Tag Archives: Millwall

I want a squirrel and I want one now!!

18 Apr

Congratulations Norwich City. It is the only place to start a look at our own Championship fortunes this morning after their return to the Premier League was confirmed yesterday. Despite a home defeat, every favour possible was cashed in after Brentford were held 0-0 by Millwall, Watford lost at Luton and Swansea City left it late to salvage a draw with Wycombe. Not that these favours would have been needed in the longer term. The Canaries have been outstanding this season in terms of both ability and consistency. It has been apparent for months that ‘automatic’ would be theirs if they held the nerve. Instead, there has barely been a ruffled feather on that front. The goals and wins have kept on coming. The reward fully deserved.   

For Brentford, still all to play for but getting tougher every game. A frustrating afternoon no doubt and moreso given it followed that stonking 5-0 win at Preston last weekend. The same side selected yet, this time, the opposition infinitely harder to break down. Chances at a premium with the only one I can remember that from Marcus Forss early on in the second half. He did tremendously well to wriggle past two defenders on his way into the box before firing his shot the wrong side of the near post when squaring it would have been the easier option. In hindsight. One can’t blame him for seeing the goal open up after working the chance and our fortunes should have hung on more than this solitary opportunity. Instead, Millwall did what Millwall do. Indeed, they had their own chances to take an early lead before the game meandered to another stalemate.

The optimist in me could say it is now 7(seven) unbeaten. And it is. Another game where the pre kick-off presence of one-time albatross Clem in his Football Focus interview barely caused a murmur of consternation given his current form. His historical ‘jinx’ factor currently set to ‘positive’ and so, if anything, was a good sign going in to this one. On a side note, the interview with Thomas is well worth watching. Clem, his usual blend of gentle probing and charm personified. Thomas giving a much needed reality check on last season aswell as the challenge ahead for the remainder of this.

Clem and Thomas do their thing

It was a game that saw another point gained but, really, if there is any aspiration of automatic we need to be turning those into wins rather than becoming divisional draw specialists. Brentford are now fourth. One point behind Swansea City and eight behind Watford with a game in hand a visit form the Hornets still to come. Bournemouth on fire and tucked in behind us on level points. Their own victory at Carrow Road yesterday making it six in a row for the Cherries. Their own fine start to the campaign coming off the rails before bouncing back in some style. If anything, they are the danger team making that late surge although perhaps second place a touch too far out of the way.

For Brentford, all we can do is focus on winning then hope something happens in our favour. Tuesday night is the big one. No question. The evening of ‘must win’ games. A visit from Cardiff City as tough as any we could face. Oh, for a repeat of the Sergi Canos hat-trick against the Bluebirds back at Christmas. Of course, football doesn’t work like that and it is the first of our five remaining fixtures. Five high stakes games which could see this team become legends. From this point in the stress levels are only going to build. For everyone. How Thomas Frank manages that is going to be key to our fortunes. How he gets his team performing consistently a conundrum only he, and his staff, can unravel.

The same XI were world cup winners against Preston. Chance after chance created, and taken. Fast forward a week and it would have been easier to unlock a front door wearing oven gloves and a deep sea diver’s helmet than it was the Millwall defence. The doom and gloom in the air at full time totally disproportionate to a team that are still sitting fourth in the Championship. I’ve largely been off social media these last two weeks. Not even having the heart to update these pages. I love talking about the Bees but seeing all the negativity is just doing my head in. I’m  done with what, at times, feels little more than arrogant entitlement from a group of Veruca Salts throwing their worthless opinions around like spoiled brats hurling toys out of a pram. 

I. DEMAND. AUTOMATIC. NOWWWWW.

I’ve no real issue anyone putting the boot in if they can back it coherently. Make a case for what they feel is going wrong and, more importantly, what they might realistically change. Instead, its nothing but bullying of individuals and the same tired, lemming like phrases:

Bottle jobs.

Frank Out.

Canos / Marcondes / Jensen (delete or add as applicable) is sh*t.

Should have bought over January (I’d love to know who and how). 

Then there’s Tariqe Fosu being feted as the saviour of the team. He IS good, very good, no question. Yet one player does not win games on his own. One player is not the be all and end all of our chances. The responses to yesterday’s final result being announced on Twitter saw so many of the the usual suspects doing the usual thing. Forgetting, also, that a campaign lasts 46 games rather than something determined by the latest round of results.

Look at who is injured. Look at how we do things. Look at the pressure on everyone. On every club – something seen in yesterday’s results. Instead of whine, whine, whine how about actually backing your team? Save the post mortem for later, if it is really needed.

I’m pretty much done with Twitter and Facebook for the moment. Yesterday illustrated that just perfectly – shouldn’t have looked at the full time update but a few beers in the sunshine helped pique my curiosity later in the day. The return to The Griffin, seeing old friends and discussing football in person just wonderful. Another positive to be taken from the day. Sadly, the same can’t be said about social media. I want to enjoy my football, no matter how hard it is at times. How tense. How excruciating. Not have it dragged down by bitching. So I’m done. Let them shout into the void. I’ll go on there if it suits me and that’s it.

The replies to this. Only Wilf talking sense

We are on the threshold of greatness. Whilst only a moron would fail to recognise things are ten times harder for us than they might have been, getting out of the Championship is one of the toughest things possible. Twenty four teams fighting for three spots. The calibre of opposition and budgets of those who have parachuted down from the Prem illustrate it in some style. That’s before you get to those well established clubs. The pressure on everyone is immense. We saw that with the sequence of results that came in this weekend. It was a lost opportunity for Brentford but, then again, also for Watford and Swansea. Perhaps even Norwich City who would have been confirmed champions.

Instead, it is all eyes forward to Tuesday and that other must win game, for Norwich at home to Watford. To be fair, even a point hands them a title that is now only out of their grasp by virtue of mathematics and goal difference. I’d love them to do it if only for what it then means for Brentford, of course. As Thomas Frank said in his interview with Clem (and if you haven’t seen that as yet then you can, no should, take a look. There’s a link here) I think it is for Watford to lose but of course we need to do our bit.” 

Of course. The absolute priority has to be us getting our act together first, rediscovering our cutting edge and then seeing what else happens. Starting with Cardiff City on Tuesday at 6pm.

Nick Bruzon

Sergi does it in style and Thomas speaks out as Brentford open the doors.

