Tag Archives: Ollie Watkins

Brentford ruthless. QPR hopeless. Pressure building on top two.

12 Jan

That was just about the perfect day of football. Brentford obliterated QPR with a pedal to the metal first half performance that saw our visitors blown away and leaving Griffin Park for the last time on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline. PaddyHoops. John Storm. Mike O’Callaghan. Pete Doherty – your boys took one hell of a beating. And it was quite wonderful. Moreso with Leeds United falling apart (again) and West Bromwich Albion being held at Charlton Athletic. With the pressure on the top two building further, The Bees have halved that previous 12 point gap to a mere 6.

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Players and fans celebrate – Pontus loving it

But before table talk and our rivals, let’s cut to the chase of the game at Griffin Park. Brentford were simply magnificent. The first half especially where the much talked about BMW of Benrahma, Mbeumo and Watkins all scored over the course of a blistering 15 minute spell in that opening period. QPR weren’t even close to coming second, such was the one way traffic and relentlessness of our approach. With fans knowing what this one meant, and Peter Gilham in fine voice, the goals started to flow.

First up, B. Saïd sweeping home a Jensen free kick to make it 1-0. The ball was played low into the box, Benrahma lost his man and hit it first time from just in front of the penalty spot to the bottom corner. The crowd exploded as one. Broad smiles across the faces of the players. Pontus fist pumping and screaming for all his worth. What a moment. Whatever pressure might have been on us was released in an instant.

Next, M. A woeful clearance from the QPR keeper found man of the match Christian Nørgaard. He hoisted it up to Mbeumo whose reading of the high ball into the box as he ran was exquisite, watching it from before reaching a telescopic leg around the chasing defender and making the perfect connection. 2-0 and the ground went bonkers. Peter set to blow, which he did just a few minutes later.

With the Bees continuing to push it was the turn of W, Ollie Watkins. His header coming off the end of another free kick move as Ethan Pinnock guided the ball across the face of goal. “That’s the B…M…W…” exhorted Peter over the p.a. system. Ollie making it quite clear the goal, his 18th of the season, was being given to him ! It sees him top of the Championship charts, level with Aleksandar Mitrovic who was stretched off yesterday.

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The BMW…

This was the stuff of dreams. And it could have been more. Watkins denied a stonewall penalty early doors as he was bundled over when clear through. Immediate talk in the stands and on social media was that this seemed an outrageous decision. It was something borne out by the Sky cameras and the crowd were quick to let the Braemar Road linesman know. “You should check your VCR” suggested one. Alex to our right was much more vocal. His observation thatYou know they’re slagging you off all over Sky  drawing huge laughs of appreciation. 

It was just about as exhilarating a half as one could have hoped for. Former Chief Executive Mark Devlin sitting up in the director’s box, watching his team torn apart. They came back into it, slightly, in the second half with Nakhi Wells pulling one back but it was nothing more than a consolation. The visitor’s industrial approach endangering our players and angering the fans although not sufficiently to dampen the mood. The cheers at full time worthy of the occasion. The celebrations from the players matching those in the stands.

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Plenty to mull over at 3-0 down

Brentford were ruthless. QPR hopeless. It could, probably should, have been more. As one Braemar Road observer noted, “Imagine Peter if he had to announce Dasilva BMW”. Instead, we took our foot off the gas and coasted over the line. That said, the single most importune thing was getting the win. There’s not a single person amongst us who wouldn’t have taken three points and a 3-1 if offered up front. Winning the last ever West London derby at Griffin Park was an absolute must – and the boys more than met the challenge.

I’d imagine this will get a few plays…

Then, when the afternoon couldn’t get any better, it did. And how! Charlton managing not one but two equalisers as West Bromwich Albion were held at The Valley. Then Leeds United did what only Leeds United can. They fell apart. This time, Sheffield Wednesday their conquerors with two very late goals at Elland Road – their only two shots all game  – to leave the home side pointless. The gap to the top two continuing to shrink as the current form over the last 7(seven) league games  reads – West Brom : 1  Leeds United : 2   Brentford : 5.

That’s the exciting part. It all counts for nothing on the ‘automatic’ front should Leeds and West Brom both start winning again. That said, we’re now five points clear of seventh place ourself. There was a time not so long ago that just three points separated close to a dozen teams in and around that play-off zone. Now we’re starting to see some clear air. Now is the time to really push on.

The euphoria of beating our neighbours was about as exciting as it gets. Even official got in on the act with just about the best tweet they’ve ever shared…

On a personal note, H was the mascot and had a cracking afternoon. The club, as ever, pulling out all the stops for our young fans. It was just about the cherry on the cake of a wonderful day in and around Griffin Park.

There aren’t many of these to go – let’s make them all count.

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London Pride

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

Sometimes it’s just important to set the scene.

1 Jan

Bristol City host Brentford today. At the very top of the table Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion meet later in the day. Good luck. Good luck everybody. Personally, this is all going to be hard work. 

I woke up, took one look at the detritus from the night before and knew immediately that things were not good. Empty bottles. Lots of empty bottles. Dirty plates. Mess. Wine glasses all over the kitchen counter. Ferrero Rocher wrappers littering the living room floor like the remnants of an ambassador’s reception gone rogue. Fuzzy memories of Craig David doing his thing on the TV. Thankfully, none of Jools Holland and his smug piano show. 

