before kick off for last night’s match against Capri.

This, bad enough. The haka, from a sporting perspective, belongs exclusively to New Zealand. And they’re welcome to it. What on earth has the haka got to do with football? Or Milan?

Promoting skin-care company Nivea is the answer. One part of the Milan haka involves them rejigging the traditional dance to mimic the application of face cream.

Sometimes words just aren’t enough. The shameless appropriation of another team’s culture and history is below.

Not that such an act has anything to do with Saturday.

Nick Bruzon

Selection posers for Dean but will there be a Swift return? For Mark.

12 Apr

One can’t over emphasise the importance of Brentford having inflicted such a comprehensive defeat on Ipswich Town over the weekend. Three successive wins also saw another three goal display, following the previous victories over Bolton Wanderers and Nottingham Forest. But, for me (Clive), it was the calibre of the opposition that was just as pleasing this time around.

Make no mistake, Ipswich were still harbouring play-off aspirations. The key word being ‘were’ – it’s safe to say those are dead in the water now. Likewise, it would be equally fair to say we’ve struggled against them since our promotion to the Championship. Two tough draws and that heavy Boxing Day defeat at Griffin Park, where victory would have seen Mark Warburton’s Bees go top of the table, have placed the Tractor Boys close to the Middlesbrough category when it comes to teams we’ve struggled with.

Equally, I’ve heard some naysayers talking about the quality of the opposition prior to that game. Bolton were doomed whilst Nottingham Forest had hit freefall and, even by their own supporters’ admission, put in one of the worst performances seen in that second half.

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A handful of Bolton fans were present as Brentford continued their winning run

Hey. As has been said before, you can only beat who is in front of you and we’ve struggled against poor teams in the past. But it does make the next few games – home to Bristol City and Cardiff City – very interesting.

Nobody needs any reminding of what happened to Alan Judge on Saturday. That said, the universal reaction of love and support from the Brentford fans aswell as many from Ipswich – shocked by Luke Hyam’s brutal assault – has provided some small level of comfort. Likewise, you can only have been moved by the philosophical approach and positivity shown in the subsequent statement and photograph that the Judge released.

Being pragmatic, we still have those Bristol and Cardiff games to prepare for and they are going to provide Dean Smith with further selection challenges. Alan would, of course, have been one of the first names on the team sheet but we know that is not going to happen again this season. So what will Dean do?

Konstantin Kerschbaumer, like the rest of his team mates, gave a very well received performance coming off the bench at Portman Road. Does he keep his place? What about Nico Yennaris? He, of course, playing in his new midfield role had scored in those two wins prior to Ipswich before missing that one through illness. Does he walk straight back into the team?

Then, of course, there is John Swift. He probably presents the trickiest of all decisions. Since his and Josh McEachran’s injury enforced absences the team has started to win. And win. Whilst, like Alan, we won’t be seeing Josh again this season, surely John’s gash will have healed sufficiently to allow him to be in contention this Saturday?

Whilst commons sense would suggest he will have to be content with, at best, a place on the bench this Saturday could that also be a longer term thing? Or will he walk straight back into the starting XI ?

Clearly a player admired for his talent and skill, he has come in for equal amounts of criticism for those misplaced passes, getting caught out of position and being generally lightweight at times. Oh for the Swift of the wins at home to Wolves or QPR rather than the no show at Loftus Road. Too often though, we’ve seen the latter from a player who is, let’s not forget, still learning his game and packed with potential.

There are only six league games left. The Bees are safe. Being honest, most of us were preparing for life without Alan Judge although due to his inevitable, post Euros, sale rather than the subsequent injury related reason. But what about John Swift? Don’t forget he is only here on loan.

Does Dean use these last few games to now look at his full time squad members for next season? Giving them a consistent run to see just how well they can do? After shuffling his pack these last few months, he does seem to have hit a winning formula.

Will that also see Swift going back to his parent club when the season draws to a close? Or is the England U-21 in his and Matthew Benham’s longer term plans?  Indeed, will Chelsea even want to sell him to the Bees ?

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Oh for more of Swift at his best

Certainly, these are questions that won’t be answered any time soon and I’d be amazed if we learn anything this weekend. Then again, I’m just the numpty on the terrace so what do I know? Just putting it out there to see who bites and what people think.