6 Dec

What’s that noise? The sound of tunes being changed? What’s that smell? The stench of flagrant hypocrisy. The ongoing bullying, and there is no other word, of Sergi Canos by a group on social media replaced by praise of the highest order after a quite stunning performance and goal for Brentford against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday afternoon. Sorry to start here. We should be focussing on the brilliance of a first game at Lionel Road for our fans and the prospect of doing it all again on Wednesday night against Wayne Rooney’s Derby County. Themselves, visitors likely to get a warmer reception (at least pre kick off) following the bullsh*t at Millwall yesterday. Yet the internet trolls (see also: Frank Out) have been on it all season and it stinks. We talk about being fans. About mental health – hey, players are as human and fragile as the rest of us. How do YOU know what’s going on in their head? How do you genuinely think that tagging players and messaging them to drip more poison in any way helps? Of course we‘ve got a right to have an opinion. To criticise a team selection. To offer up our own game plan and strategy. What stinks is what has felt like an ongoing and lemming like bullying campaign from keyboard warriors who wouldn’t have the balls to say any of this to anyones face.

For me, being a fan is about showing support. About showing faith. About not launching into one player when he has, in your opinion, an off day. About not jumping on a bandwagon because its the ‘cool’ thing to do. About knowing that recovery from horrific injury is a long term process. About recognising that, actually, we are a team and that aside from being wrong ( for more than one reason) picking on one player is hardly going to help anyone. Call me a n*nce, happy clapper, whatever. Tell us ‘don’t defend him’. Personally, I don’t give a monkey. I make no apologies for supporting my team and our heroes. I’m not blinkered. We recognise poor performances but what we don’t do, at least in our house, is round on our team. Blame every perceived ‘failure’ at the door of one man.

Cripes, you could see what that meant to Sergi yesterday. The tears in his celebration. You could see Thomas Frank fuming, too. He came out fighting at full time to defend his own tactics after Jacob Davenport had rescued an 87th minute equaliser for a Blackburn team who had been playing with ten men for close to an hour. This, following a straight red for Darragh Lenihan had let Brentford back into the game on 36 minutes. His foul on Ivan Toney being deemed sufficient for the player to be invited to leave the field of play. Toney, the Championship’s leading scorer, made no mistake from the spot. Once again his balls of steel walk up culminating in a strike that was as accurate as it was powerful. 

Red seemed harsh but no mistake made from the spot

By this point we had already gone a goal down. Blackburn came out charging and, perhaps sensing the emotion of the day, brought the game to us. It worked. Despite Dalsgaard returning for Fosu to give a more orthodox full back option, our normally impenetrable defence lasted less than twenty minutes. Joe Rothwell waltzing through a series of pirouettes and half arsed challenges.  

Rather than anyone attempting to put in an actual tackle he was given the freedom of Lionel Road before firing home from the edge of the box. 1-0. Deserved. But it woke us from our slumbers. With Sergi puling strings in a front three made up of him, Ivan and Marcus Forss it only felt like a matter of time before we would be level. Sure enough, we were.

Yet if the build up and first half had got the juices flowing, it was nothing compared to the second. Roared on by Peter Gilham, the players came out and kicked on from where they’d left off. The inevitable goal coming from Sergi on the hour. Cutting down the left he stepped into the box, dodging defenders before unleashing an absolute piledriver into the top corner. The Blackburn ‘keeper left no chance. The tears flowing. And that was just from our family ! What a strike. What a way to answer those with nothing good to say. What. A.Goal !! It put one in mind of his effort at Reading away a few years back. It was that good. Bravo, Sergi. Bravo.

It should have been put to bed from there. Blackburn offered nothing. Making no attempt to break and set up to snuff out any further damage. The much touted Adam Armstrong was subbed off, leaving Ivan a clear run to go ahead in the top scorer charts. Yet, instead, we ‘did a Brentford’. D’oh ! 

87 minutes gone and another defensive malfunction allowed Jacob Davenport room to wriggle though and bury it. Urghh. And with that, there was to be no more. Five minutes of injury time, most of which were wasted by the visitors’ ‘keeper, saw us unable to get the fairytale winner. Instead, Brentford having to be content with making it nine unbeaten and still in the top six. Of picking up a ‘mere’ ten points from the last four games which included two midweek trips to Yorkshire and a local derby.

The other talking point was substitutions. We’ve been saying on these pages all season that changes will be made. Either in the starting XI or off the bench. Now offered the chance to make five switches per game, Thomas Frank has absolutely taken that opportunity. Yesterday was no different. Did it change the course of the game? Probably, although we still had enough to wrap up the win and by his own admission we should have gone for more at 2-1. Thomas reflecting at full time that we should have made more forward passes (a real life case of ‘Push up, Brentford’, perhaps?) ”After the 2-1 goal of course we need to win because they didn’t want to come forward so it was only about us making a mistake and unfortunately that happened”.

That’s football. As a fan, ‘disappointing’ didn’t even begin to cut it. Talk about seeing the wind taken form our sails. Ecstasy replaced by agony. Yet as we always say, no team has a divine right to win every game. Sometimes we cruise home by a mile. At others we hang on and fall over the line. Cripes, we’re still up there fighting and just four points off the top of the table. Hardly a case of ‘Frank Out’.

Should we have won? Yes. Did we deserve to? No. Each team scored two goals. That’s how football works. Chances count for naff all. Did the subs affect the team balance? Probably. But that’s the nature of this season which is a marathon crammed into a sprint period. We’ve made changes. We have our squad intact for Derby County on Wednesday. Others are going to do the same. Managers have no choice. On that, Thomas was quite clear. Unequivocally so.

If you asked me if I wanted to make five substitutions if it was the World Cup final tonight then I wouldn’t, probably not…but we have 30 more World Cup finals to play in the most compact programme ever and if people don’t understand that we can’t play every single player for 90 minutes in 46 games then they need to start studying a little bit about science and fatigue, mental freshness and how you use that. So, if you ask me if I would do it again? 

ONE.. HUNDRED.. PERCENT.

Do I like it as a supporter? Well, its not what I’m used to that’s for sure. But we’ve also got a great squad. Blame the defence for having a moment if you must but why not lambast the attackers for failing to put this one to bed? Tarique Fosu came on for Sergi. Mbeumo for Forss. These are great players and very much the heroes of our Twitter crew. Yet they couldn’t wrap it up. That’s not to knock either player btw. We were up against a resolute Blackburn side who hung in, absorbed damage and caught us on the break. It finished 2-2. That’s football. The important question now being how we can bounce back against Wayne Rooney’s Derby County in midweek.

I’ve got a feeling that one’s going to be and absolute cracker. Being part of the Lionel Road crowd was a huge honour.  Our new home is everything it has been bigged up to be and more. Great sightlines, close to the pitch and a truly fantastic atmosphere. Griffin Park at night, under floodlights, was always special. Imagine that on Wednesday? Two thousand made some noise in the dusk. It’s going to be even louder when Derby visit.

It won’t be easy, either. They finally climbed off the bottom of the table after winning 1-0 at Millwall in a game ruined before kick off by the moronic booing of the players supporting racial equality. Something as awful as the club’s complete silence on the matter. If only their fans could have adopted the same tone. There aren’t sufficient words. Pathetic justification of not bringing politics into football no defence. This is not support of  what many feel is some quasi-marxist movement. This is support of players. Of showing we feel there is no room for racial injustice or discrimination. And if you think that’s wrong then f*ck off. Football has come so far, in places, except it would seem at the den.