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Then, with the espresso kicking in I stumbled across it. The left over fondue pot containing the congealed remains of a kilogram of Swiss cheese. The pungent smell carried to the back of the throat on a wave of grease. The plan of reducing the pain felt today by last night lining the stomach with an early evening, pre-drinks blanket of bread and melted gruyere suddenly backfiring with abandon. Should have stuck to the original plan of pizza rather than trying to be clever.

Let’s leave that thought there. All being well, nothing some fresh air won’t sort out. Hopefully. Instead 2020 begins with an immediate chance to put Sunday’s anti-football at Millwall out with the empties. A stodgy game played (if that is the word) on an over watered ploughed-field of a surface. One can’t dispute that The Lions had a specific game plan, which worked, but it was very much one for the insomniacs. Too many Brentford players looked off the pace and unable to adjust to the visitors pressing game. I’m pretty sure today will be different.

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Millwall away – awful

That’s not to suggest Bristol City will be easy. Anything but. They’ve been in the play-off race for the vast majority of the season and are only one point outside of it at present. A run of four straight defeats has now ended with Sunday’s home win over bottom three Luton Town. You can bet your bottom dollar they’ll be expecting more of the same. Then again, so will Brentford. If ever motivation was needed it will be the chance to consolidate our own top six placing. Likewise, the opportunity to bury the memory of Sunday. For the talismanic Benrahma to get back on his top game – something so desperately missing at The Den. He wasn’t alone, either, but knowing just how good he can be, an off-key Saïd stands out more than anybody. That’s the price to be paid for such incredible talent, I suppose.

I’d love to pour forth with erudite learnings and big match previews at this juncture but it’s not really working. Not today. The thought that forcing myself to the keyboard after the treat of a rare lie in would help sort things out proving to be nothing more than wishful thinking. Instead, there’s another waft of scorched emmenthal drifting across the kitchen and it’s not good. Mrs. Bruzon and Harry are both asleep still. I can only envy them. No doubt each dreaming about Ollie Watkins and  Sergi Canos. Albeit I’d imagine different content in their respective minds’ eyes. Instead, a riverside walk beckons before the football. Possibly.   

Sometimes it’s just important to set the scene. Now, how about a Bloody Mary to settle the stomach…

Nick Bruzon

Frank is sense. Christmas gifts see Bees go third.

27 Dec

What an afternoon. Brentford ended the day sitting third in the Championship after Swansea City were the latest to be on the receiving end of a Griffin Park trouncing. A brace from Ollie Watkins and another goal for Bryan Mbeumo putting this one out of sight, despite a tired second half flurry from the visitors. With Leeds United falling apart (again), the gap to ‘automatic’ is now down to single figures – 8 points being the difference. Even then, they needed an 89th minute equaliser from Stuart Dallas to rescue a point at home to Preston. With West Bromwich Albion (Barnsley) and Fulham (Luton) both drawing against the divisional whipping boys and Sheffield Wednesday going down to Stoke City, our rivals for the top spots formed an orderly queue to take their turn of delivering The Bees a Christmas gift. Specifically that of doing us a favour. The thought of our trip to Millwall on Sunday has suddenly become very appealing (not a typo).

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Thomas enjoys the moment at Full Time

You’ve all seen the action, presumably. Either as part of a packed Griffin Park or c/o the Sky coverage that meant our game went out live to the nation yesterday. At least, the part that doesn’t want their live action left in a recycling box or sitting on the doorstep. Otherwise, the official highlights are further below. Mbeumo opened proceedings early on. Guiding home a corner that had been headed back across the face of goal by an unmarked Ethan Pinnock. The big man, who had retained his place alongside the returning Pontus Jansson, doing magnificently to make the room and plop it straight on to Bryan’s head.

Twenty minutes gone and 1-0 up. There was barely time for anybody taking a toilet break to get back to their seats before the lead was double. None other than Ollie Watkins. The striker, and that’s what he is, grabbing a true poacher’s goal as he stuck out a leg to steer a Rico Henry cross past the despairing Freddy Woodman in the away goal. 2-0 and, surely, that was it?

Well, yes. Although being Brentford we had a little moment just after the hour when David Raya was unable to smother a shot from Bersant Celina and Andre Ayew was closest to the loose ball. Urghh. With that, the Swans got their tails up. But rather than breaking Brentford’s arm with their wing men, it was the Bees who broke their spirits. The pressure was, as ever, contained and Ollie Watkins wrapped things up. Sprinting clear, he charged down on the goal to make things safe as we headed towards injury time. There was to be no sweating on the result. No clenched buttocks. No last minute stress. The final whistle a perfunctory noise greeted with ecstasy rather than relief. And that was before we checked ‘other results’.

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The Bees were dominant

Honestly, one can’t even begin to describe the mood around the place at present. EVERYBODY has faith. Has confidence. The players are calm under pressure and exhilarating on the ball. The fans lapping it up. Peter Gilham losing his shit on the public address system. Each announcement becoming more and more enthused.

The piece about him in The Guardian yesterday described how he was offered a script but refused it. Thank goodness. We all know how incredible he is but to hear his joy transmit to the fans and the players is all a part of what is helping make our success. Even at half time, he stood there with mic in hand, not even lifting it to his lips until he had clapped everybody off and into the changing room. You may not have noticed this in the rush for the beer queue and the ablutions block but I stood and watched. What a man. The beating heart of our club.

