Tag Archives: Eastleigh

As Michael and Martin prepare to drop their balls, who do you want in the fourth round?

9 Jan

Brentford are safely through to the fourth round of the FA Cup where we will be ball number 27 in Monday night’s draw. Others to look out for include: Manchester City (8) , Chelsea (13), Arsenal (20) , Fulham (21) and Hull City (4). There’s no QPR, though, as they’ve been knocked out.

With 32 teams (subject to replays playing out) left, the rewards for starting the competition as a Championship club are clear. The question now being whether your preference is a ‘winnable’ home game for the sake of longer term progression or a glamour tie with the likes of the aforementioned Chelsea, Manchester City et al for a chance to test ourselves in the backyards of the very best. Or Arsenal.

Equally possible is a dour draw. Away to the likes of a Middlesbrough, Blackburn Rovers or Derby County. Games we’ve seen week in, week out over the last few seasons and one with about as much cup magic as a children’s party entertainer.

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More cup magic here than a trip to Middlesbrough

Of course, there’s no guarantees of anything being winnable these days regardless of league placing.

Just look at Bournemouth, Liverpool, Ipswich Town and Rotherham United from this weekend alone. Complacency can be the mother of all foul ups, with teams having a tendency to raise their game when the next round of the cup comes.

Surely the dream ticket is ‘big club’ , at home. A chance for us to dent the hopes of more glamorous opposition and make a name for ourselves. Such moments, whilst fleeting for a club like Brentford, really are the stuff of dreams. We’ve done it over the years. Trumping the likes of Manchester City and Sunderland whilst running Southampton and Chelsea more than close. Oh, for a chance to do it once more.

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Bliss doing his thing against Manchester City in the fourth round – January 1989

Whoever it is, FA Cup ‘legends’ Martin Keown and Michael Owen will be the men pulling the balls from the tombola (please, don’t…). BT Sport is the place to catch the action if you want to see it all unfold.

This most famous of tournaments may have lost much of its sheen in recent years, with many ‘big’ clubs viewing it as an inconvenicene (surely there is a case here for just putting the League cup out of its misery) but nobody can deny that the moment of anticipation as we await the first of the names to be read out is second to none in football. Even now.

Here’s to number 27.

As one final thought today, for anybody wondering why Hull City were name checked at the top end of the article, then you may want to read a quite wonderful analysis of the weekend’s happenings c/o Football365 (@F365 on Twitter).

Oh for the ability to write like this. Well, well worth a read. Unless you are Paul Merson or Phil Thompson.

Nick Bruzon

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Romaine’s rocket rounds off fine win as Jota returns, youth shines and Buzzette has her own moment.

8 Jan

In the end there was no potato skin for the Bees and there was no cup upset as Brentford made light work of the FA Cup third round tie with Martin Allen’s Eastleigh. Yet a final scoreline of 5-1 barely tells the story of an afternoon which saw as much interest in our own tie as that involving Newcastle United and Birmingham. That game ending in a draw means we now host the Magpies this Saturday afternoon (14th) rather than a Monday night televised game two days later.

As ever, if you want the full match report then ‘official’, Beesotted, the BBC (who also have the video highlights on theirs) are your best bets. That said there were still plenty of talking points from this one, not the least of which Dean Smith’s team selection.

Given the ‘injury’ suffered by Scott Hogan in the 93rd minute at Birmingham and which the striker is apparently still suffering from he was never likely to feature in this one but, otherwise, it was as strong a line up as one could hope to see. Lessons had clearly been learned from last season with no chances being taken. The response to this decision was an emphatic one.

The Bees found the back of the net 5 times in the first half, with the pick of the bunch being the fifth. Romaine Sawyers unleashing a low shot from well outside the box that was less piledriver  and more laser guided missile. Oh, what a shot. Whoever you are playing there’s just no legislating for this sort of quality. More and more we are starting to see just what this man can do. And it’s wonderful.

Prior to this, Yoann Barbet opened proceedings from the spot before Tom Field made it two. The young left back nodding home a quite delightful ball in from that man Sawyers. Lasse Vibe grabbed the third as the Bees threatened to run riot. Instead, with goal four Eastleigh were given new hope as Daniel Bentley punched a corner onto his own bar and it was stabbed home for 3-1.