So Derby County were riled. They got their win in a game where the closest the the home team’s match report would get was to note that,  “Roared on by 2,000 fans – and what a great sight it was – the game got underway “. Hmmm. What a way to welcome fans back in. What a way to represent yourselves. Perhaps the only saving grace here being that with only two thousand present it will be easier for any identification to take place. But I doubt that’ll happen.

Instead, Wayne Rooney and his Rams will find things much more welcoming at Lionel Road on Wednesday. At least, before kick off. Once that whistle blows, give them hell. I’d love to be a part of it once more. For those getting their turn next up, ENJOY.  

Until then, perhaps one more time from Sergi….

What an afternoon it was. Welcome to the future. Welcome home.

Well played, Sergi.

Nick Bruzon

Time to start putting the boot in. Or, rather, on.

27 Sep

Brentford are up to 9th in the fledgling table and unbeaten in all competitions since the season opener at Birmingham City. The latest result, a 1-1 draw at Millwall in a game that will be remembered as much for the return of Said Benrahma and the excessive wind coming down the I-follow line. That, less a comment on Marcus and Mark’s personal hygiene and more a reflection of the howling gusts rattling around the Harchester United stadium. Very much a case of Cold Blow Lane despite the Lions having long moved home. Certainly it wasn’t one to live long in the memory but it’s another point on the board and another chance for this team to reacquaint themselves with playing together in these oddest of circumstances. Besides, thing could be worse. Looks at Nottingham Forest. How IS that close (closed ?) season investment working out? 

What is there to say after this one? Both teams pressed. Both pushed. Both scored. Both could have won it. We don’t do full fat match reports on these pages as the regular reader will be aware (you can get the ‘official’ view here if you want). That’s no bad thing. It wasn’t that we put in a bad performance but, like Birmingham City away, the trip to Millwall is generally a game of few goals (that one where Danny Shittu gave us the o.g. winner aside). You can now add Saturday to the list and, being honest, after conceding an early goal I’m more than happy we were even able to pull it back rather than succumb to yet another 1-0 defeat. 

‘Official’ capture the equaliser in their match report – link above

Moreso, given the manner in which it was given away. Pontus somehow seeing a boot go flying high in to the sky as he tracked Mason Bennett. The Swedish international unable to keep pace, or balance, with uneven footing and the ball was delivered in Jed Wallace who made no mistake. You wouldn’t with that much space.

The defending from Brentford absolute schoolboy for the opener, regardless of the Swede’s footwear faux-pas. Surely one for Thomas to review on the whiteboard when we all reconvene at Jersey Road. 

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Pontus’ shoelace.

It was a defence that had already seen Rico Henry replaced just three minutes in. Dominic Thompson coming off the bench to cover our unsung hero. Something clearly not right – whether picked up in the warm up or earlier. Regardless, it was an opening five minutes you’d happily forget about. Many following on I-player not even watching as yet. Several reboots were needed to update the somewhat random commentary (again no reflection on Mark of Marcus) as it switched between Millwall’s effort and our own. The lack of pictures also somewhat disconcerting. Once again, a simple solution (once you realised) that Safari and the EFL app do not make happy bedfellows. Chrome all the way. After last week’s ‘credit card’ farce, a frustrating start to what should have been a super simple process. 

Regardless, we had it all to do now. And that was just being able to watch the game. But with the challenge of grappling with technology overcome it was onwards and upwards. Mark Burridge was coming loud and clear, the pictures were sharp and Brentford were pushing. Surely the Millwall goal would soon be breached. Sure enough, with little more than 20 minutes on the click we were level. Ivan Toney hauled down in the box as he waited for a Dalsgaard cross to plop onto his head.

But if the opportunity to score his first league goal was denied, he made no mistake from the spot. Ivan’s approach to the ball was more amble than run up. Not even the Brentford yoof element are this casual (that Stone Island won’t wear itself)  but it made no difference to the result. The ball calmly stroked into the bottom corner, as close to the post as was possible. The precision of the shot, over power, giving Bialkowski in the Millwall goal no chance. 

1-1. Over an hour to go. Surely one of the teams would kick on? It didn’t happen. Both had chances and, being honest, it was probably the hosts who had the better of them. Mahlon Romeo hitting a first half thunderbolt against the post from the corner of the box with the diving Luke Daniels beaten and then Tom Bradshaw offered the freedom of the box before steering wide in the second. For the Bees, a lot of threat but no real cast iron chance. Benrahma made his way on for the final quarter hour and played one delightful ball towards Toney but, alas, it was cleared.

It’s was interesting that Thomas used Sergi Canos to make way for the return of the mercurial Algerian. Even Mrs Bruzon was amongst those questioning why it hadn’t been Emiliano as the one pulled off. Still, that’s why Thomas is the head coach – he’s the one paid to read the game and make the tough calls.

We’ve picked up another point and, as ever, all the conjecture in the world and ‘if onlys’ don’t make a difference to the table at full time. Millwall probably feel they should have had all three points. Brentford will be happy with one but on another day we might have taken the lot. 

Still, I’m happy to be picking up the points. The trips to St.Andrews or The Den are never pleasant experiences. We’ve got them out the way early and are climbing the table. Look at the bottom for some context.

Wayne Rooney’s Derby County ™, Nottingham Forest and Wycombe Wanderers only have one goal and nil points between them after their opening three. Sheffield Wednesday’s start of -12pts the only thing keeping that trio off the bottom and even then something being reeled in at a rate of knots by the Owls.

Ten games in is that real marker of form. Of who will be the teams to beat and who are the division whipping boys. Certainly, I’d had Forest in the former category at the start of the campaign. These are still very early days but it’ll be interesting to see how they bed in or whether the ever sartorial Sabri Lamouchi will fall out of fashion.

Next up is the visit of Fulham L in the League Cup. A somewhat unusual Thursday afternoon, 5.30pm kick off on Sky Sports. As a consequence, the Championship game with Preston has been shunted back to Sunday 3pm.

I’d only expect a raft of changes for the visit of the Cottagers. This 100mph start to the fixture list will be killing players and perhaps the ever present Rico Henry was the first victim of this. Is it time to wrap up Sergi in the cotton wool and cup-tie Said ?

Whoever Thomas starts with, my hope for that one is the pundits and commentary team don’t go into pay-off ‘verload’ . Yes. We know. It happened. Move along now. It’s all abut the future. History belongs in the past. So to speak. 

See you there, Thursday. Well not Lionel Road but on the couch. Here’s to the chance of reve… D’oh !

Nick Bruzon

Freeze. Reserve. Refund. A slogan I can get behind.