But then, what a team. Matthew Benham’s genius and Thomas Frank’s approach have delivered up a squad that is the envy of all. A team built on a metaphorical shoe string (relatively), with a makeshift centre forward, that continue to defy expectation. At least, of those looking in. We’ve seen this coming for years. The diamonds unearthed and sold on. Their replacements being even better than before. The momentum building. The confidence high. 

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Safe to say that this performance was well received

Yet this feels like nothing I’ve experienced before. Even under the continuing highs that we’ve been served up over the last ten seasons. Now, I expect to win every game. That’s not arrogance. It’s confidence. It’s a reflection in the ability that this team has. The perfect blend of youth and experience. Unfettered skill allowed to run riot. Wise heads at the back to give guiding advice. Pontus is our big name at the back but don’t overlook Henrik Dalsgaard either. His lungs must be be gargantuan.

Next up Millwall (away) on Sunday. What an opportunity awaits if we can carry on doing what we’ve done so far. Then it’s Bristol City on New Year’s Day. Whilst one doesn’t like to look too far ahead, that game is mentioned more as an incentive (should any, somehow, be needed) for that trip to the New Den. After we run out at Ashton Gate,  West Bromwich Albion host Leeds United. Either way, something has to give.

For now, though, it’s a period of reflection. Of enjoying what was a quite incredible end to 2019 at Griffin Park. There’s the short hop to South-East London on Sunday and with it, the opportunity to carry on this enjoying this fantastic period. I’m sorry, the words are kind of failing me this morning. I’m sitting here with a huge grin on the face at this obscene hour of the day. I’m about to head back to work but the thought of commuting is, for once, not the usual harbinger of doom and gloom that comes with rising at this time of the day. Instead, there’s a big smile and a genuine feeling of well being. That’s down to Peter. To Thomas. To Matthew. To Bryan. To Ollie. To Henrik, Pontus, Josh, Ethan and the rest of the team. 

That’s down to everyone. THANK YOU. See you on Sunday… Until then, here’s the action once more

 

Nick Bruzon

Magnificent. Rivals thumped, humped and spanked as top of the table tightens.

15 Dec

Well that was just stunning. Another home win as Brentford beat Fulham – yet again – on Saturday to go fourth in the Championship table. It was as comfortable a 1-0 as you could hope to see. The visitor’s goalmouth leading a charmed life with the Bees hitting the woodwork three times. There’s only Preston, Leeds United (who gave an intriguing reminder of their annual ability to fall apart) and then table toppers West Bromwich Albion (also derby winners as they came from behind against Birmingham City to render Harlee Dean’s goal meaningless) above us. 

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Another wonderful win under the lights

With Barnsley hammering qpr 5-3, it was just about the perfect day of results for Brentford fans. The chief of which was, of course, at Griffin Park. In truth it never felt in doubt, the first twenty minutes aside. Fulham starting in the ascendency. Brentford dropping passes short, having no luck with the bounce of the ball and just feeling second to everything. It was a brief fancy. A posing concern that vanished as quickly as it had arrived. Fulham had their moment, even hit the post at one point (albeit David Raya had the shot covered) and then the Bees stepped it up. My word did we step it up.

Thomas Frank would talk at full time about his pre-match message to the players, “One thing. Out run them. When you feel the pain, run again.” The tactic was simple. Keep moving. Keep running. You will win. And sure enough, we did. Bryan Mbeumo got the goal that silenced the visitors and gave us the lead. Saïd Benrahma with the cross from the right although Thomas was as quick to praise Ollie for his tireless work. Not just in the move that saw Mbeumo fire home but throughout the game.

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View from the Braemar – Bryan celebrates his goal

With fans on their feet, voices raised and smiles broad (that was just Peter Gilham) we pushed on. How Ollie didn’t score I have no idea as the post came to Fulham’s rescue. It was one of those which, watching it live, had seemed as though it was just a case of waiting for the ball to hit the back of the net. Alas, not.

Next up, Pontus Jansson just before half time. The woodwork once again coming to Fulham’s rescue in front of their supporters. Apparently – I’d been dragged to the forecourt at that point by a boy in need of a hot chocolate and a wee. The spirit of BBC Billy Reeves still alive and kicking.

It could have been 2 or 3 as the players trooped in for their break but, frankly, we were winning. Forty-five minutes away from another win and a move into the play-off zone. Each and every one of us would have taken that if made the proverbial offer before kick off.

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Watching on as Pontus hits the post.

Back out and it was more of the same. Brentford tireless. Indefatigable. Unceasing in the hunt for a goal which would have secured the points. More importantly, sparing the heart conditions of more than a few people sitting around us in the Braemar. As stress levels built, Mathias Jensen did it. Yessssss. 2-0 !!!! Nooooo!! Somehow it hadn’t gone in, despite bouncing off the inside of the post, across the goal and surely over the line. Surely? 

I’m still convinced it was in but the reaction of the players and the straight back to action for them tells us that, perhaps, one of those we need to chalk up to optical illusion. Instead, it was a case of calm heads and keep on going. There was nothing to worry about. My word, the stakes were high. The desire to win second to none. I’ve not felt the ground like this in a while. The awareness of what a win meant, clear to all.

