Tag Archives: referee

Bring on the Blades. Time to chop down the Forest

5 Aug

For gods sake… you don’t want to go up Brentford’. ‘Smith out’. Just some of the tongue-in-cheek comments after Brentford crashed out of the play-off zone and down to eighth place as the Championship kicked off in anger on Friday night. A win for Nottingham Forest combined with a point apiece for Sunderland and Derby County saw the Bees overtaken before we’ve even got our boots on. But with the trip to Sheffield United finally here, the moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived.

Of course the table is purely in an embryonic and predominantly alphabetical state at present. Whilst Mark Warburton and his Nottingham Forest team will undoubtedly be pleased with the win that sends them temporarily top of the pile, it is nothing more than a statistical nicety for now. Newcastle United were bottom of the lot with nil points after two games last season and look how that all turned out.

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Forest top the lot. Temporarily, I’m sure

Yet to see things event starting to move around after months of 24 teams showing P 0 has got the spine tingling. Months of Aston Villa topping the lot by virtue of their place in the dictionary over the rest of the Championship. Thankfully, that statistical glitch has been resolved and the normal order of things can start to take hold once more with, for the record, their standard score of 1-1 available at 11/2 this afternoon when Hull City are the visitors. I mention this purely for research purposes.

But we digress. As ever. Today is all about Sheffield United and Brentford. Thankfully Keith Stroud is not in charge – and for anyone late to that party, let’s just say that when our big chance came a few years ago, he saw red. Plus ça change. Regular supporters know the drill at this point so let’s leave that one here. Another rant on his performance won’t help today’s proceedings.

Instead, Stephen Martin is in charge. His own record in 2016/17 was a very healthy 78 yellows from 35 games officiated. He only showed 3 red cards all season – ironically, the same amount as Stroud showed in that one night at Bramall Lane back in April 2013.

Mr. Martin was our own man in the middle just once let time out, as The Bees secured a 2-0 win over Ipswich Town in our opening home fixture of that campaign. John Egan grabbed a brace then but could he do it again today ?

Well, the one thing we can say is that Harlee Dean won’t feature today following his one match suspension that carried over from the end of last season. Given that ban and the injury to Sergi Canos, my own personal selection would be a starting XI comprising: Bentley, Colin, Egan, Barbet, Henry, Mokotjo, Woods, Jozefzoon, Jota, Wakins, Vibe.

Will Sergi be fit? Is Dean able to fit the wonderfully impressive Kamo and player’s player of the season Ryan Woods in the same team? Has Josh done enough pre-season to make it a real selection dilemma? Might we actually be able to hang on to Jota ? Who’d be a head coach? Tough decisions to be made today but what a nice position to be in.

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Jota impressed in the rain against Celta Vigo

As for Sheffield United, they’ll be up for this and then some. Of course, we all know Jack O’Connell and Simon Moore from Griffin Park, but the Blades are so much more than that. 100 points from a League One title winning campaign tells its own story whilst the likes Preston, Burton, of course the Bees and even Rotherham United (for a while) have shown how well teams can do when making that step up.

I very much expect Sheffield United to be in that category rather than joining the likes of Yeovil Town and Doncaster Rovers in bombing straight back out of the Championship and further down the leagues. Boo hoo. Shame. Move along now.

I’m struggling to call this one. The heart says Brentford, both teams to score and a narrow victory. But aswell as strong team we’ll be playing to a packed house and a crowd chomping at the bit for a taste of higher division football. Could the anticipation and expectation work to our advantage? Will it be the proverbial 12th man for the home side? Would we be happy to come home with a point ?

One things for sure, we’ve had three year’s experience playing at this level and at these marvellous stadia. Whomever Dean picks will be key. An obvious statement but he has as many personal decisions as tactical ones to make. The likes of Josh, Ryan, Andreas and Yoann will all be expecting too play. What about ever reliable Nico Yennaris?

Roll on 3pm when we find out. I cannot wait !

And as a foot note, huge congratulations to long time local boy Sir Mo Farah after his stunning performance in the World Championship athletics last night. There can’t be anyone who hasn’t warmed to his infectious enthusiasm and vast determination over the last ten years as he has made scooping gold medal after gold medal look almost effortless. His ‘golden’ post box near Isleworth station on the way through to Griffin Park is a constant reminder of just what he has achieved. Last night was yet another example of his incredible talent.