It was short lived. Instead of the Spitfires turning the tide, they were shot down by Tom Field’s second and the aforementioned rocket from Romaine. Surely things could only get better?

5-1 up at half time,  Field having what he would later tell ‘official’ was “easily the best day of my life” and Jota was yet to make it not the pitch. At the very least we were odds on to crack open those glorious brackets that come with 7(seven) goals when the second period began. Alas, it was not to be.

With Brentford winding it back we had to be content with a half hour cameo from Jota. But what a sight. The reaction from the crowd said it all as the Spaniard made his way onto the pitch, every subsequent touch being treated to a huge cheer. One can only imagine the noise had he scored whilst Peter Gilham, who had spent the first half plugging little Italian restaurants on Brentford lock, would likely have self combusted.

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 Peter remains the king of effortless cool

The return of the talismanic midfielder does raise a question, though. Just how does one pronounce his name? I heard three variants yesterday:

Yacht-a : Dean Smith 

Hoe-ta : Peter Gilham

Hotter : everybody else

Answered on a postcard please, marked: Hotter

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Guess who’s back? Jota returns, as seen on official Twitter

Aswell as Tom Field doing his thing, it was great to see another youngster, Chris Mepham, given his first chance in the team as he came on for captain Harlee Dean. Looking calm and composed already, if Chris makes even half the impact that Tom has done so far then good times can surely be ahead.

As for Scott Hogan, if he is genuinely injured then fair enough but nobody was buying it. At least, amongst the supporters who were convinced this omission was simply to avoid being cup tied prior to any sale.

To be fair, I can sympathise with Dean for resting his star man (regardless of the state of his buttocks) although I wasn’t convinced by his subsequent talk about the player whilst undergoing Billy Reeves’ post match probing.

What can he do, though? Very much a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t when it comes to discussing this situation. Let’s just hope that with the Newcastle United game now on Saturday he is very much recovered and still a Bee. As Dean told Billy, “I’m hoping Scott will be back in training Monday or Tuesday. It wasn’t right to risk him in today’s game.

Yet all of that is a case of ifs, buts and maybes. At least, for now. On a day which saw the hero that is Martin Allen return to Griffin Park (where he was given a quite wonderful and fully deserved reception before , during and after the game) Brentford made it through to the fourth round of the FA Cup.

As supporters held their traditional tin foil trophies aloft, even Buzzette got in on the act – waving the pizza box based trophy from yesterday’s column around Griffin Park. This, something even Match of the Day would later pick up on.

Let’s just hope she hasn’t got pepperoni on her paws this morning.

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

As both managers speak, who will come out on top in FA Cup third round and who will start?

6 Jan

Brentford begin their FA Cup campaign on Saturday and it couldn’t be more intriguing if it tried. Martin Allen, a man who needs no introduction to Bees’ fans, brings his non-league Eastleigh side to Griffin Park for a third round tie that has so much to offer. But where to start ? And who will start?

Staff wise, the two names on everybody’s lips at the moment are Jota and Hogan. The former having returned from his loan in Spain this week with supporters desperate to see this most popular of players back in the red and white. One can only imagine the roof will come off when his name is announced, let alone when / if he makes it onto the pitch. Is it too soon? Could it be the perfect opportunity to reintegrate him to the first team? What a lovely decision Dean has to make.

As for Scott Hogan, stories are flying around thick and fast in regards to bids coming in fro the likes of Watford and West Ham. To those of us on the outside looking in, his sale looks a foregone conclusion but could Matthew Benham hold firm in regards to his most coveted asset?

Starting Scott on Saturday, effectively cup tieing the player prior to any potential move,  would be a key sign that we are not looking to sell. However, injury looks to have taken that one out of Dean’s hands anyway. The spasm in his right buttock which led to Scott being substituted in the 93rd minute on Saturday has now been changed to a glute injury, according to BBC Radio London.

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Is Scott on the injury list? Or the shopping list?

Whatever the cause, one could imagine him being rested tomorrow. Although, equally, West Ham host Manchester City tonight in their own third round tie. It is more than feasible that one of Scott’s reported suitors might not even be involved by the time we start proceedings.