Brentford of old a team that, we all know, would have played this well and created that many chances only to see a freak goal bounce in off Alexander Orlov’s arse in the final seconds. But not this side.

Thomas Frank has instilled confidence. Pontus Jansson a colossus. Mathias Jensen pulling the strings in the middle. Rico and Henrik never stopping. Ethan Pinnock making that second centre back berth his own. Everybody playing their part. The team spirit, the smiles to each other. The handshakes and the all round camaraderie clear for all. These boys would lay down their lives for each other if it meant stopping goal going in. The post-match walk around the pitch once more a sign of how happy everything is in the camp. 

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Full time celebrations

And so rather than panic, it was more a case of running out those last three minutes of added on time. Then celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup. Yes, there really was a Leyton Orient away feel to this one. I’ll take your words and recycle them Mr. Slade. I’m not proud. But in terms of significant moments, that could be about as huge as they come.

Of course , there’s a hell of a long way to go but now we are in the top six, this is ours to claim. Ours to keep on making progress. Ours to look next at hunting down West Bromwich Albion and Leeds United. Whilst both seem well, well clear at the top we all know what Leeds do so well. Yesterday was another fine example as a 3-0 lead at home to Cardiff City ended in a 3-3 come back by the visitors. And that, with a man sent off. Could it happen again or will it be a blip….? They visit Fulham next Saturday so either way, something else has to give from the teams around us.

As for Brentford, our next action is the trip to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. The league leaders. The conquerors of Birmingham City (although that’s no major achievement these days, such is the state of a Blues team who are less ten times better and more starting to look over their shoulders where the gap from 16th to the relegation slots isn’t that far off).

It is about as tough as they come. On paper. We’ve all seen how solid West Brom are. How Romaine Sawyers has taken his game to the next level since leaving Griffin Park. And he was already firing then. But Brentford are no slouches either. Only Leeds United have a tighter defence, as it stands, and 3 of their 13 conceded came in yesterday’s Cardiff debacle. But Brentford are only on 17 against. That’s almost half the total from this time last year, if memory serves. With the goals flying in at the other end, we’re worth an extra point on GD alone.

The trip to the Hawthorns looks likes it’s going to be an absolute cracker. For now, though, let’s relax in the present and enjoy this moment. Thomas – thank you. 

What an afternoon. What a performance. What a way to head towards Christmas. As one New Road observer put it in the pub afterwards, “That was a pleasant surprise”

For me, it was very, very pleasant. But no surprise. Fulham got just what was coming to them. Brentford delivering another Christmas gift to the fans. Now bring on The Baggies.

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None shall pass

Nick Bruzon

Thomas has my vote as the stakes get ever higher.

12 Dec

Another game at Griffin Park, another win. Cardiff City the latest side to fall as Brentford picked up all three points in a 2-1 which, after seeming effortless and more a case of ‘how many?’, ended up being a bit of a nail biter as the visitors were allowed back into it courtesy of a quiet magnificent set piece routine. Credit where it is due. But with just about all other results going our way last night and everybody else drawing barring QPR who won at Birmingham City (that one really was Sophie’s Choice – other, cruder, metaphors may also apply) the gap to the play off places and Fulham in third – for now – got even tighter. With 21 games played, The Bees sit immediately outside the play-off zone and just two points behind the Cottagers.

It was a game which, as called in advance, featured the return of both Henrik Dalsgaard and Pontus Jansson. For the other nine it was the team which last ran out in from of the home fans  – ‘that’ scoreline against Luton Town – which started again. Meaning Ethan Pinnock retained his place alongside the enigmatic Swede rather than Julian Jeanvier. That said, JJ did put in an appearance in a late switch to three at the back that had Griffin Park gritting it’s collective teeth and all knowing ‘what happens’ when we move to last gasp defence. In this instance though, we held strong !

To be fair, it hadn’t felt remotely like getting to that buttock clenching stage for huge swathes of this one. Saïd and Mathias both coming close early with strong chances. How Jensen didn’t score remains a mystery, although Neil Etheridge in goal for the visitors will claim the credit as the midfielder found himself clean through but shot at the ‘keeper. 

It didn’t matter. With little over half the opening period gone, Saïd continued his one man torment of the Bluebirds and lined up Bryan Mbeumo for the opener. It had been coming all half in a game that was about as one way as they come. The Algerian working wonders and bamboozling defenders before cueing up his fellow wideman. 1-0. Game on, surely, game over ? Surely?

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Goalscorer Mbeumo runs at Cardiff, again.

If there was any doubt it was put to bed immediately into the second period. Ollie Watkins glancing a header across the face of goal and past Etheridge. Whilst the cross had been delivered from the Braemar it was a move which had begun on the opposite flank, via the medium of a ….short corner. This is not a typo. This is not a drill. I repeat, a short corner. My word. One of them has actually worked. Of all the ironies and, perhaps, Brentford official did me a favour in electing not to print last night’s programme column (no idea, for those that asked but thank you) in which this most maligned of set pieces did get another mention.

We digress. With it, Ollie moves on up to 13 goals in the Championship charts. His strike made to look as effortless as any he has scored all season. It wasn’t, but that’s just how he rolls. Cool, calm and another one collected to add to his tally. That’s 3 behind Aleksandar Mitrovic at Fulham. If Saturday didn’t have enough frisson already, there is now an even more interesting sub-plot with this battle between two of the table’s top scorers.     