Nice one, Mo !

Nick Bruzon

Newcastle United share a pain that Brentford know so well as Keith does his thing once more.

6 Apr

Keith Stroud. A name to strike fear into football fans up and down the land has done it again. Of course, at Brentford we are well aware of the card happy man in black’s past form. Now Championship table toppers Newcastle United are the latest club to fall foul of his obsession with random decision making in last night’s game with Burton Albion.

Who could forget the infamous battle of Bramall Lane? Rather than a League One promotion shootout between the Bees and Sheffield United, it was another game that turned into the Stroud show. “The maddest game of football that ever existed” said Mark Burridge after that one as it finished with three red cards shown, four penalties awarded and 12 players booked (8 alone in the first half). That the Bees came out of it with a point,despite playing most of the second half with 9 men, was more down to our own character than any protection from the referee.

It was a game which, to the casual observer, would suggest one akin to the titular battle. In reality it was nowhere close to that, with the hardest fought contest being that between Stroud’s ego and the frustration of both sets of supporters.

Whilst he’s never topped that moment in Sheffield, his name is one that still brings an almost audible wince of negativity (should such a thing be possible) whenever he is announced as a referee for a forthcoming game. His card ratio alone is, season on season, higher than just about any other official to take charge at Griffin Park . The current campaign has seen him show an incredible 171 yellows and sent off 12 players during his 39 games officiated. Only Uber have more bookings than Stroud, it seems.

Then, last night happened. With Newcastle United hosting Burton Albion in a league fixture (a phrase in itself which bears more than a moment’s consideration) they were awarded a penalty. With Matt Ritchie subsequently finding the back of the net for 1-0, Stroud struck. Social media went into meltdown as , for reasons unknown, rather than declaring the goal he chalked it off and gave a free kick to Burton.

This was later revealed to be for what Mr Stroud considered encroachment into the box by Dwight Gayle. Whilst the rules of the game dictate that the spot kick should be retaken in such a circumstance, Keith’s head and the rules of the game are not things that always see eye to eye,

Unfortunately the referee has misapplied the law. Keith and his team are understandably upset at the lapse in concentration and apologise for the mistake,” said a referee’s spokesman afterwards. Hmmm. Sorry about that folks. Imagine the furore had things then turned out differently to the eventual 1-0 home win for Newcastle?

I do feel sorry for Keith in many ways. To give credit, his recent performances officiating for Brentford have, by and large, been relatively restrained with no real controversy. He even changed his mind in our favour upon the advice of an assistant during the recent reverse at home to Wolves.  So we know he can do it. Unfortunately, there are so many games that see the other side of Keith.

The flamboyant flourish of a red card. The turning his back on a player he has just admonished. The random bookings and decisions offered out at a level not seen since Uriah Rennie. Yet he has been allowed to continue unchecked. Nobody has had a word and, instead, he has become almost a cult character. But for the wrong reasons.

People now expect bookings and oddity when Keith is in charge. People go into the game on edge. When he has a good one there’s a sense of relief more than a sense of pride. Season on season his statistics speak for themselves but no real action is taken to reign him in. Football isn’t that consistently dirty a game, except in Keith’s head.

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Keith Stroud – we all know the drill

Equally though, last night bears additional scrutiny. This was no heat of the moment decision. This wasn’t a foul that needed to be replayed in the head. It was a basic rule of football that he got backwards in the most glaring of styles. But what about his assistants? Was no support given ? No advice offered? Or was this a case where Keith’s rule was law?

Let’s be clear, I’d hate to be a referee. Balls of steel and skin as thick as rhino’s are the pre-requisites. With players, journalists and fans all thinking they know better the ref is only ever on a hiding to nothing. He clearly loves what he does although, whilst I’d hate to see any serious sanction as a result, that’s no justification for allowing anyone to run around unchecked.

Will Keith ever change? Unlikely. Will the FA do anything? Expect a week’s demotion to the lower leagues and then business as usual.

Yet, out of all this, Keith may wake up this morning and look himself in the mirror. You never know. Perhaps this will be the catalyst that triggers some self-reflection and a reigning in of Keith the card.

