Tag Archives: Luke Freeman

Just when it couldn’t get any more exciting……

22 Apr

What an afternoon. If Fulham last week was huge then this one was monumental. Magnificent Brentford beating QPR 2-1 in a terrific derby day victory gained against the toughest of opponents – referee Mr. Madley and his assistants. Yet let the inconsistency and poor decision making of the officials take nothing away from a Bees team who were simply immense. With a raucous Griffin Park crowd urging them on, Dean Smith’s team have now moved to within ONE point of the play offs as those around us all fell to draw or defeat. One. point. Even, say it quietly, Birmingham City did us a favour of sorts in beating Sheffield United 2-1. With Sunderland now formally relegated and the Blues getting a bit of clear air (for now) our trip to bottom three Barnsley on Saturday gains even more significance than it already had.

Sunday morning. Where to start? Having slept on it, I’m still thrilled by Dean’s team selection but also the way they played. There was only one team in this over the first half as the rampant Bees poured forward in wave after wave. Sergio Canos and, particularly, Romaine Sawyers were magnificent. Flo Jo displaying a turn of speed that left his opponent for dead on more than one occasion. The move that freed an electric Ollie Watkins for the penalty (more to come) was as spell binding a display of one-touch pass and move football as we could ever hope to see. Absolutely delicious.

To do that on the training ground would be one thing. But at full tilt, in a blood and thunder local derby, something completely different. It looked incredible live. To see that exchange of passes once more on video shows just how dazzling it was.

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Sergi and Romaine – a rare moment of ‘slow it down’

I’m so pleased for Romaine, in particular. He came in for obscene levels of criticism at the start of his Griffin Park career but what a way to win the haters around. What a way to keep your mental focus and prove the doubters wrong. To demonstrate just what you can do with a football. Do check out the Sky highlights package (up now on their site), until the full fat Mark Burridge version can be added after mid-day to see our man in action. I’ve still got a stupid smile on my face now just thinking about it. Hmm, perhaps better go and watch that just once more.

The first goal was only ever going to come to Brentford. QPR were left standing in the blocks as The Bees went for this one from the off. Wave after wave of attacks were somehow repelled until Sergi Canos fired home from close in on the quarter hour mark. The visitor’s inability to deal with a corner kick proving their downfall. The story of the afternoon, really, as they were second to everything for such long swathes of the game. Clearances missed, passes made directly into touch and seemingly simple balls miscontrolled. At one point Luke Freeman was left with his head in his hands by the Braemar Road touchlines after spectacularly failing to trap a high ball forward and gifting a throw on to Brentford.

One goal up and the Bees continued pushing. As half time approached we had the aforementioned moment of magnificence from Romaine. With Ollie Watkins clean through and a goal all but assured, goalkeeper Matt Ingram came charging off his line and ploughed through our man. Penalty !! But no red card. Instead, after a protracted period of medical emergency that ended with all players deemed fit enough to continue, referee Andrew Madley showed yellow. Ingram was allowed to stay on and promptly saved the spot kick. To compound the felony , the visitors went down the other end and with their first meaning fun attack, equalised. You couldn’t make it up. QPR’s Sylla leaving a black mark on our copy book.

So. The penalty. Should it have been a red? Absolutely in my eyes. There was no attempt to play the ball but a cynical assault on a player bearing down on goal with the net in his sights. The crowd were incensed and understandably so. Perhaps the injury period allowed time for the ref to draw the sting from the event. A sympathy yellow for a player who was clearly unable to carry on and, like Ollie Watkins, was subbed before the second period had begun.

Now it is true that the rules surrounding such an incident have been relaxed. Previously, had a penalty been awarded in such a circumstance then a red card would have been awarded by default. Likewise, followed by suspension. However, this ‘triple’ punishment was first reclassified back in 2016 following an 18 month review and, instead, the rules tweaked to say that only deliberate fouls warrant a red. The yellow would be shown if the referee deemed that it had been accident.