So that was it. Wasn’t it? 46 minutes gone. 2-0 Brentford. Cardiff not given a glance all game and the Bees still pushing. A home banker from this point onwards. Ah, if only football was that easy. We’ve all been here too many times to think there’s such a thing as a comfortable evening. Luton Town aside. Sure enough, we conspired to almost ‘do a Brentford’. Almost.

Referee John Brooks, so strong in the first half, suddenly went to ‘random mode’. It was as though he had been imbued with the spirit of Gavin Ward. The Bees sat back and Cardiff grew in confidence. Moreso after Marlon Pack absolutely leathered a free kick from distance just after the hour. The move had been a well worked one to stretch us but was then hit with all the accuracy and speed of a guided missile. David Raya had no chance. The away fans celebrated and the Bees wobbled. 

But if there was any doubt in the stands, there was none on pitch. Wave after wave of pressure was mopped up. The defence holding firm. The addition of Jeanvier not having the feared imbalance . Instead, we stayed tight. It wouldn’t have been my call, that’s for sure, but it’s why Thomas Frank is head coach and yours truly just writes nonsense in his spare time. It’s amazing to think about some of the ridiculous stick he was getting just a month or two ago. Just last weekend after the Sheffield Wednesday game. He’s a man with a plan and has his boys firing. Holding their nerve. Getting the win. Patience, and a bit of faith, people. It will be rewarded, as was proven last night.

Four minutes of additional time, stretched out by a head injury, were as angsty as they got but Cardiff shot themselves in the foot with a needless bit of foul play at the end and, with it, their moment was gone.  An oddly set up free kick, with the visitors not knowing whether to defend it or line up for a last gasp run at our goal, saw the clock run down. Brentford hung on to win a game that had felt so, so comfortable for so, so long. Neil Harris tasted defeat for the first time in his Bluebirds’ career. Brentford with another win under lights and with it the realisation that we only have two more ‘regular’ league games after dark  – the visits of Leeds United and West Brom. Enjoy these moments whilst you can.

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There aren’t many of these to go…

 At the end of the day, Clive, the result is the only thing that counts when the final tally is counted up. It’s another three points for The Bees. The table ever tighter at the top. Brentford knowing that a win against Fulham on Saturday will take us above our neighbours. Their own back to back defeats all helping the chasing pack. Not that we needed any extra incentive for this one but, my word, if ever we needed any extra incentive then here it is.

All that’s to come. For now, the highlights are up and we can all catch our breath. Until the weekend……

 

Nick Bruzon

Dasilva and goals leave Bees in 7th (seventh) heaven as Lu-tonked.

1 Dec

My. Word. We’ve only gone and done it. Brackets. This is not a typo. This is not a drill. Brentford achieved the magnificent 7(seven) – 0 scoreline in a game that was about as one-sided as they come at Griffin Park on Saturday afternoon. I’d fancied us in the build up but it really was a case of Luton Hoo as The Bees ran riot against the hapless Hatters, blowing them away as easily as a crisp packet aught in the breeze. A Josh Dasilva hat-trick added the cherry to the cake of a scoreline that could, quite easily, have reached double figures. Our biggest win in 25 years, The Bees were about as rampant as it gets. The performance we’ve been building to delivered in epic style.

It’s tricky to be objective in a game of this nature. Luton offered no resistance whatsoever in a game where their plan seemed to be one of matching us in an attempt to play football and, when fair means didn’t work, resort to foul. Referee Tony Harrington issuing no yellows but waving ‘advantage Brentford’ four or five times as somewhat cumbersome attempts to win the ball by the visitors saw the Bees retain possession and continue in our wonderful attacking vibe.

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Luton tried but couldn’t keep pace

The returning Bryan Mbeumo scored the first with little more than five minutes on the clock. A calamitous mix up in the the Luton defence allowing him to nip through and tap it home. Dan Potts electing to chest it past his onrushing goalkeeper James Shea, leaving the Brentford man a tight finish but one he put away with aplomb in front of the home fans. 1-0 and what a relief. If only because the game had started with the ‘dirty trick’ of changing ends. It’s one of those things that just shouldn’t be done and always makes me feel extremely uncomfortable to see us kicking at the ‘away’ end in the second half. 

For once, it made no difference. If anything, a decision that played in to our hands as Griffin Park exploded into life. The atmosphere built. The attacks kept coming and on the half hour it was two. Ollie Watkins guiding home a Josh Dasilva pass to take his personal goal tally for the season to 12. A few minutes later it was three. Mathias Jensen stroking it home in what seemed like slow motion for our next goal. 3-0 up and with complete one way traffic, not even Brentford could cock it up from here against shell shocked opposition? No chance. It was more the case of how many as things then became the Josh Dasilva show.

His first, a beautiful curler from distance that seem to be his trademark strike. It was an exquisite finish and the first of our four (at that point) that left ‘keeper Shea with no hope whatsoever. If the others had all been aided by what we’ll politely call ‘defensive frailty’, this one would have beaten pretty much any ‘keeper. A real thing of beauty with the celebration, from players and fans alike, one worthy of the strike. See also the fifth, and his second, bang on the stroke of half time. Firing home from the tightest of angles it went straight through Shea’s legs and into the far corner of the net. The assist from Benrahma nothing short of audacity on a stick as he scooped it over the Luton defence.