25 Sep

Well that was pretty special news for Brentford fans yesterday. Perhaps, in no small part, thanks to Ollie Watkins and that huge transfer fee paid by Aston Villa (‘Ow much?). In the midst of another season that looks as though it will be decimated by Corona Virus the club have announced their own series of measures to help season ticket holders. This, after the most recent announcements from Biros that fans will not be allowed back into grounds for the foreseeable. Drawn up with what I gather is significant input from BIAS, these are designed to help supporters retain their seats at Lionel Road (rolling them over to season 2021-22), continue to watch games on I-follow or receive some/all their money if that’s the need in these toughest of times. Elsewhere, we’ve got a trip to Millwall on Saturday afternoon.

The first of the three options available

First up though has to be Season Ticket news. Emails were sent yesterday confirming the range of offers available to supporters who have already bought theirs for the current campaign. Each designed to help, depending on individual circumstance. Freeze. Reserve. Refund. Those, the options laid out traffic light style.

Full details are on the club site ( you can read those here) and summarised on the handy graphics. Certainly, a useful snapshot for yours truly alongside reading the voluminous mail that dropped yesterday outlining the choices in detail.  In short: 

Freeze (green) – your seat rolls over, you pay nothing next season and get i-follow amongst other benefits ( plus first dibs on going back this season, should it happen…… )

Reserve: (amber) – receive 75% refund, retain your seat for next season with that residual cash being used as a deposit. Then buy it back although be aware price is TBC. The cost of seats can go up aswell as down.

option 2

Refund (red) – get all your money back but your seat then becomes available for general purchase. This doesn’t preclude you from access should it somehow happen this season although it will be behind the other two categories. 

This is great news for fans and great news all round. Measures designed to suit everyone. Do we need to think of Adam Hobbs as some footballing Rishi Sunak (or should that be Dominic Cummings?). Matthew Benham as the PM – albeit in control of the situation. 

Personally, I’ll be going for green. I want to watch the action. I’ll be going next season regardless. The money has been spent already and whilst it would be very handy to get it in the short term, it would only be going straight back to the club. However, that’s us . 

The final choice

Fully appreciate people’s situations have changed radically over the last six months. As have their priorities. As such, the option to get money back but still keep the seat that you have held as far back as January (cripes, remember those visits to the reservation centre?) is a very welcome one.

Hopefully there won’t be any / too many forced to surrender their seats . Given the dire financial states expected by many clubs, with some already going to the wall, it really is as good as we could have hoped for. Well done everyone.  Keep up the good work and keep up the reminders. I’m half expecting actor Mark Strong to pop up on the radio soon, plugging this one in a government information style. 

Hands. Face. Space. Freeze. Reserve. Refund.

Next up, Millwall away. Joy. The Lions have picked up four points from their opening games whilst this is never an easy place to go to. As much because we have to listen to ‘that’ song. Urghh. Goal music is bad enough at the best of times, let alone with that gumph about jellied eels being rubbed in your ears. The flip sides to all of this are the chance to visit the set of TV’s Dream Team (who doesn’t love a bit of Harchester United?), the beer mile pub crawl en-route and a strong away following. 

Last season was no different, although for me the comeback from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Griffin Park was about as exciting a moment as we experienced all season. Goals in 84,88 and 94 turning it from awful to awesome. Ollie Watkins’ late, late winner sealing the mother of all comebacks as the stadium erupted and gave one of the first inklings that this team may be something really special. We won’t talk about the away game in quite such endearing terms but, at the least, Saturday can’t be any more frustrating. Can it?

View from The Braemar – What a finish to the home game with Millwall

Personally, I think we’re well set. The Bees have got better and better since the opening day reverse at Birmingham City. Not a typo. Those called up to face West Brom in the league cup more than did their job and now Thomas Frank has a selection headache of the best sort. Raya or Daniels? Forss or Toney? What about Tarique Fosu? Could there be a space for Saman Ghoddos or will he have to wait on the bench?  Ahh – decisions, decisions. Who’d be a head coach? Get it wrong and you are hung out to dry by supporters. Get it right and, well, probably the same from some.

However it goes, we’ll be on our couches tomorrow. The I-follow option is available at £10 for a match pass and is sure to be popular. What else are you going to do? Shopping? IKEA? DIY?

Finally, Friday night video show The Run In returns with its new title this evening. Now known as The Warm Up, Stu Wakeford and Marcus Gayle are back with News. Views. Previews (where’s Mark Strong when you need him?) . You can catch it from 6pm and find out more about tonight’s show (along with a chance to see last week’s ) here.

Enjoy.

More of this would be incredible

Nick Bruzon

A good news/bad news kind of start to the day.

23 Sep

Another win for Brentford. Another game unbeaten. Through to the fourth round of the league cup at the expense of a West Bromwich Albion side who may have seen this one as a chance to restore some morale. Instead, the game ended two apiece – three of the goals coming from spot kicks and Marcondes with a sublime overhead kick – before we went through 5-4 in the penalty shootout. The reward for this being a visit from either Fulham or Sheffield Wednesday in next week’s fourth round. That, and the knowledge we’ve already defeated more Premier League sides than all three of those that made the jump up from the Championship last season. Leeds United the only one of those to taste any success (and that in the game of haemorrhaging defences against the hapless Cottagers). What a shame there was nobody allowed in to see it.

Sergi amongst those to feel the Forss

The expected changes to both teams were made. For Brentford it saw a return to goal of David Raya and a start for Marcus Forss, amongst others. Rico Henry, Emiliano and the sublime Sergi Canos also getting another runout from the off (let’s hope they can manage to avoid over exertion) after doing the business against Huddersfield on Saturday. With a strong bench that was well utilised the Bees were as strong as one could have expected. Certainly given the constant procession of midweek games clubs have had no choice but to play given the way the previous campaign was extended. It still makes no sense to even be playing the competition this year but, hey-ho, player burnout is a secondary consideration I suppose.

And if we are playing it, how nice to see Brentford doing so to the best of their available ability. West Brom barely got a look in during the opening half. Canos flashing one just wide and Emiliano hitting the post from distance. Fosu impressing throughout. The hosts with the one moment of danger just before half-time with a free kick awarded on the periphery of Saunders territory. It came to nothing.

Yet if the first half had seen everything but a goal, it all changed after the tea. The hosts took the lead form the spot. Dominic Thompson adjudged to have fouled Hal Robson-Kanu. The Baggies man picking himself up to give his side the lead. It was a lead that lasted less than two minutes and one which was cancelled out in fine style. Apparently.

We say ‘apparently’. Yours truly missed out after “Doing a JJ”. The net rippling off the back of Marcondes’ quite wonderful bicycle kick as this numpty had gone for a ‘splash and dash’ . Regular readers may be aware how back in the days we were allowed into grounds, it was a feat that the Giant Scot with the Pea sized bladder used to pull off with abandon from the Ealing Road terrace (missing goals by having to go for a wee, rather than bicycle kicks). Yet after suffering the same fate for our second on Saturday , has the baton been passed? Cripes. I hope not. 