We know he can do it. We’ve all seen him have good games. Why not just go back to being the anonymous man in the middle rather than the reputational nightmare he has allowed himself to become.

Can a leopard change his spots? You never know.

 

Nick Bruzon

Dean gets his wish as Bees prepare for a first trip to Burton.

18 Mar

There’s just 9 games to go for Brentford before a third season in the Championship comes to an end and we’ve something new to look forward to today –  a first ever trip to Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium. With it, a chance to look for another league double with the Bees, of course, having beaten the Brewers 2-1 earlier in the season at Griffin Park.That was a game marked by a wonderful performance from Romaine Sawyers and a brace from the now Aston Villa based Scott Hogan where Brentford probably should have won by more, but were ultimately grateful to end up wth three points in the back pocket and 11 players on the pitch.

Referee David Coote, a man Brentford fans may recall from last season when he incorrectly ruled out Jota’s winning goal at Fulham (for apparent offside) was at it again – this time Hogan the man being denied a third as the man in the middle ruled in favour of a tumbling John Mousinho. Apparently ‘fouled’ as the pair raced clear toward the Burton goal.

Coote gave a display that showed all the authority and decision making ability of White Star Line when they declared the Titanic seaworthy. Even Brentford ‘official’ adopting a rare tone of cynicism, noting in their match report that his “Decisions throughout the afternoon frustrated many of a Brentford persuasion”.

It was a game that concluded with a bizarre moment of handbags as it reached the denouement. Referee Coote  again proving almost incidental to the action as he allowed the incident to escalate to a situation where any of several players, from either side, could have seen ‘red’ . Bees captain Harlee Dean stepping up to a situation where he was eventually surrounded by several irate Albion players whilst their goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin went at Romaine Sawyers like a drunken Morris dancer.

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View from the Braemar – it was full blooded last time out

The good news for Brentford fans being that Coote is nowhere near the Pirelli stadium. He did his thing last night at Bristol City as the home team humped Huddersfield Town, our own conquerors last Saturday, by an incredible 4-0 scoreline. That in itself, a result that sees City rise above Albion in the relegation scrap.

The potential bad news being that Mr Madley is the man in the middle. Although calm down, it’s Andy not Robert (of the infamous performance as Brentford celebrated like they’d won the FA Cup at Leyton Orient. And if you’d like to read more on that…..) who will be officiating today.

And relax.

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On the pitch, Dean Smith has his wish. The no-show against Wolves (let’s just park that one now) saw him saying afterwards that, “After tonight I need a game as soon as possible because I need to put that game to bed. The players are the same: they need the game. They are better that that and they need to go and show that.”

Well Dean, you have your chance. I’ve every confidence he and the team will put things right and return to winning ways. Club sponsor’s 888sport have us at 5/3 to win this match. Whilst, of course, I’m not a betting man even I might be tempted at this price, purely for research purposes.

Can Brentford do it? Will Burton make it three on the spin for the Bees? Defeats, that is. Whether you are following on twitter, Beesplayer or at the game itself, at 3pm we find out.

Enjoy.

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Nick Bruzon

Solitary diamond atop a dungheap of a performance sees Bees devoured by hungry Wolves.

15 Mar

Brentford 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2. Let’s start immediately by saying well played to Wolves and that the points went to the right team. Much as it pains me to say this the visitors fully warranted the points on a night when only one side showed the desire, or the ability, to win a game of football.

We don’t deserve to ‘be any good’ by divine right. We don’t deserve to win every game of football, much as the fans would like it. Yet, by the same virtue, the supporters do deserve to see their team put a bit of a shift in.  Don’t let the Sky video highlights, or the stats, fool you. Wolves ended the game with an apparent 57% possession yet watching on from the sidelines I’d have said nearer 75%. It felt as though we were that much under the cosh, the second half especially.

Dean Smith would note afterwards in his BBC interview that, “That was certainly the worst performance at Griffin Park in my time here. I don’t even think we had a first gear and Wolves were better from start to finish….Normally we out-football sides but we couldn’t pass water.