The other selection problem faced by Brentford is, of course, in the Bees Player commentary box. Nobody doubts that Mark Burridge does a stunning job talking us through the season. It is for good reason he is called ‘the commentator par-excellence’ and rivals the mellifluous Billy Reeves with his own, wonderful style.

Yet.Yet. Yet. His recent trip to the Augusta Masters has seen him, like John Swift, miss the last three games. And we all know what happened in them. 9 goals and 9 points.

Could this be the ultimate case of the commentator’s curse? Will Matthew Benham be revoking his press pass? Or will we be welcoming Mark back with open arms?

I only hope the latter. He does a stunning job for those displaced Brentford fans who can’t make the games and it’s always a pleasure listening to him. Instead, let’s put those three wins simply down to his own excellent delegation skills rather than any jinx !

Whilst I’ll be at the Bristol City game on Saturday, here’s to hearing Mark and Ciaran talking through another win on Sunday’s highlight’s package.

Nick Bruzon 

The Juggernaut v the Oil Tanker awaits as Bees take on Ipswich

8 Apr

It only seems like five minutes ago that Brentford couldn’t buy a win yet now we have the chance to make it three on the spin with the trip to Ipswich Town imminent. Victories at Nottingham Forest (3-0) and then home to Bolton (3-1) have surely crushed those lingering relegation doubts as morale has soared.

In his press conference on Thursday Dean Smith made all the right noises about the huge boost these results had been whilst giving an update on the current injury situation. With our Head Coach confirming that John Swift and Leandro Rodriguez (amongst others) will both miss out again through injury, I really can’t see any changes to the team that started so brightly against Bolton on Tuesday night.

Given that  the Bees did, if we’re being honest, allow Wanderers back into a game where a stronger team would have punished us in the second half, there can be no room for any let up this time around. Ipswich are still pushing for the play-off spot that they also made last season and you can be sure Mick McCarthy will be expecting three points from his team.

Last season’s encounter at Portman Road finished in a 1-1 draw, notable for Daryl Murphy somehow missing an unmissable goal for the home side when all he had to do was tap it into the gaping net. It was an effort described afterwards by Mick Mills and his local radio commentary team as: “Breathtaking. It will go into the top ten all time misses. If you can find ten worse ones I’d like to see them.”

Murphy miss FLS Ipswich

BBC FLS viewers saw Murphy set to pounce. And fail (for once)

Murphy remains leading scorer for Ipswich this season although will miss out this time round as he his still suffering with a knock picked up on international duty.  Despite ‘that miss’ this should really be seen as a boost for the Bees although, of course, we still have the prospect of lining up against Jonathan Douglas once more.

The thought of seeing him facing off to Alan McCormack in midfield is a delicious one. Goliath v Goliath. The Juggernaut v the Oil Tanker. No prisoners will be taken whilst, of course,  there was the incident at the end of our clash at Griffin Park this season.

Back in August, we opened proceedings at home to Ipswich as the Marinus era kicked off with such optimism. Then it all went South as the game started with Andre Gray on the bench, the pitch turned into that infamous minefield and Ipswich cruised into a two goal lead either side of half time. We didn’t even see Macca take on Dougie as our man went off 6 minutes before the former Bee came on.

From that point though, things went a bit bonkers. Andre pulled one back in Jota time before James Tarkowski sent the crowd wild with a 96th minute equaliser. Dougie still had time to accidentally (I’m sure) stand on Jota’s foot and spanner him for the next few months. Indeed, there was an exchange at full time where eagle-eyed Bees Player viewers caught sight of Douglas swinging an arm at the Spanish hero.

Douglas hits jota post Ipswich

Bees Player viewers saw Dougie appear to give Jota a ‘girly slap’.

Will that be water under the bridge now or will the memory linger? I’m sure the former, if for no other reason than Jota has (sadly) moved back to Spain ‘on loan’ whilst Dean Smith will no doubt have drilled the importance for discipline into his team. Regardless, the fans are likely to remind Dougie of this incident whilst the battle with Macca, regardless of anything that had gone before, will alway be a fascinating one.

That said, what do I know? Listening to the latest Beesotted podcast on the way to work this morning it was very interesting to hear the views of Town supporter Harry ‘from Bath’. Of course, come for the views of Billy (Grant), Sav, Matt, Dave and terrace wag Gemma Teale but stay for Harry’s insight. You’ll find that part just after the hour…

Another point of note from Dean’s press conference was his observation that, “Historically the pitch at Portman Road has always been fantastic so hopefully it will be the same and we can play some of our football.” Nobody needs any reminding about the state of the Griffin Park pitch at the start of this season and the huge holes that began to appear where it seems that somebody had forgotten that all important point of letting the turf bed in.