I’m sorry but this was no accident. There was no chance whatsoever of stopping that ball, such was the way the QPR defence had been split open like an overly ripe watermelon by Romaine’s tracer bullet of a pass. Watkins was home clear and running at full tilt. Ingram committed to come off his line and through the player. Even Ian Holloway would admit after the match that, “The penalty save was huge. Should he have been sent off? I think he should but he then stood up, probably concussed, and made a wonderful save”

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An accident? Hmmmm. Sky TV cameras capture the moment

Madley got this one wrong. Very wrong. But then that was the story of his afternoon. Those yellow cards he did show handed out at random. There was no consistency. No boundaries set and, most importantly, no protection of the players. The Bees in particular on the receiving end of several studs up and scything challenges that themselves could have been candidates for ‘straight red’. Alex Baptiste, I’m looking at you.

1-1 at half time and if ever there was a candidate for Dean’s oft repeated lines that ‘We deserved to win’ then here it was. Brentford had been rampant yet somehow scores were level. The second half began at a much more sedate pace (relatively) with players readjusting and substitutions having been made. The pattern of the game being broken up by an even more robust approach form the hoops. Eventually, class told. Florian Jozefzoon proving the telling factor as he made room in the box and fired home.

From there the lead was never going to be a surrendered. Whilst Rangers did try to turn up the pressure, I only recall one save of note from Daniel Bentley in the second half. The defence were otherwise rock solid, dealing with high balls and corners as though they were stealing candy from a baby. It felt tense at times. In reality, the players were the epitome of confidence.

A word also for the crowd. What an atmosphere. What passion. What noise. For all Griffin Park is small and old, having everybody so close to the pitch DOES make a huge difference. Moreso in a game such as this against our staunchest of rivals. With all the history, a visit from QPR is always the one we look for when the fixtures are announced. When the game comes around, it is always the one where the noise is the most voluminous (is that even a word?). Loud. The QPR players knew they were in a game. Jake Bidwell, especially. He looked a beaten man in the second half. A resigned shrug to the Braemar Road crowd before his eventual substitution.

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Home supporters jump up to express consternation to Mr Madley and Alex Baptiste – again.

What next? We’re eighth. One point off sixth placed Derby County with two games to go. The trip to Barnsley and then the visit from Hull City. Derby do have that game in hand but its a visit from a Cardiff City team locked in a desperate battle for the second ‘automatic’ place behind Fulham. Should the Bluebirds do us a huge favour on Tuesday night – something that will have the double whammy bonus of railroading The Cottagers – then Saturday becomes even bigger. If that were possible.

Even Middlesbrough in fifth can still be caught, such is the proximity of the teams from positions 5-9. This has all the hallmarks of 2014/15. We were reliant on favours, and our own results, then. We’re in the same position now. The difference being that under Mark Warburton we’d spent large chunks of the season in the play-off zone. WE slipped out after bit of a late wobble results wise before recomposing oursleves nad having results go our way on the final day. Thanks, Derby! To fall short then, having been in control, could have been all kinds of demoralising.

This time around, it is a perfectly timed run. A play-off push that, and please correct me if I’m wrong, has so far not seen us in the top six at any point this campaign. What a way it would be to finish the season – hitting the top six for the first time on game 46. Or, preferably, game 45 on Saturday. At Barnsley. Themselves up to their necks in a relegation scrap.

As a side note to that, there would be no irony lost on anyone if it turned out to be those Brentford players that Birmingham City didn’t sign who helped keep them safe, rather than the ones they did. No doubt Harlee Dean will be cheering on his old team mates although, perhaps, just wishing they were ten times better.

Let it never be said football doesn’t keep us intrigued.

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Even Harry was kept on the edge of his seat until the end of this one.

Nick Bruzon

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Injury blues, red cards, 3 points and the verdict on Football League Tonight

16 Aug

A Bees win by any scoreline will do me. At the end of a difficult week, it would be a shot in the arm for everyone.” Not my words but those of Brentford CEO Mark Devlin ahead of our trip to Bristol City. However, even he would have been doing well to predict the outcome of this one as the Bees surged to third place in the fledgling table. And after the game there was the latest attempt from Chanel 5 to restore some credibility to the terrestrial highlights with the latest episode of Football League Tonight.

A 4-2 scoreline only tells half the story of a game that saw City end with ten men after Luke Freeman was shown a straight red by referee Keith Stroud (who else??) for a boot to the head of Harlee Dean. Indeed, the hosts were lucky not to end on 9 after James Tarkowski suffered what Marinus described as a ‘badly broken nose’ following an elbow from City captain Aaron Wilbraham.