If for no other reason that having fallen behind again to another Robson-Kanu spot-kick (not seen a worse ‘pen’ decision since Pontus elected for his infamous biro) we were then given our own chance to level things up.

‘That’ BIC

Daddy”, said H (I would imagine, if his teacher is reading) “wee. Go again”. One had to be impressed by the wordplay, if not the ignominy of being banished to the bathroom. I guess if you have to go, you have to go. Sure enough, it worked. Nothing to do with Marcus Forss at all. Like the lucky shirt, magic pants and not shaving, is this a new ‘omen’ to top the lot? Urghh.

Anyway, 2-2 it stayed. David Raya pulling off a flying save relatively late on to preserve the scoreline and justify his place back in the team after injury. The Twitter hate mob seemed out for our captain for the night. Makes a change from the quite bizarre Ivan/Sergi angst being seen in certain social-media quarters. Go figure. Nothing like getting on the team’s back based on nothing more than unfounded rumour. Anyway, if you’re one of those me banging on won’t change it. And if you aren’t, then presumably its nothing more than weird. Cripes. Considering some of the dross we’ve had over the years, the current squad is light years ahead.

Something proven from the full time penalties. Goal followed goal followed goal. Ivan Toney getting things off to a fine start for a Brentford team kicking second. The pressure of following the lead always adding an extra layer of pressure but, If it was there, it didn’t show. Josh Dasilva made it 2-2 with his own ‘Jonny Wilkinson’ style run up. Fosu and Forss were there for three and four. Then, David Raya did his thing. Diangana denied and the stage set. Up stepped Christian Nørgaard and there was no mistake made. West Bromwich Albion denied. The Bees through. A visit from another of last season’s Championship rivals next on the agenda.

We find out tonight whether that will be Fulham or The Owls. Brentford looking forward rather than over their shoulders at what might have been. At what happened last campaign. When pushed on whether this win was seen as revenge, Thomas Frank noted : “That’s the past, this is the future”.

With it, comes a chance to set our own personal best in this tournament. We’ve never reached the fifth round before. That game at Birmingham City being as close as it has got in recent years. Now, we’re all set for another crack.

Before that though, there’s a chance to rest tired limbs over the next few days. Saturday sees the trip across London to face Millwall. I’d love to be going – as much for the pre-match pub crawl as the actual game. Again, an action now denied and one with no end in sight. The latest announcements from the government curtailing any experiments with letting spectators back and meaning it looks like March, at the earliest, before we can even consider attending a game. ‘For the greater good’ and all that but let’s not pretend this isn’t soul destroying. That this isn’t devastating for so many, if not all, clubs on the financial front. That football without fans present and watching on I-follow is an ersatz replacement for the real thing.

I don’t really want to end on a downer. The prospect of Preston had been dangled like a carrot. That’s now been snatched away and for the foreseeable too. Waking up and listening to the radio this morning makes for hard news. We want in. We want normal. We just want to go and watch a game of football.  We aren’t allowed. For crying out loud, wash your hands and wear a mask. Like it or not. Believe it or not. Let’s all just do this . Please. I want to watch football. Not listen to Boris giving the impression of a man making it up as he goes along.

The latest rules invoking a virus busting cut-off at 10pm mean anyone wanting to watch the Arsenal – Liverpool game down the pub on Monday night will be kicked out with the game approaching 85 minutes gone. Small consolation, I suppose. And nothing Arsenal won’t have experienced before with fans streaming out early.

Before 22.00, everything is just fine. Be warned, horror awaits straight after.

Instead, let’s end with the thought of another fine performance. Of our MOTM Marcus Forss scoring. Again. With thoughts of Brentford continuing our winning form. Of taking consolation that, had we gone up last season, we’d have missed out on being physically present for that. 

Here’s to Millwall on Saturday. See you on I-follow.

Nick Bruzon 

Mmm. Booom. Oh, what a win.

20 Sep

And with that Brentford have the first points on the board, the first league win at Lionel Road and remain unbeaten at our new home. Huddersfield Town the latest to be put to the sword. In a week that saw us win 2-0 at Southampton in the energy drink League Cup, the Bees followed it up with a 3-0 Championship defeat of the Terriers. With David Raya now recovered, although missing out to Luke Daniels, it was a victory that was left late although on the balance of chances created one that always felt as though it was coming. The first half in particular saw Ivan Toney come very close on a number of occasions. Whilst the goal didn’t come this time, the link up play and positional awareness is already sparking hope that when it does, the floodgates will open.

‘Official’ shared this one at full time on Twitter

Brentford looked comfortable throughout. The odd moment of danger aside, Huddersfield weren’t at the races. We should have gone in ahead although were happy to stay level in terms of playing staff. Christian Nørgaard very much sitting in the last chance saloon after a yellow and a very stern talking to for a subsequent challenge.

The goals were brilliant. All three of them. Thomas Frank would talk about his BMW losing two wheels but he has replaced it with a sheet of MDF. Mbeumo, Dasilva and Forss providing the building blocks on which the points were earned. 

JoshDasilva, got the first, just inside the hour. A shot from the edge of the box (does he do anything else) beating Ben Hamer after great work from Uncle Justins’ favourite player, Rico Henry, down the left. The man of the match had a quite wonderful afternoon (Josh, not Justin) and he set the Bees on their way.

The second and third were left late. Marcus Forss finishing off a great move involving Mbeumo, Batpiste and Nørgaard  at various points to double the lead with a cool finish. Or should that be cool Finnish? It was due reward for the man who set League One alight on loan at AFC Wimbledon last season as well as having already impressed in the red and white. What another great option to have available for Thomas Frank and what a way to keep Ivan on his toes.

The icing on the cake was Mbeumo doing what he does best . Curling one in to the top corner from distance. ‘Official’ have it down as 16 yards. It felt more. It looked amazing. It rounded off a wonderful afternoon. Brentford back to wining ways and moving up the nascent table. We could have beaten Birmingham. With had the opportunities created gone in. This time around, there was no mistake. The Bees never really under pressure. 

Indeed, the biggest danger was probably more to the laptop screen than the Brentford  defence. Specifically, in attempting to run the gauntlet of the log in process for i-follow. A task made infinitely harder by the fact that despite being given vouchers to watch the game, they could only be redeemed by also adding your credit card detail and then paying £0.00. Twenty minutes to work that out. Twenty. Blinkin’ . Minutes. It’s obvious, when you think about it. Credit card details are required to redeem a free token. Why didn’t it say it anywhere!!! Seems I wasn’t alone, either, although the issue eventually resolved through whatsapp and Twitter trouble showing. 