Whomever starts tomorrow, this game represents a huge opportunity for Brentford to (apologies in advance) go again. Our recent form has not been great in this oldest of competitions and that’s being polite.

Brentford’s previous FA Cup game, at home to a Walsall side that Dean Smith had just left to join the Bees, was utterly shambolic. Apologies but there’s no other word for it. And moreso coming off the back of our League Cup humiliation at the hands of Oxford United where Marinus seemed to have picked his team on the basis of youth and inexperience.

Last year’s third round was a day that started with so much promise and ended with so much frustration. I’m absolutely convinced we’ll have learned from that and won’t make the same mistakes of complacency this time around. The lure of the fourth round and the prospect of fans being able to lift their tin foil trophies high are simply too great.

Certainly, Dean seems set for a cup run, despite acknowledging the slip hazard this game represents when he spoke to ‘official’ yesterday. Let’s just hope he has earned the lessons of last time out.

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Last year’s FA Cup third round had a rubbish ending

Then there’s the Martin Allen factor. As most of us can probably remember, he knows a thing or two about cup runs and upsets. He certainly knows a thing or two about motivation.

One of our most popular managers in modern times, he remains a favourite at Griffin Park and only this week has spoken to the team at Beesotted with his thoughts on the game as well as reflecting on events at Brentford back in the day.

Great work from Billy Grant and team in getting hold of the opposition manager just prior to a big cup tie for what really must be an exclusive and rare interview in such circumstances. You can find that one an hour in to the latest podcast, which is available here. Well, well worth a listen.

Tickets remain available on the day and start from  just £10 for adults (that’s less than the price of two pints in some pubs these days) or £5 for the kids.

Where else are you gong to go? Ikea? Westfield? The mother-in-law’s?

Surely it can only be Griffin Park? Surely it can only be a Brentford win?

Surely…..

See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Bees beat Birmingham but should supporters be worried about Scott’s buttocks?

2 Jan

Well what a difference a few days has made for Brentford. Having ended 2016 with the insipid draw against Norwich City, the Bees began 2017 with a 3-1 thumping of Birmingham City as Gianfranco Zola’s poor start in charge of the Blues less than justified their board’s decision to dispense with the services of play-off chasing Gary Rowett.

Brentford could even afford the luxury of missing a penalty as we ran riot in the second half. Perhaps Scott Hogan (who grabbed our first)  – was a shocked as anybody else that the Bees had finally been awarded a spot kick.

To read the rest of this article, season 2016/17 is now available for download on e-book in the retrospective: Welcome Home, King Jota (Brentford FC season review 2016/17)

Priced at just £1.99, all sales are being donated to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.

Likewise any sales from the previous titles – Celebrating like they’d won the FA Cup (2013/14), Tales from the football village (2014/15) and Ready. Steady. Go Again. (2015/16) – are also now going to the BFCCST.

Containing the least bad of the blogs from May 16 to May 17, you can pick it up, here. Its all for a great cause and,hey, you may even enjoy it…..

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Was it a pen? It made no difference

 

 

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Nick Bruzon

Is this an FA Cup plum tie or potato skin? Could ‘you know who’ return?

6 Dec

The FA cup third round draw has happened. With Brentford fans hoping for the likes of a Manchester United or a Chelsea, we have been drawn at home to a non-league team with the winners of the replay between Halifax Town and Eastleigh due to visit in January. The later, of course, now managed by Martin Allen who will no doubt be chomping at the bit for a return to the place where he is still considered a hero to many. Bees supporters will no doubt be chomping at the bit just for a chance to progress. Aside from our current form (filed in the ‘where are they now’ drawer), our previous efforts starting at this stage have all seen us at home and all seen us dumped out. Grimsby Town, Brighton and Walsall delivering the respective killer blows. Prior to that, we’re going back to the 30s and 40s,

The third round draw is one of football’s most exciting moments. That point where any permutation of random pairings is possible. Would it be a Premier League club at home? Might we embark on a journey to one of those famous stadia such as Old Trafford or Anfield? Do we face a road trip to a lower division team – the sort produced in the Preston v Arsenal, Leeds v Cambridge or Bolton v Crystal Palace ties?