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Brentford celebrate the fourth. Or was it fifth?

Oh my! This was incredible. The stuff of comic books. The stuff of dreams. A professional team shouldn’t, really, be this far ahead of their divisional rivals at this stage in a game. Yet, as we’ve been saying all season, this squad has ability in bucketloads. Has flair. Has confidence. And when we hit our stride, anything can happen.

It was one of those where we didn’t want half-time to come. Although, at the least, it allowed us the chance to catch breath and, more importantly, witness the turning of the Farewell Griffin Park countdown board. With it being the official Rainbow Laces day, this task was performed by our LGBT supporters group, the LGBeeTs. Great work all round.

And with boards updated, it was back out for more football. Whilst the Bees kept going, it almost felt as though the momentum of the first half had been lost. Luton came more into it (that’s relative) with a couple of substitutions having been made at the interval. 

Is that a new goalkeeper?”, asked one Braemar Road observer. 

I don’t know. I’ve only seen the other one from the back”. 

It wasn’t, but our guests did show more resolve as they looked to limit the goal difference deficit. Brentford tried to step it up but couldn’t, quite, break through. Both teams making the full compliment of substitutes, with Thomas Frank even comfortable enough to remove Pontus Jansson from the fray. And with Luton done, they were then blighted by an injury to Brendan Galloway that saw a lengthy break in play and the player eventually stretchered off on 69 minutes. It was a cruel twist of fate for the visitors but one which gave Brentford the impetus to turn the screw once more.

Saïd Benrahma from the penalty spot made it six with twenty minutes to go. If his previous effort, at Loftus Road, had been blasted high and hard this one was at complete odds. Rolled into the bottom corner it sent the home fans wild and, on personal note, set off a fair few Twitter notifications. As our regular reader may be well aware of yours truly’s fascination with what happens when the scoreline reaches that magical 7(seven) goal mark, there was never going to be a better chance. 

Cripes. This was tense. At 6 up the mood should be one of celebration. And, whilst of course it was, there was the underlying knowledge of what might happen. What could happen. What did happen when referee Harrington pointed to the spot for the second time with just minutes left on the clock. Gulp. There was to be no Benrahma this time. With Josh on a hat-trick, the ball was passed over to give him the chance to start off his match ball collection.  Get in !!! No mistake. Cool as you like. He’d done it. We’d done it. Peter Gilham on the microphone set to blow.  Referee Harringotn putting the visitors out of their misery with a mere 6 minutes added time. Seasoned observers calling that one closer to 10 but, at that juncture, any complaint wold have been somewhat trite.

It was incredible. Brilliant. Magnificent. All of the above. Luton, it is true, offered little but you can only beat the players in front of you and Brentford did that in some style. With it, we move to 7th(seventh) place in the table. One point off the play offs and two of fourth. We’ve the trip to Wednesday on Saturday and then visits from Cardiff City, next Wednesday and the small matter of Fulham the following Saturday. 

That’s all to come though. For now, let’s just enjoy the moment. It’s not often you score 7(seven) goals at home. December 1994 against Plymouth the last time we achieved that feat. It was a special afternoon. Here’s hoping there are more like this.  

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Nick Bruzon

The huge prize awaiting if……

27 Nov

Oh my. What an incentive going in to this evening’s game at Blackburn Rovers. If Brentford win and West Bromwich Albion avoid defeat at home to Bristol City, The Bees will end the night in the play-off places. The maths are that simple even if the application of these facts may not be. Football has a funny habit of kicking you in the nuts when you least expect it. When your hope is highest. Yet, at the same time, it would be churlish to ignore the position we now find ourselves in after Swansea City were held at Huddersfield last night.

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The top of the table via the BBC – basic maths.

For Thomas Frank, naming the team would seem an easy decision. Ethan Pinnock more than impressed against Reading on Saturday and so, with Julian Jeanvier still suspended, his retaining his place is an absolute no-brainer. Thankfully, a decision that can be justified on merit rather than card induced necessity. In the midfield, Christian Nørgaard is available once more and could be in with more of a chance at getting his place back. However, Mathias Jensen won’t give up his place without a fight and the cross he supplied to set up Ollie Watkins’ winner last time out was sublime. Inch perfect delivery that was begging to be put away. Watkins duly obliged.

Could Josh Dasilva be moved to accommodate Nørgaard or is, as is more likely, it simply a case of having to bide his time on the bench with Thomas selecting an unchanged starting XI? I can’t see beyond the same team as started against Reading beginning this one tonight. Then again, I’m just the numpty on the terrace and would have more chance of calling the lottery numbers than getting something as vital as a team selection correct.

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Jensen supplied a delicious cross for the goal on Saturday.

Blackburn Rovers are no pushover, that’s for sure. A Bradley Dack brace and a shot from Stewart Downing earned them all the points in a 3-2 fight back against basement boys Barnsley on Saturday. No doubt they will be looking to build on this and climb further up the table from their current 17th. But Brentford are going to be confident. We have every right to be so, too. The last three away games have seen us pick up 9 points and scoring 3 goals each time out with fine wins at Loftus Road, Swansea and then Wigan. We haven’t won four successive games on the road since back in 2011 and so there is yet another incentive to really go for it tonight. That is, if getting Ollie Watkins to the the top of the Championship goal scorer charts or ourselves into the top six wasn’t enough already.