With the Bees confidence returning and the side being encouraged to run at their opponents, it will be fascinating to see what we can now do on a level playing field.

Whether in the stands at Portman Road or alongside Billy Reeves on Bees Player, on Saturday afternoon we find out.

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Bru celebrated (too early) as Ipswich opened the scoring last time

Nick Bruzon

We’ve got that Vibe (but Mark has a few things to answer)

6 Apr

Dean Smith’s team have done it again. That’s 6 goals and 6 points in two games for Brentford as they eased past Bolton with a 3-1 win at Griffin Park on Tuesday night. Again Nico Yennaris grabbed a goal from midfield and again, Beesplayer commentator par-excellence Mark Burridge was absent from the commentary box. Meanwhile, Mark Warburton and his Rangers team secured a return to the Scottish Premiership as the Glasgow outfit secured the Championship title with a 1-0 win over Dumbarton.

But we can only begin by reviewing events at Griffin Park where a 3 goal spell in 19 first half minutes wrapped things up for the Bees. Nico grabbed the opener from close range whilst Lasse Vibe completed the scoring with a fine pair. His first saw the Dane working through a crowd in the box until he found clear air whilst the second was a fine header from Judge cross.

Brentford Bolton Griffin Park

A handful of Bolton fans were present as Nico and Lasse scored 3 first half goals

It was a second goal in as many games for Nico and a third over the same spell from Lasse as the Bees matched the three goals they scored in Saturday’s second half at Nottingham Forest. But whilst it may look comfortable on paper, with some fans already looking ahead to the brackets that come with 7(seven) goals Bolton were allowed back into a game which, but for some better shooting, they may well have got something out of.

That’s not to overly criticise but more to note that we are by no means the finished article. The second half in particular saw us pushing our luck. Bolton were allowed to run at the Bees defence whilst Macca gave away a very soft looking penalty that Zach Clough converted to give the Trotters hope. That said, he nearly made it four himself with an absolute pile driver that Bolton ‘keeper Ben Amos did well to tip over at the last moment.

As for Nico Yennaris, he’s been viewed (unfairly) as one of the ‘fall guys’ by certain sections of social media all season and so to see him shine in midfield is nothing short of wonderful. Two goals in two games and another dominant, positive performance from the player usually found at right back have been a real plus for Dean Smith. This, at a time when both Josh McEachran and John Swift have been missing. Literally (with injury), rather than metaphorically as some have noted in recent games.

These wins have been earned against sides who, if we’re being equally honest, haven’t been great yet at the same time, we can only beat the team in front of us. As was noted just yesterday, how often in the past have underrated teams failed to read the script and given Brentford unexpected trouble?

Instead, yesterday’s game put me in mind of last season’s against Blackpool. Playing a similarly doomed team under floodlights, the Bees ended it looking like comfortable winners.

Clearly the players were in high spirits, with Twitter once more awash with plenty of good vibes and even, dare I say it, ‘bantz’ (Urrgh, I feel so dirty). What a world away from all the going again or apologising to the fans that were the hallmarks of the early months in 2016.

Sam tweet Lasse

As hit Andy Carol ??? Sam with the Twitter ‘bantz’

The gap to the bottom three is now 12 points (effectively 13 with GD) and the teams in the drop zone only have 6 games left to play. The Bees are up to 14th and 7(seven) points off a tenth place that Dean Smith was targetting as he spoke to the press after the game. “It means we can go to Ipswich on Saturday and try to make it three wins in a row and then we can be looking at a top 10 finish,” he told journalists.

Personally, I’d be ecstatic if we could build on this to finish as top team in West London. The Bees are 5 clear of Fulham and just 3 behind QPR with a game in hand on both sides – albeit at promotion chasing Hull City ! For now though, let’s just enjoy the moment and then start to think about a rematch with Jonathan Douglas and his Ipswich Town side at the weekend.

The other point of note for last night was one more applicable to those amongst us who look for omens, jinxes and signs. For the second game in a row , Brentford scored three goals and picked up three points. For the second game in a row, the commentating legend that is Mark Burridge missed proceedings due to his taking a well earned break.