Instead, we have none of that. We’re at home, which is nice from the comfort factor, but with a tie that is less a plum and more a potato skin of the highest order. On paper, the divisional gap should be far too great. Brentford will be odds on favourites to progress whilst the visitors, whoever they are, will have nothing to lose. Yet we all know that isn’t how football works.

With Dean Smith’s team on a less than favourable run (I swear if he says the word ‘blip’ once more I won’t be responsible for my actions) this could be a season defining game. It is now there on the calendar as a point where we can look, once more, to make some progress in this oldest of Cup competitions.

Will Dean repeat the mistakes he made last season in the horror show at home to his former club Walsall? If ever there was a game to win it was that one yet the Bees were outclassed by a team who were clearly up for it and with a point to prove. It was an afternoon that I never want to experience again, moreso when you chuck into the mix all that nonsense with FCM at half time. Random laps of honour rarely work (see also: the unveiling of the smudge shirt – and if ANYBODY even has a picture of that, please get in touch….) but this one was utter madness and the ultimate kick in the nuts for those loyal supporters braving the elements.

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The FA Cup dream was over after a rubbish afternoon last time out

And that is what worries me. Not the thought of a half time parade, but a repeat of last season’s cup complacency from Brentford (see also: Marinus v Oxford). Whoever we play will be desperate to make a name for themselves and, without being arrogant, we are now an established Championship side, despite our humbler origins. But that doesn’t give an automatic right to progress just because of the gap in the table.

Martin Allen has been there and done it. He masterminded our fourth round defeat of Premier League Sunderland ten years ago whilst was that close to taking the Bees to a quarter final at Manchester United. Southampton eventually, getting the better of us in a fifth round replay. If anybody knows how this works it will be him whilst nobody needs the media circus that his presence will bring.

Hopefully, Dean and the team will have rediscovered our form by then. We’ve got 6 games between now and that one, starting on Saturday with Burton Albion. Hopefully Dean will take it seriously and play a full-strength team with a desire to go out there and win. The cup has a wonderful place in our hearts at Griffin Park and what happened last season, in both competitions, was horrific, embarrassing, shameful etc

Whilst cup success has been an infrequent visitor,  when it comes along it is a wonderful thing. The place is buzzing and the mood, especially in the build up to that next tie, is a wonderful experience. Just look at the Chelsea tie (although it’s nice that we can no longer sing:  ‘Champions of Europe we’re coming for you’  in relation to our West London neighbours).

Saunders territory Chelsea

These are the sort of cup memories I want

Whatever people’s opinions about this one being any form of foregone conclusion, think again. Recent FA Cup ties agasint non-league opposition haven’t been as easy on paper as they were expected to be. 2013 saw the 5-0 defeat of Marcus Gayle and Staines Town in the first round but prior to that we’ve struggled. The 2011 defeat of Basingstoke was by the slenderest of margins – Sam Saunders with a free kick on 7(seven) minutes being the difference between the two teams and,sadly, coming before Kitman Bob and the BBgiveaway were a thing.

But it was that woeful second round loss at Barrow, in front of the TV cameras, back in November 2008 that really sticks out. A chance to square off agasint the big boys was instead flung aside as Andy Scott’s team were dumped out 2-1 and left with ten players on the pitch. Substitute goalkeeper Lloyd Anderson coming on for the red carded Ben Hamer.

Come January, let’s just hope the lessons from history, from last season and most importantly from current form have been learned. If we win, nobody outside TW8 and the losing team will give it any notice. Anything less and they’ll be the sort of headlines Dean Smith won’t want to wake up to.

Look, let’s be positive here. Whoever you play, the chance to go into the fourth round of the FA Cup is something that should produce a buzz of excitement. It should be a pressure free game where we can play of fun and the potential lure of an even bigger carrot as we progress. Whilst I’m aware of the pitfalls, I’m also cautiously optimistic. Surely there’s no way we’ll have a repeat of last season as long as Dean does it right?

See you in 2017. Now, where’s my tinfoil?

Sam Saunders doing his thing back in 2011

Nick Bruzon

Who is top of the local pile as our favourite 7(seven) returns?