This one is going to be tough. Win, lose or draw it makes no real difference in the long term. At least, at this juncture. It would be quite magnificent to get the points and hope West Bromwich Albion can do us the proverbial favour. With Leeds United grabbing a late winner at Reading last night, the Baggies currently find themselves in second place. One place off the top of the table. If The Bees have the motivation to go for it then surely Slavan Bilic’s team have just as much themselves? The battle of Romaine Sawyers v Daniel Bentley could be a fascinating one although, for obvious reasons, not one I’ll be following.

Instead, it’ll be the red-button and Sky Sports smudge vision in our house. A mid-week trip to Lancashire is one that is diametrically opposed to the budget, holiday allocation at work and domestic green cards. The efforts and ability of our travelling fans to get to games like this one never ceases to amaze me. Would that being there was an option. Tonight will be very much a case of mind over body and true faith in our boys.

Brentford have been superb in the last two months. The victory over Reading very much a case of grinding one out against stubborn opposition who had set out to strangle us. Something we have often struggled with yet this time around kept going for the entire 90 minutes. However we play and whatever Blackburn do, the opportunity and ability are there. 

I can’t wait for this one. Enioy.

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We’ve had some fine away performances this season.

Nick Bruzon  

Are we getting close to dusting off ‘that’ hashtag after another fine performance?

24 Nov

Get in Ollie Watkins! An 11th goal of the season was sufficient to separate Brentford and Reading, with a 1-0 win for the Bees seeing us climb up to 8th in the Championship table. A mere 2 points outside the play-off spots. With a midweek trip to Blackburn Rovers and then the visit of Luton Town in six days, there’s everything to play for ahead of this time next week. How far away does that season opening home defeat to Birmingham City seem now? Thomas Frank’s fifth win in six league games seeing us on a fast track to dusting off the dreaded ‘Novemberkings’ hashtag. And with Ollie, likened at full time to none other than Juventus legend Cristiano Ronaldo, just one goal behind Aleksandar Mitrovic at the top of the Championship goalscorers table the mood at Griffin Park is buoyant. 

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Heyyyy. Thomas Frank a very happy man at full time

This one was about as hard fought as it comes. In form Reading setting up to stifle the play (see also: Huddersfield Town last time out) and restrict the attacking prowess of The Bees. It was a tactic that worked in the first half with Rico Henry nobled early, requiring a lengthy period of treatment, as Brentford eased their way in to a game that had chances at a premium. Indeed, it was the visitors with the best opportunity of the opening period when George Puscas found himself clean through and bearing down on goal. It had 0-1 all over it but David Raya was equal to it and then some.

Haring off his line, he closed down the gap before spreading himself to close out the threat of certain goal. It really was a magnificent piece of quick thinking, Virtuoso goalkeeping from a man who has fast become a hero the The Griffin Park faithful. The need for precision vital, with referee David Coote showing two very early yellows and then set to ‘random mode’ in his decision making. How Andy Yiadom stayed on in the opening period I have no idea.

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Rico took an early hit

He wasn’t helped by his officials, with the linesman on the Braemar Road side making the foolish mistake of interacting with, and talking back to, the crowd. The magnificent ‘angry dad’ seized on this in a heartbeat and was amongst the many explaining the rules and cajoling the hapless assistant. I will miss this level of interaction and closeness at Lionel Road but, with the price of Premium seating to replicate my current touchline view being what it is, we’ll likely be up in the Gods next time out.

But we digress. Raya did brilliantly. There wasn’t even a glimmer of a potential penalty or a goal as the chance chance was extinguished. And with it, seemingly, Reading’s hopes. Brentford built the pressure in the second half with that man Ollie Watkins finding the back of the net on the hour. Mathias Jensen delivering a beautiful cross from the New Road side of the field straight on to the head of the free scoring number 11. Watkins made no mistake with a powerful downward header back across the face of goal and into the bottom corner.

Griffin Park erupted. As it does. The rain soaked crowd off their seats. Voices raised as high as those pumping visits. Players celebrating as the deadlock was broken. Oh, what a moment. There’s no place like it at times like this. But still there were thirty minutes to go. Still, a referee with no grip on the game or idea what was really going on. Yet Brentford kept going. Watkins again with the chance to double the lead just a few minutes later but not quite able to turn it in on the line.  And as the clock wound down, the pressure built.

Reading are no slouches and they showed it. With five minutes of additional time added on at the death, they started turning the screw. Attack followed attack with more scrambles than an 80s amusement arcade (I absolutely LOVED that game – go check it out). It felt very much like the last attack in a game of rugby. Phase after phase of possession in an attempt to find that elusive way through. Chance after chance cleared as the Brentford defence held firm until Mr Coote finally put us out of our misery. Yesssss!!!!  Well done Pontus, Ethan Pinnock et al as the rejigged backline kept it up until the death.

It was an afternoon of tension and brilliance. Full credit to Reading for pushing us to the absolute limit. They may feel hard done by but it is chances taken that win games. Not possession. Not frustration. Not bad luck. Ollie Watkins got the one effort that counted and it was enough for Brentford. His stock continues to rise and talk on the Quest TV highlights show this morning has very much been that that he is the one that the (so called) big clubs will be looking towards when the transfer window opens.