The other thing really starting to irk was the “Isn’t Lionel Road amazing” brigade on social media. Yes. We know. It looks fantastic. We have eyes. The constant reminders and photos from everyone lucky enough to be there – whether in an official or journalistic capacity (and there are some spurious feeling ones) are now at the point of being OTT, unnecessary and unwelcome. Reign it in a bit, please. Everyone. 

The fans are desperate to get in. We all know why we can’t. We’re all being tremendously accepting of the bigger picture situation. We gave up our money last season. We’ll likely do the same this time around. There’s no need to continue what comes across as, being honest, gloating. I’m sure its not deliberate  – and listening to Cliff Crown with Mark Burridge at half time we know the club want the fans back  – but the constant photos and reminders only serve to heighten the fact that we are all missing out.

That said, the interview with our Chairman did produce an unintentional (I hope) gem from our commentator par-excellence. His observation that, ”Having to sanitise the mic after Cliff Crown has touched it” something that at any other time would probably have earned hi his marching orders.

Nobody means anything malicious, I am sure. I’d love to be back watching live football. I’m not. I want to be there with my fellow supporters. Perhaps I’m being over sensitive but, equally, perhaps a bit of added awareness wouldn’t go amiss either. Fair play to Marcus Bean, filling the pundit roles on I-follow, for acknowledging this golden ticket he’d won and stating it so eloquently.    

All that will come, I am sure. For now let’s enjoy the team we have and the result. West Bromwich Albion await in the third round of the league cup on Tuesday night and then we’ve got the trip to Millwall. Or, rather, our press corps do. Enjoy that one. Be just our luck we get the win with no fans there. I’d take that !!! 

We’ll be missing the traditional Millwall welcome next week

Nick Bruzon

Keep your hands and noses clean – look who’s in charge….

7 Mar

The promotion push continues. With just ten games to go in the Championship campaign, fifth placed Brentford are all set to host Sheffield Wednesday at Griffin Park this afternoon. Whilst the eleven point gap to ‘automatic’ may be starting to look significant, we’ve already reeled in Leeds United once this season. Any hope of doing the same needs to begin today although primary focus needs to be on strengthening our current top six placing. To that end, we were given a small boost last night as Nottingham Forest were obliterated at home by Millwall. Still, the good news is that our man in the middle is Keith Stroud.

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Keith Stroud – NO card.

The big on-pitch question today is whether Pontus Jansson may be ready to make a long-overdue return. We spoke last time out about his importance and his presence but the BBC match preview really highlights this from a statistical perspective. Brentford have won just twice since his last appearance, that against QPR in early January. Indeed, we’ve only tasted victory in two of the eleven games he’s missed all season compared to fourteen out of twenty-five when he has appeared.

One does need to counter this with the fact that this recent ‘run’ has only seen us defeated twice in the league – Nottingham Forest and Luton (a). It has been a period of eminently loseable fixtures such as Cardiff City and Birmingham away ; Leeds United and Middlesbrough at home. Yet we’ve still survived those unscathed and it could be argued the had we hung on to the 1-0 lead against the Elland Road outfit, Brentford may well be looking down on more than just the 19 teams currently below us.

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View from the Braemar – I’d love to see Pontus back

That’s football. No point dwelling on ifs, buts and maybes. Instead, time to focus on Sheffield Wednesday. Of course I’d love Pontus in the team but we should still have enough in the starting XI to give anybody a run. Leading the charge will be Ollie Watkins who was, of course, named EFL Player of the Year at the London Football awards this week. Alongside him fellow nominees Said Benrahma and Bryan Mbeumo. With Thomas Frank beating the likes Roy Hodgson and Frank Lampard for the managerial honour, one has to think that morale will be high in the camp.

For the visitors, they are currently the quintessential example of a mid-table side. On paper. Sitting 12th, Wednesday are 10 points off relegation and 8 off the play-offs. A late charge for the play-offs would seem even more optimistic than our own efforts to hit the top two slots. Aside from their own recent form, which has only seen 1 victory and 4 defeats in the last 8 league games, the sheer weight of numbers above them makes that more improbable. Millwall being the latest teams to knock on the door following their own 3-0 heroics at Nottingham Forest last night. Added to this are injuries suffered by The Owls in the FA Cup defeat by Manchester City midweek. Kieran Lee is  almost certainly out whilst defender Julian Borner went off at half-time. It’s just a shame that stamina levels weren’t tested further by a period of extra time and penalties. 

That’s not to say that today is going to be easier than recent challenges. It’s anything but. Yet at the same time I’ve got the feeling in my heart that we will win this. Whether Pontus plays or not. But for the referee we could have come away from Cardiff City with a lot more last weekend as Brentford kept going until the very end.

So let’s all breath a sigh of relief that Keith Stroud is in charge today. Could today see his traditional flourish of a red card? Will there be random decision making? Or might we have the more level-headed Keith of recent outings? Whatever happens, he can’t do a more frustrating job than Simon Hooper. 

Do get there early for his always entertaining warm up routine, too. Very much a modern day Burridge (John, of Crystal Palace goalkeeping fame, rather than Mark, of commentary and greyhounds).

Keith Stroud montage

Keith Stroud – has form

The other point of note about today is the additional health and safety precautions in place given the current concerns around Covid-19. You can read the full statement on the club website although the main impact for supporters will be a cessation of our usual close contact with the players whilst the traditional prematch hand shake will stop for now. The full gamut of measures and what to expect are noted here although I’d also note that we should probably be glad football is even going ahead. In Italy, all sporting fixtures are now being played behind closed doors whilst the top flights clubs have already started to mention they expect similar may follow.

For now, keep those hands clean and let’s see what happens down the line. Until then, heres to Sheffield. Let’s do this.

See you there.

Nick Bruzon 

100% VAR gets it right. 100%. But who will blink first?

13 Feb

With the midweek fixtures all played out, Brentford find themselves two points off ‘automatic’ and Leeds United still in second place. Just. For a while, it looked as though things may get even better with West Bromwich Albion behind and Fulham crying out for VAR (looked onside to me !) at Millwall. In the end, the Baggies got their win although the Cottagers ended things level. With Preston taking sixth and Bristol City warming up for Saturday’s trip to Elland Road after edging past Wayne Rooney by the odd goal in five, things remain as unclear and open as ever. Only West Brom starting to make a bit of clear air but, as we’ve seen all season, that can change in a heartbeat. Our own game at Birmingham City this weekend couldn’t be any bigger.

Before we go any further, I’ll likely mention Birmingham City a few times in the next couple of days. We’re due to play them  – why wouldn’t anyone do so in that situation? So to try, but no doubt fail, and avoid the usual nonsense about this tinpot team’s apparent obsession with their enormous club, the Griffin Park perspective on why I’ve absolutely relished our teams crossing paths in the Championship is noted further below. Why such pleasure is taken every time Brentford finish above Blues – which has been every season since our return to this level.