Ha! Ha! Dean. Very funny. Everybody loves a comedian and, whilst honest, what was the reason your team were so flat? Why couldn’t we break down physical opponents who clearly wanted it? Why did we just sit back to try and ‘absorb’? There was plenty of finger pointing in his interview on ‘official’ Brentford and acceptance of poor performance but what was the reasoning behind us being so far off the pace? Why weren’t our basics good enough? Why were we so outmuscled?

It has been interesting to read Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola talking about his philosophy on the BBC today, ahead of the Champion’s League tie with Monaco. His own take on their situation is a simple one.“The best way [to defend] is score goals,” adding that “when one team scores many goals and you think about just defending, you kill yourself. The idea is to try and attack”.

The Brentford performance was an even odder one because we’ve all seen how good this team can be in recent weeks. I’m not going to slag off individuals. Players have off days but the rest of the group can soak it up. Yet when they all fail to spark, and the manager is unable to motivate them or change it, you get what happened here. It was quite apparent within the first twenty minutes that there was only one side in this. The biggest miracle of the night not being that that we went into half time one up but that we then held the lead right up until the 86th minute.

Maxime Colin’s goal was a thing of beauty. A flowing move (yes, we did have one) culminated in a delightful pass from KK before the full back broke free and shot across the goal into the far corner. Sadly, it was solitary diamond sitting atop an otherwise dung heap of a performance.

Despite Dan Bentley stopping everything that came at him, aided by some last gasp challenges and Nouha Dicko hitting the bar when it would have been easier to score, eventually the pressure told with barely minutes remaining.

Both Wolves goals came from balls down the right flank, crossed  into the box before being tucked home. The second, in particular, was shocking, Having already been reduced to a point by Matt Doherty’s 86th minute equaliser, Brentford then offered Helder Costa the freedom of the Griffin Park penalty box as he was left unmarked to volley into the ground and past Dan Bentley with just seconds of regulation time left.

With it went the chance of the most undeserved of points making their way into Dean’s back pocket.  Game over, man. Game over.

Even George Saville looked vaguely competent. The former Bee actually managed to tackle Jota at one point. Which probably tells you as much as you need to know. This, despite coming in for dog’s abuse on the Braemar Road side about an incident that had allegedly happened around the back of a hotel carpark, in Brentford lock.

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We may have lost, but I’d take Jota over Saville any day of the week

Only Keith Stroud’s assistant, who struggled on manfully despite being an accident waiting to happen with his clearly undone bootlaces, received more flak than Saville, Costa or any other of the players out there. Certainly it was more entertaining waiting for the inevitable ‘stack’ that failed to materialise, despite his steadfast refusal to do anything beyond eventually tucking the loose laces into his boot like a lazy schoolboy, than watching the game.

And talking of Keith Stroud, what of our favourite ref?  The diminutive man in the middle was somewhat restrained by his own reputational standards and had a generally good game. There were a few calls we all felt went the wrong way but that’s football. At one point, he even changed his mind in our favour following advice from the aforementioned assistant. I repeat. He changed his mind in our favour.

Instead, his convoluted prematch warmup routine of stretches, thrusts and synchronised dancing with his assistants was the highlight. Keith even went so far as to delay the prematch photos as he underwent one, final, shuttle run.

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Big bet ; diminutive ref. But a good performance from Keith Stroud

When the most exciting part of the evening was Buzzette dancing (in the most playful of fashion) with our Ealing Road wag, you know it’s one to file in the locker marked ‘painful’ and, instead, hope for some form of retribution up at Burton on Saturday.

Even the post match tweets from the players had a somewhat similar feel. Did Harlee and Sergi compare notes before tweeting? Are they handed these by the media team? Or is it just the ultimate summary of what happened – very disappointing tonight; can only apologise and say thank you.

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Did the players compare notes?

Hey, at least we weren’t offered the chance to go again.

There’s nothing else to say on this one. This was less the proverbial bad day at the office and more one of being put on immediate gardening leave from desk based activity, pending a full enquiry. Instead, we can only put it behind us and await Burton. There’s no way it will be even half this bad.

Roll on Saturday. I certainly wouldn’t want be in Nigel Clough’s position when Storm Brentford approaches.

Nick Bruzon

Fine margins see Huddersfield staying alive as Brentford goal glut runs dry.