Tarks posted this post match selfie on Twitter

Tarks posted this post match selfie on Twitter

Goals from Alan Judge and Andre Gray sandwiched an o.g. from Derrick Williams. Philipp Hofmann rounded things off to complete a heavy win for Brentford who made it six goals, and unbeaten, from our opening two league games. As ever, should you want the full match report then I’d suggest the BBC, official site or Beesotted.

Moreso as I had to give this one a wide berth for family reasons, so wasn’t even able to follow on Beesplayer although social media suggest that might not have been such a bad thing in this instance.

Roxeth on Beesplayer

Who provided the summary? And was this tongue in cheek?

Bees fans would have been ecstatic to see Andre starting, despite the constant rumours linking him with a move from Griffin Park. Marinus made it quite clear after the game that we want to keep him although was unclear if that would happen, adding “there is a lot of money in England and sometimes money talks”.

It does now beg the question as to whether Matthew Benham will look to ‘cash in’ or make Andre an offer he can’t refuse (although presumably not Vito Corleone style). Just how much is a player who can find the back of the net so frequently worth?

Besides, would Brentford really want to lose another player after the awful run of form that saw Andreas Bjelland join the long term casualty list in midweek with a cruciate injury that has ruled him out for the season? And to that you can also add Jota who missed the Bristol City game with an ankle problem. It is an injury that Marinus subsequently told Beesplayer would see him “ out for three or four months.

Nobody needs any reminding of the Spanish midfielder’s ability and this may also go some way to explaining the shenanigans at the end of the Ipswich Town game, where he and Jonathan Douglas appeared to have had a falling out. It was one which culminated in the former Bee swinging an arm at Jota as the Bees celebrated our last minute draw.

Eagle eyed Beesplayer viewers saw Dougie's 'girly slap'

Eagle eyed Beesplayer viewers saw Dougie’s ‘girly shove’

Still, if this was more bad news for Marinus after our cup exit, I have to give him huge credit for the team he picked. After criticising our head coach for his post match reaction towards his young players on Tuesday (something I stand by), fair play for naming Jermaine Udumaga, Josh Clarke and Courtney Senior on the bench for a high pressure game.

The other thing to catch the attention yesterday was an uncanny parallel to the last time we played Bristol City, a 3-1 win at Griffin Park back in January 2014.

That was a game which also saw City gift the Bees an own goal, from Aden Flint. Whilst Derrick Williams was the provider this time around, that previous match also saw him struggle with what was described at the time as, “The worst free kick I’ve ever seen…. rather than deliver a killer deadball into the box from 25 yards, (he) simply bobbled the ball directly out of play for a goal kick to Brentford. It went closer to the corner flag than the goal and was an effort that made Miguel Llera seem like Gazza.”

And so to the real elephant in the room – Channel 5. Saturday night saw their latest attempt to replace Manish and crew with ‘Football League Tonight’. Their opening show of the season had, rightly, been met with a barrage of almost universal despair as swiveling league tables, awkward audience members, confused pundits and cringey ‘banter’ all nestled alongside the random sequence of match highlights to make a show that was messier than James Tarkowski’s nose.

Well, let’s give Channel 5 some credit. Whilst not, officially, acknowledging their previous failings, Kelly Cates strode in front of the cameras to announce that, “Over the next ninety minutes we’ll bring you all of the goals and the best of the action – in order.

And that’s what we got. The league ladders that looked as though they have been plonked on kebab shop skewers remained although at least they waited until the end of the Championship highlights to show them. And then, they had already been ‘rotated’.

The awkward looking audience members were another reminder of last week’s season opener – something I understand will be remaining (watch this space…) – whilst Jamie Cureton’s trousers were somewhat disconcerting. Actually, just the presence of Jamie Cureton is somewhat disconcerting although us Brentford fans have personal reasons on that score.

However, overall you have to say that, much like Marinus against Oxford , the team at Channel 5 have learnt from their mistakes.

Some things remained despite 'lessons learned' for Channel 5

Some things remained despite ‘lessons learned’ for Channel 5

Nick Bruzon