8 Nov

A point for Brentford following the 1-1 draw at Blackburn Rovers was sufficient to keep us top of the West London Championship pile, above both Fulham and QPR. The former, in particular, being on the wrong end of a 5-2 home hammering c/o Jon Toral and Clayton Donaldson’s Birmingham City (stop sniggering at the back). And with another ‘nil points’ for Chelsea in the Premier League, the West London football demographic has a wonderful look to it as things stand.

But it’s the Championship, and Blackburn Rovers, where we need to give specific focus. Lee Carsley’s ‘men in black’ made it 13 points out of a possible eighteen with a result that now sees clear air between Brentford, Fulham and QPR.

Come for the style; stay for the point. Next stop, the C&A catalogue

Come for the style; stay for the point.

It was a game that saw the Bees take the lead via Lasse Vibe, despite the expected absence of Alan Judge and the enforced substitution, on a stretcher, of Marco Djuricin after just 23 minutes. John Swift, who only moments earlier had been singled out by BBC Billy Reeves as being ‘outmuscled’, played a delightful through ball that split the Blackburn defence like a Samurai dissecting a watermelon . With a sword. Of the Samurai variety.

Vibe got on the end of it to run at Jason Steele in the Rover’s goal. Steele, like Wigan Athletic’s Max Power, somebody with a name that puts me in mind of a sauve 60’s TV detective duo. Roll neck jumpers and adventure are never far away. Neither are goals, as Vibe made no mistake, chipping it past the ‘keeper for 1-0 Bees .

However exciting the moment, it was a lead that wasn’t to last long. Tom Lawrence with an effort that could be called speculative, at best, equalised for the home team.

It was a cross-cum-shot from well outside the box that seemed to creep through everybody, turning more from cross into shot before eventually becoming the quintessential example of a ‘stealth goal’. Neither Rovers nor Bees attempted to put a foot, or other body part, in the way. With David Button scrabbling for it, the scores were levelled up.

And that’s how things stayed. Being honest, we’d all have taken a point before hand although there was a genuine feeling of disappointment from several quarters. Personally, I was just pleased to see Harlee not having to tweet about ‘going again’ at full time and, instead, bigging up the return of Sam Saunders.

With 18 minutes game time now under the belt, not to mention looking resplendent in the new all black ‘third kit’, Sam’s presence can only give another attacking option to the Bees in the coming months. What an unfortunate time for international break to hit us again although, on the flip side, it may allow Marco Djuricin time to recover.

Still, I’m just buzzing to see Sam back in action. Having been with the Bees since 2009 after signing from Dagenham & Redbridge with Danny Foster and Ben Strevens (now at Eastleigh, for the record) he has long been a fan favourite – as much for his ability as anything else. Seeing him back in action will be a huge lift for the supporters, the players, the management and our free kick coach.

Mark Burridge provides croaks, sorry, erm.. comms

Elsewhere, Fulham weren’t the only team to ship five as Ipswich Town hit the same amount past hapless Rotherham United. Even Jonathan Douglas got in on the act with a 20 yard effort. As one terrace wag later suggested, “It was good to see him score with a stunner on the pitch, for once”.

QPR laboured to a 0-0 at home to Preston North End although, at least, had the novelty of something called a ‘clean sheet’. Indeed, Fulham have now shipped more goals than the Loftus Road outfit. The Cottager’s 28 has only been surpassed, if that is the word, by the aforementioned Millers (whose form seems even worse than that of Chelsea) on 33.

The BBC table shows clear air between us and our local rivals

The BBC table shows clear air between us and our local rivals

Still, that’s their problem. Brentford are back in pole position to be crowned Kings of West London Championship football. Could a fourth team be joining us next season? Or will Chelsea even end up getting leapfrogged?

It’s not that the Blues are too good to go down. More that there are simply worse teams than them in the vicinity of the dropzone. On current form the likes of Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Bournemouth will do a better job of ensuring top flight safety for Chelsea than Jose Mourinho could hope to do..

Still, Chelsea are up there. We aren’t. Yet.

But, as ever, it shows that anything is possible in football. To coin a phrase, you just need to Beelieive.

As it stands, in the West London Championship table

As it stands, in the West London Championship table

Nick Bruzon