12 Mar

All good things come to an end and that was certainly the case on Saturday as Brentford saw their hot streak in front of goal stop with a juddering halt. Huddersfield Town shutting us out (and not just in front of goal, if we’re being honest) as they recorded a 1-0 win at Griffin Park. With Fulham, of all teams, doing them a stonking favour with a 3-1 win up at Newcastle United, there’s everything to play for in the top slots .Good luck to anyone trying to call the two automatic promotion places that the Terriers, Magpies and Seagulls are currently fighting over.

Still, promotion is nothing but a pipe dream for Brentford at present – albeit we have a wonderful chance to still impact the play off race later in the season when we travel to Fulham. Assuming they haven’t choked it by that point.

Instead, our aspirations are more about building for next season and, with safety all but mathematically assured, we’ve been doing this in fine style recently. Brentford entered this game off the back off a goal glut which had seen us rise to the top half of the Championship table. Then Huddersfield paid a visit.

Despite a lurid kit – think QPR with added highlighter pen – and the pressure of David Wagner having been named ‘manager of the month’ the visitors accomplished their sole aim. Win the game to keep the pressure on Newcastle and Brighton.

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View from the Braemar – three points and a lurid kit for Huddersfield Town

Whether it was exhaustion, a terrible display from referee Oliver Langford (who seemed to be set to ‘random’ mode), superior opposition or just a combination of all the above, we were second best on the afternoon. Despite a bright start to both periods, Huddersfield were soon able to control the game and snuff out our attacking threat. Indeed, it was the visitors who had the better chances even if the only way they did find the back of the net was via a combination of a Harlee Dean deflection and Dan Bentley.

It was a shame because the pair of them have been unsung heroes this season. The goals of Scott Hogan and the return of our talismanic Spaniards have dominated the headlines and perception of our team. Yet both Dan and Harlee have more than played their parts and are serious contenders for player of the season, when we look back over the entire campaign.

Things could have been different. Perhaps. Brentford had a bright start to both periods, Jota unleashing a drive from outside the box after three minutes that Danny Ward in the Huddersfield goal had to go full stretch to parry away.

Moments into the second half (the Bees having survived a huge scare almost from kick off) Lasse Vibe was presented a gilt edged chance.

Rico Henry releasing Flo Jo, whose slide rule pass across the box found the great Dane unmarked and Ward flatfooted. Yet instead of stroking it home, he somehow managed to sky it over the bar from eight yards out. In truth, the ball was travelling at him, at speed, yet even allowing for that movement one would still have hoped to see the net ripple. And that, a deflected effort that looped onto the top of the crossbar aside, was as good as it got.

After the game, Dean Smith would talk about fine margins being the difference. In the interview which you can find on Brentford ‘official’, he noted how:  “If the goal is given, if Lasse takes his chance, if the free-kick is given at the end of the game then it is different. Unfortunately we are not getting loads of those calls at the moment.

Was this a thinly veiled dig at referee Oliver Langford? A man who incensed captain Harlee Dean and the entire Griffin Park crowd with a series of odd decisions. Certainly, we’ve been getting the goals (and even penalty calls) in recent weeks. Yet even watching from the sidelines, Dean was more animated than I think I’ve ever seen him before as decision after decision went the way of the opposition. He was less Dijkhuizen and more Saturday Night Fever, such was the way he waved his arms around every time a crunching foul was overlooked.

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Dean channeling his inner Travolta, with Huddersfield staying alive in the promotion race

I’ll be keen to see the official highlights later on today. The 90 seconds served up by Sky (in as much all you need to know about the game) glossed over any refereeing faux-pas. Instead, they are just a chance to remind ourselves about what might have been.

That said, I did find Dean’s assertion that, “I thought that we more than matched them today” a bit of an odd one. Statistically speaking alone, the visitors had more possession, more shots and more goals whilst just looking at the game as a supporter I can acknowledge when we’ve been nullified. Huddersfield weren’t streets ahead but they were the better team on the day, no question. They are where they are for a reason.

Instead, we’ll just have to regroup for Tuesday night’s game against Wolves. Expect personnel changes for no other reason than the amount of games we’ve played in such a short space of time. Again, something Dean alluded to in that interview. Could the likes of KK, Tom Field, Sergi Canos and Josh Clarke find themselves back in the starting XI?