Much as he is, without doubt, untouchable when it comes to this role, I can’t help but wonder if his absence is another catalyst in the Bees resurgence?  From an albatross on the golf course to an albatross in the commentary box? Or nothing more than Brentford playing to the best of their ability against struggling teams?

Saturday against Ipswich Town could be interesting – if nothing else for the phone calls to immigration should Brentford make it 3 in a row…

And finally, huge congratulations to Mark Warburton. Rangers 1-0 victory last night secured the Championship title, promotion and a return to the Premiership for the Ibrox team.

His popularity at Griffin Park was, and still is, no secret. Certainly something that was evident by the huge swathe of good wishes in his direction on Twitter last night.

Whilst the Bees are now heading well into a new era, nobody could deny the role Mark played in getting us to this point. Things were ‘that close’ for Warbs and the Bees last time out – how good to see this most admired of managers taking that next step this time around.

Nice one, Mark.

Nick Bruzon

Plenty of questions as Bees and Bolton await ‘win or bust’ clash

5 Apr

Brentford take on Bolton Wanderers tonight, knowing that a win should all but end any lingering thoughts about a shock relegation whilst, at the same time, dooming our opponents to League 1 (maths aside) should Fulham also emerge triumphant from their game . For one team, the chance to take on the likes of Aston Villa and Newcastle United – certainly on current form. For the other, trips to Northampton Town and Accrington Stanley could be on the cards.

Those are the stark realities between going down or staying up. At least, from a playing perspective. The off field and financial impact is sure to be infinitely greater but, from the supporters perspective, who and where the team is playing has to be well up there as the priority.

This has all been noted several times in recent weeks, of course. Yet to take survival for granted is a foolhardy action and moreso as a 14 point gap had halved over a period that had seen the Bees lose 11 out of 14 competitive fixtures in 2016. Then we beat Nottingham Forest at the weekend and everything seemed back to normal.

Whilst one would assume that the gap is too big now, I’ve supported Brentford far too long take to anything for certain. Season after season, until we are mathematically safe (or promoted – it does happen, sometimes) it becomes a case of gritting teeth and clenching buttocks. So, will we do it this time around?

The short answer is, yes. 9 points (effectively 10) is simply too big a gap. There are 7(seven) teams below us, many of whom need to play each other still. That’s almost a third of the teams in the league. Indeed, a win for the Bees tonight will take us to the same number of points as 12th placed Wolves .

And that’s not me assuming victory is a given. Bolton will no doubt provide very dangerous opposition. This really is ‘win or bust’ for them and so they may aswell just go for it. How often have we seen teams come out all guns blazing when their backs are to the wall ? How often have we seen an almost certain home victory fail to materialise?

Whilst I’d take nothing for granted in this most unusual of seasons, who didn’t honestly expect us to pick up all three points last campaign at home to Bolton and also Millwall? As the Bees entered the denouement of that one,chasing their Premier League promotion slot, both games ended 2-2 when form dictated that no result beyond ‘home win’ was possible.

Can we go one better tonight? With the Bees finally back to winning ways following the weekend win at the City Ground one would hope so. Morale should be high amongst both fans and players whilst the pressure should have eased off somewhat. At least, for Brentford.

Aside from over-confidence, the other point of caution is around injuries. The BBC report that Alan Judge and David Button, the main contenders for our ‘player of the season’, were both “nursing knocks after Saturday’s win at Nottingham Forest but should be fit”.

Alan Judge corner Rotherham

Alan Judge – goals and set pieces make him a ‘must’

All being well this is nothing but a cautionary note and both players will be available. I don’t think there’s any team in this league (or higher) who wouldn’t want players of this quality.

The other big name to be missing will be Mark Burridge. Whatever my thoughts on the Bees Player team in his absence, nobody can deny that they over saw a win for Brentford. Rather than lucky shirt, magic pants, Dean Smith’s tactics or any other reasoning, could a return to form simply be down to our commentator par-excellence being off duty for a few games?

Should the Bees secure all three points this evening, there could be more than a fair few ‘cheeky’ posts flying around social media in Mark’s direction.

In all seriousness though, this isn’t going to be easy. Yet, at the same time, Brentford should surely have enough in them to lay any fleeting relegation concerns to rest.

Surely…

Nick Bruzon