I’ve no doubt that he will remain in the public eye but why would Thomas want to sell? As he noted at full time, “He’s definitely a number nine now, because he’s so flexible. Cristiano Ronaldo did quite well in the beginning as a winger. Hopefully Ollie can do something similar.

What higher praise is there? What better indication of his ability as the goals continue to flow?

All that’s to worry about in January, though. For now we’ve had another fine win and another three points. The table is really starting to lock up as our progress continues upwards. Keep the wins coming and the rest will look after itself. Blackburn Rovers away on Wednesday is going to be another tough one. But then so was Wigan. So was Swansea. And look what happened there.

Bring it on. I can’t wait…

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Hands off

Nick Bruzon   

Bees smash QPR to secure bragging rights. Again.

29 Oct

You wait ages at the bus stop and then three come along all at once. Brentford trounced Queens Park Rangers in their own back yard, again, last night as a 1-3 victory made it 9 points out of 9. It was a performance that, if anything, the scoreline fails to do justice to. But for home goalkeeper Liam Kelly it could have been double that. Only a series of fine saves keeping things respectable for the hosts who had no answer to the irrepressible waves of black and yellow. With Huddersfield Town next up, the Bees will be looking to strengthen their position in a top half of the table that is becoming increasingly congested.

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Players and fans alike celebrated this one

What a night. What a turn out. What a way to show our neighbours what this Brentford team can do. Three very much the magic number as our third successive victory saw Brentford hitting three goals. This following the 3-2 over Millwall and the 0-3 up at Swansea. Yet to so consistently outplay your neighbours, who missed their own chance to go second, in their own back yard takes special kudos. It was a game played out in a powder keg atmosphere, at least in the away end. The home fans barely mustering a squeak, barring one character with a sombrero, rattle and kazoo, until after the interval when Grant Hall’s equaliser gave them brief hope.

That goal, ironically coming from a corner earned off the back of a quite magnificent save from David Raya, briefly restored parity. Briefly. Ollie Watkins had already given us the lead, heading home a Mbuemo cross in front of the home fans. It was goal that had been threatening and was exquisitely taken. For once, Kelly left with no chance and after that it was only a matter of time and how many. Or so it felt.

Yet despite our domination, noise and attacking intent Brentford couldn’t quite squeeze through for the second. And with Hall rousing the snoozing home support from their own game of library simulator, one did have to wonder what would come next. Rise to the challenge or ‘do a Brentford’? The answer was emphatically the former. 

With little more than the next ten minutes played, the lead had been restored. Mbuemo was felled in the box and referee Andy Woolmer had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. It’s good enough for me.

That man Benrahma picked up the ball and smashed it high and hard into the top corner. Got to be honest that from where we were standing, it looked briefly as though he might have Barbet’d it, such was the height he got. Instead, it was all about technique with the speed and ferocity meaning it got no further than the back of the net.

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View from the stand – there you go. A lead restored.

And what a way to celebrate. What a smile. What a charge, followed by the rest of the team, over to the dugouts where he celebrated with Peter Gilham. We noted yesterday the history lessons installed by our beloved man-with-the-mic. This is why. This is what it meant. To him. To Saïd. To the team. To us. Get in you beauties.

The game continued. So did the pressure. Benrahma playing like a man possessed. He and Ollie teaming up with another of those filthy moments to come ‘that’ close to another goal of the season contender. Pontus Jansson busting every sinew. Screaming at anybody that would listen. Regardless of whether they wanted to. Nørgaard pulling strings in the middle. Mbuemo working the opposite flank. QPR huffing, puffing but doing nothing more than instigate the obligatory fire drill.

Sure, the final ten minutes felt slightly more tense. Purely because the random nature of referees or a flukey deflection, after such a fine Bees performance, could have played havoc on the points front with the margins still so fine. At least, on goals scored. There was no danger though. The fresh impetus added by Jensen and Valencia from the bench giving Brentford that final burst of energy needed to wrap things up. 

Boom. Watkins was there at the death to get his second and our third as the hosts were caught out in their hunt for some reward. Jensen slipping it through to Ollie who made no mistake in his own personal hunt for the Championship’s golden boot. His close range finish takes him to ten for the season already, equalling his highest total for Brentford . And we aren’t even in November. Neal who now?

Brentford are up to 12th but, more importantly, it’s getting tight at the top. Very tight. We’re four points off second place. One more win, and other results going our way, could even see us into the play off zone. Huddersfield Town visit Griffin Park on Saturday in a game that is sure to have a few more people now looking for tickets. That one won’t be easy but that’s a column for another day.

For now, it’s all about the moment. All about going to that horrible, horrible stadium and coming away with yet another win. About laughing at the jealous jeers on social media. About knowing how proud Thomas Frank must be feeling as he has held his head high , despite the nonsense being directed his way in recent weeks, to see his team come out the other side in quite magnificent style. About knowing that we may be a bus stop but West London is OURS. 

Pete Doherty. Mike O’Callaghan. John Storm. Comedian Bill Bailey. Are you reading? Your team took one hell of a beating last night. And it was absolutely beautiful.           

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A bus stop. Last night.

Nick Bruzon