Whoever he picks will have the somewhat dubious privilege of Keith Stroud being the man to wave the cards in that theatrical style of his. Here’s hoping Keith is the restrained man in the middle that we have seen on occassion rather than the Keith of Bramall Lane infamy.

This season his record is 161 yellows and 11 reds in his 35 games. That’s an average of 4.6 bookings per game. By comparison, Mr Langford has 113 yellows and 5 reds over the same period. I’m not sure which is better really, going on yesterday.

Instead, let’s just hope it’s our football that everyone is taking about once more come Tuesday night.

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Keith Stroud – your eyes aren’t wrong. There is NO card in hand

Nick Bruzon

Christmas present from Crystal Palace helps Brentford draw with 12 man Cardiff.

27 Dec

A fair point, lucky to get away with it or robbed? Brentford and Cardiff City shared the spoils in 2-2 Boxing Day draw that sprang to life late in the second half but, prior to that, had been a game which felt as stodgy and bloated as a third helping of sprouts and Christmas pudding. Only the presence of Crystal Palace loanee Sullay Kaikai managing to save the day.

And talking of Christmas puddings (oh, the crowbarring…) referee Simon Hooper was giving out no gifts (the penalty to Cardiff for their opener, aside) as he enraged the Griffin Park faithful, management and players – with Harlee Dean being awarded a yellow card for his (correct) protests at yet another stonewall penalty being turned down.

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Harlee tells the ref what we all think and saw – c/o Beesplayer highlights (below)

It was as shocking a display of refereeing as one could hope to see. Consistently poor decision making as appeals for three nailed on spotkicks were waved away by the man in the middle. But it wasn’t just him.

The assistant on the Braemar Road side  proving absolutely no use in telling him what we could all see. Their existence on the pitch proving pointless which, ironically, was how Brentford were almost left after Cardiff had retaken the lead with minutes on the clock.

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Pointless officials almost left the Bees , erm, empty handed

One point for the visitors would have been harsh, let alone all three. They’d taken the lead in the first half with the one penalty that Mr Hooper saw fit to award, for the most innocuous of innocuous ‘challenges’ (please note: yours, and everybody else’s definition of the word ‘challenge may vary).

Yet if the Bees had been robbed we were hardly making a fight of hauling ourselves back into it. Turgid, apathetic, lazy. Every manner of ’too much Christmas dinner’ related cliche. Any of these would have been an apt description of a team that not so much failed to get going as failed to make it out onto the pitch.

With Cardiff opting to go for muscle , brawn and height there is enough talent in this team to have kept it on the deck and run rings around them. Instead, it was tedium in football form. Bounced off the challenge and as many sideways and backwards passes as attempts to take it forward dominated our play. The first half was, frankly, as entertaining as a Christmas cracker joke.

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Answers on a postcard…

An hour in, substitutions . And good ones. McEachran for Sawyers and Sullay Kaikai for Lasse Vibe. Neither had played well whilst, for whatever reasons, the form of our great Dane seems to have long gone off the boil. How he is still justifying a starting berth is confusing to many but, with the new look team in place, things did step up.

With an added positive substitution of Philipp Hofmann coming on for Bjelland, the Bees began to push. And push. The penalty appeals aside, it was surely going to be matter of time.

And then it happened. Visiting ‘keeper Brian Murphy could no longer hold off the red hoardes as, despite a number of fine saves, he finally saw his net bulge courtesy of a quite magnificent effort from Sullay Kaikai. That’s one to hit rewind for again and again once the official highlights come out (until then, we have the Sky variant available).

Mark Burridge now on hand for ‘official’ comms

But with the Bees pressing for a late winner, we were caught short. Kenneth Zohore beating the last man when played on side and, with a generous shove chucked into the mix, was able to fire the Bluebirds into an 89th minute 2-1 lead.

With fans trooping out early for the pub, and City gloating, it was dead in the water, wasn’t it? Those who stayed were rewarded for their faith. That man Kaikai popping up again to head home John Egan’s cross and salvage a point for the Bees.