Sure… the financial misconduct, the managerial mayhem, that ten times better nonsense or the triple transfer swoop were factors – the sort of nonsense that makes football great in retrospect –  but nothing compared to what had gone before.

Anyway, getting back to the present, one almost had to feel sorry for Fulham last night. Almost. The brief window of opportunity I was afforded to watch that game before Kirsty and Phil started doing battle over Woodford Green property renovation (ah, the Wednesday night price of a green card for the trip to St. Andrews on Saturday is a huge one) saw two early goals and a huge controversy. Aleksander Miitrovic continuing to trade metaphorical punches with Ollie Watkins at the top of the Championship leading goalscorer charts before the Lions equalised with a goal so far offside even I spotted it first time out. Fulham were rightly incensed but, as we struggled to contain the laughs on our couch, the officials allowed it stand. 

100% VAR gets it right. 100%. But there was no VAR. No second chance. No reprieve and things were level. Millwall even had the temerity to miss a penalty and that’s how things stayed. Apparently. What would I know? The things you do for the long term footballing pleasure.  With that result, Fulham go level on points with Leeds United whilst Brentford remain two points off the pair of them. The Cottagers may aswell chalk up the three points now with a home game against Barnsley this weekend but Leeds – Bristol City promises to be another massive one. 

The Robins are just outside the play off zone. Only goal difference keeping them away from a top six that once again plays host to Preston. It really is a case of seeing who can hold their nerve. Who blinks first. Whatever else, something has to give with West Brom hosting Nottingham Forest. I’m beyond trying to figure out who I want to win in these games though. Let’s concentrate on ourselves and hope those favours continue to come.

Screenshot 2020-02-13 at 05.24.24

As it stands…

That said, we are now at the point of experiencing that additional factor of a promotion shootout. That moment where the run-in starts and every result of every club around us seems critical. Phones are refreshed mid-game as goals conceded and points dropped here, there and everywhere are celebrated with abandon. Where even a win for the Loftus Road team is to be celebrated if it comes against one of the teams in close proximity. Where shifts in the table are tracked, even ‘as it stands’, and all favours are grateful accepted. We’ve had it by the bucketload during this week’s fixtures with Brentford even sitting in second place until Leeds equalised. Walking past Griffin Park on the school run with Harry, we’ve been going through permutations of results and possibilities – it’s amazing how much that can help with arithmetic. So, If Leeds lose, how many points will they have? Where will Fulham be if they beat Millwall?

There are, of course, a lot of games to go. Almost a third of the season still. But with nobody really striking out on their own, albeit West Bromwich Albion have a few points’ breathing space (at present) one can’t help but get drawn in by the situation unfolding around us. Which, as much as anything else, is why Birmingham City is a massive one for us Brentford fans. Regardless of the history. The obsession. 

I’ll absolutely love it if we pick up the points. Might even sing a song at full time. Roll on Saturday – see you there.   

 

Until then, here’s my take on it. Birmingham City – the ‘obsession’

For me the fascination – and it is one – with Birmingham City goes back to the late 80s / early 90s. I’ve written about this before and so apologies in advance but some things feel as though they bear repeating. No matter how forlorn it may be. Yet it is as crucial now as a means of seeing how far we’ve come compared to how things were before. Those of us a bit longer in the tooth will be well aware how our paths crossed over and over back in the day. 

1990-91 saw us go head-to-head in an epic Leyland DAF Southern zone semi with the Blues. Having already disposed of them in the FA Cup second round, Brentford could have fancied themselves as knock out football favourites. But with Wembley beckoning ,  there are no prizes for working out who eventually won both legs to record a  3-1 aggregate win.

The 91-92 Third Division title race famously saw things go our way in the final game of the season as Huddersfield Town and Gary Blissett ‘did the needful’ at Peterborough. A moment made all the sweeter by Saint & Greavsie having already used their Saturday morning show to congratulate Birmingham on being champions.

Deano and Bliss

Things weren’t so sweet the following season as  Birmingham edged past us in the battle to be named the least bad of our respective sides. Both teams fought a desperate, and in our case doomed, battle against relegation from Division One (now the Championship) with that final game humbling at Bristol City being enough to sink the Bees and save the Blues.

However, the coup de grâce was delivered in 1994-95 where, thanks to the joys of Premiership restructuring, there was only one automatic promotion place to the Championship available. With both teams neck and neck at the top, one game stood out like a sore thumb on the fixture list. For months in advance the trip to St. Andrews, only three games before the denouement of the campaign, was the one we all thought would be the crunch match.

Sure enough, it was. In the pressure cooker atmosphere of a packed stadium, where a win for Brentford would have made it all but mathematically impossible for even us to stuff things up, it was Blues who came out on top with a 2-0 win. To this day, I’ve been unable to watch half-time guest of honour Jasper Carrott. I’d love to blame psychological scarring from that result but, in fact, it’s more just his material. Ahhh, insurance claims.(kids, ask your dads).

Oh well, despite defeat at least we were still in the play-offs…..

So, yes. Whilst I DO focus on Birmingham City (a lot) it is as much about the history. About showing how far we have evolved. Rising up out of the primordial swamp and leaving the dinosaurs behind us – in more than one case . Shrewd ownership has proven that you don’t need to spend big to spend clever. Can we take it to the next level? Perhaps Saturday will give a bit more of a clue, but I wouldn’t bet against this race going to the very last weekend of the season. 

Nick Bruzon

It’s even tighter at the top as pressure grows.

19 Jan

A 0-0 draw at Huddersfield Town keeps the Brentford streak going. That’s one defeat in eight games as The Bees kept up the pressure on the top two. With Leeds United falling apart (again), their own 1-0 loss at Loftus Road yesterday means the gap from us to second is now down to 5 points from the 12 that it was just a few weeks ago. Hoping for a QPR win wasn’t the most enjoyable way to spend a Saturday lunchtime, and one which could be better translated as more praying for an away disaster, but events transpired in our favour and that’ll do me looking at the table this morning. Whilst Fulham remain fractionally  ahead of us, there was at least the consolation of watching their supporters spend all day crying on social media over the ‘clappers’ video’ from yesterday’s piece. There, there – mummy will kiss it better. Factor in the added bonus of Leicester City being next up in the FA Cup and its all happening in TW8.

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Brentford ‘official’ sum it up on Twitter

First up, Huddersfield Town. It was a performance that Thomas Frank would describe at full time as ‘average’ , saying he wasn’t happy with a point. Good man – high levels of expectation and long may that continue. Personally, 0-0 doesn’t look great on paper but this was a team missing both Pontus Jansson and Mathias Jensen. Both were deemed to be injured although one does then wonder if it leaves them fresh / available for the Leicester game. You know, just to keep the legs ticking over. Thomas would suggest in his interview (below) that it may be a game too soon for the midfielder but we’ll see. 

As for positives, it was another clean sheet to the Championship’s tightest defence. In a game of few chances, Brentford arguably had the majority. Josh Dasilva coming closest as he hit the post late on, albeit we all know that shots at goal count for naff all if you can’t put them away. But, it’s a point on the road. It’s another game unbeaten. It’s even more ground gained on the top two. It’s further psychological pressure applied to a Leeds United side who continue to astound with their ability to hit the meltdown button. 

Thomas tells it how it is.

We’re never going to pick up three points EVERY game. That’s not how football works, generally. Albeit, the memory of Liverpool and Manchester City matching each other win for win last season as the Premier League rolled out to that relentless conclusion  is still fresh in the mind. Liverpool are doing it again this time around whilst everybody else around them has reverted to what is considered the norm in footballing form. At least, for teams competing at the business end. Win most games, draw a few and slip up every now and again. Just look at the defeats for Leicester last weekend (Southampton) or Chelsea yesterday (injury hit Newcastle). So a point for Brentford is something I’ll embrace. Moreso in the bigger picture of how the season end table may play out. The key thing at this juncture is not to be hitting the skids. Not to be ‘doing a Leeds’. Not to have a record akin to West Brom, who are currently experiencing similarly patchy form.

I’m just gad that the emotional investment in proceedings at Loftus Road wasn’t wasted. Nobody wants to hope for an away defeat there, in the normal course of events, although this is anything but a normal season. So things couldn’t have turned out any better than hoped for. At least, from a Brentford / Leeds perspective. Patrick Bamford saw a penalty saved and Kalvin Phillips was shown a straight red late on for a horror challenge that summed up the wretched state of affairs currently being enjoyed / endured (delete as applicable) by the Elland Road outfit. They host Millwall next Tuesday with the Lions looking to go one better than their current position just outside the play-off zone. That promises to be fun. 

At the same time, we’re home to Nottingham Forest with the FA cup sandwiched in between. Excitement levels continue to build in this part of West London as the denouement of Griffin Park life draws to a thrilling conclusion. Fighting a battle on two fronts is going to mean some tough decisions are made on Saturday when that team is announced late in the morning. Go for broke in the cup? Stick with the B team? Or play a mix of both? Either way, I can’t wait for the next chapter of the Brentford story to unfold.

See you there.

Screenshot 2020-01-19 at 06.31.59

Things are getting tight at the top

Nick Bruzon 

New decade. Same brilliance.

2 Jan

What a start to the New Year. A 4-0 win for Brentford at Bristol City about as comprehensive as they come. Robins’ manager Lee Johnson self-combusting in a full time Scrappy Doo impersonation that saw him red carded at full time for an altercation with Thomas Frank.  With Leeds United being held at West Bromwich Albion, the gap to the top two is back down to single figures. The Bees sit third in The Championship after Fulham lost at home. Millwall, Forest and The Cottagers making up the play-off places. Ollie Watkins back up to one goal behind Aleksander Mitrovic at the top of the divisional goal scoring charts after his brace rounded things off following early goals from Bryan Mbeumo and Saïd Benrahma.

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The full time score at Ashton Gate, c/o Quest TV this morning..

We’ve all see this one, presumably? Either as part of the thousand plus who travelled to Ashton Gate or via the red button on Sky. Yet some performances need to be chewed over once more, such was the manner of victory. David Raya set up the first goal with just 6 minutes gone. His enormo-clearance one that might have been selected at Millwall on Sunday. This time he called it right with a ball that must have carried close to three-quarters of the pitch before Ollie picked it off and danced through the visitors defence. They tried but couldn’t stop him and it slipped through for Mbeumo to dink home his tenth of the season.

1-0 and game on. 1-0 and man off. Ashley Williams was shown red just minutes after he and Ollie had both been booked for a coming together. A scything challenge on Watkins resulted in his ejection and with it, the home team’s chance. It was 0-2 moments later. Less than half an hour gone and Benrahma got the goal he’s been looking for in recent weeks. Daniel Bentley could only pat down a Jensen shot and, despite upending Ollie when clean though, was unable to stop Saïd from doing his thing. It all looked ridiculously easy. The decision to trade him in for David Raya being proven more and more an incredible piece of business with each passing game.

A tactical readjustment for the hosts saw them working their way back in to the game. Relatively speaking. They didn’t concede anything further up to half time and even looked vaguely threatening. Yet there was no way through, with one kamikaze backpass in the second period giving even more opportunity for Ollie to join the scorers. His goals eventually coming in the final ten minutes. The first, guiding home a tracer bullet of a cross from Jan Zamburek down the left. His second, capitalising on a Mads Roerslev  (in for Dalsgaard) assist from the other flank.  Bentley only able to parry his header and there was to be no mistake as the ball fell nicely. 4-0 and all done. Barring the full time whistle and Johnson’s punishment. 

It really was a stunning, stunning performance. Thomas Frank’s BMW front three once more driving us forward with speed, skill and flair. It’s hard to believe the Mbeumo is only 20. Amazing to see the advances to Ollie’s game. Saïd on song just speaks for himself. All three once more dividing the goals between them. Benrahama back to his sizzling best. One second half flick over his own head had to be seen to be believed. Filthy, audacious, taking the p. All three rolled up into one and served up with a side salad of confidence and self-belief. Truly, he is a talent to behold.

With that accursed transfer window now open for a month, hanging on to B, M and W will be huge. If we can do it. Yet with spirits high and the team storming the table, why would anybody jump ship now? Yes, I know money talks and this is the naivety of being a fan but the chance to see what this team could do in the second half of the season is an intriguing one.

The defence is tight (we are now clear in the fewest ‘goals against’ chart), the midfield dominant and the attacking trio electric. Leeds United continue to wobble. Their 1-1 with West Brom meaning its only been one win out of the last five for them. Even that needed a 95th minute own goal by Birmingham City to hand them the points after having shipped four themselves.I still think that top two would be Boys Own stuff, relying on a staggering run of favours, but as long as we keep on doing our thing then anything else is a bonus. The gap in the-play off zone is starting to grow with clear air now between us and seventh placed Sheffield Wednesday. Four points the difference and our staggering goal difference of +21 bettered only by West Bromwich Albion.

It is easy to get excited, no question, but why not? Why shouldn’t we enjoy the moment? This team and this performance has been building . The goals have been flying in for months. The team slowly climbing up the table. Sneaking under the radar, if you will, to emerge into 2020 with plaudits from all. We’ve got the FA Cup against Stoke City next and then a return to Griffin Park in the league where QPR visit for our next Championship fixture. With the Lionel Road season tickets also going on sale to us non-premiums, it promises to be an exciting week or two.

Then again, when isn’t it?

Nick Bruzon