We should have won this. We could have lost it. Don’t let the anti-performance of the referee or our late surge disguise the fact that we were so desperately poor for huge swathes of this game. But for the Crystal Palace man we’d have had few complaints, barring the referee, at coming away empty handed.

A team just can’t rely on arbitrary decision making from the man in the middle to determine their fate. Cardiff offered nothing beyond grunt yet even that was too sophisticated for the Bees in the opening hour.

The record books will show a point earned and, in the longer term, we’ll have few complaints. Yet I do wonder why Dean’s teams are so inconsistent and such late starters?  Why can’t we play for 90 minutes? See also : Birmingham City . Why do we just fail to turn up at times? See also: Barnsley, Norwich City and Fulham.

I’ve no issue losing but the consistency, or lack off, is perplexing. We just don’t know which Brentford we’re going to get. Here’s hoping that when we play Norwich City on New Year’s Eve it’ll be the one that humped Reading 4-1 or Preston 5-0 way back in September.

Not the Brentford who got turned over 5-0 at Carrow Road earlier this month.

On Dec 31st, we find out. See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Harlee’s the man as Scott and Romaine bisect Burton.

11 Dec

Brentford 2 Burton Albion 1 . It is a scoreline which, as ever, doesn’t even come close to telling the story of a game that the Bees could have won by more, probably should have won by more, but were ultimately grateful to end up wth three points in the back pocket and 11 players on the pitch.

Referee David Coote, a man Brentford fans may recall from last season when he incorrectly ruled out Jota’s winning goal at Fulham (for apparent offside) was at it again. A display that showed all the authority and decision making ability of White Star Line when they declared the Titanic seaworthy, even ‘official’ noted in their match report that his “Decisions throughout the afternoon frustrated many of a Brentford persuasion”.

And in a bizarre moment of handbags in injury time, his presence was almost perfunctory as he allowed the incident to escalate to a situation where any of several players, from either side, could have seen ‘red’ . Bees captain Harlee Dean stepping up to a situation where he was eventually surrounded by several irate Albion players whilst their goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin went at Romaine Sawyers like a drunken Morris dancer.

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View from the Braemar – Albion seemed agitated

Ah yes, Romaine Sawyers. What a performance from that man. No wonder the opposition were upset. His through ball to release Scott Hogan for the opening goal was quite, quite delicious. If ever you want to see perfection in a pass then here it was. The midfielder taking half the Burton team out of the game with one, exquisitely timed ball that split the defence as cleanly as a if he’d taken an axe to a watermelon.

That Scott Hogan then finished with as cool a finish as we’ve come to expect was almost secondary. Such is the talent of the man and the expectation that surrounds him whenever he gets those runs right, most of Griffin Park (official attendance 9,035 – hmmmm – was somebody counting season tickets?) was already on its feet as he stroked the ball past Mclaughlin.

Even more incredibly, the goal came from a short corner. This is not a drill. I repeat. This is not a drill. Even more incredibly, the goal came from a short corner.

It was a case of same again later in the half as Sawyers repeated his earlier trick. Hogan ran on to it once more, only to see his wonderful lob beat the ‘keeper but bounce back off the post, with the crowd already cheering a second goal.

It would have been a strike to restore our lead as in between, we’d conspired to let Burton back into the game. Instead of turning the screw and taking one of several other chances (see also: Birmingham City), sloppy defending gave the visitors an early Christmas present. Despite our three centre backs, the marking was nothing shy of ‘schoolboy’.

Jamie Ward received a cut back from the touchline and, with nobody in about ten yards of him, was allowed to stroke it home from the edge of the box. Even then, it was shot which the normally reliant Daniel Bentley may feel disappointed to have let squirm over the line.

That said, one couldn’t help but smile at the noise from the director’s box when it went in. Such was the jubilation amongst the visiting dignitaries, who must be enjoying Championship life to the max. Here’s hoping they can continue a journey which, like Brentford, is nothing but wonderful. Who doesn’t like seeing a traditional ‘smaller’ club now given the chance to play with the big boys yet more than holding their own?

1-1 at half time and the visitors still very much in it. Parity didn’t last long though. That man Scott Hogan, again, finding the back of the net from a tight angle 7 (seven) minutes into the half as the rain began to fall.

But if that was skilful, his hat-trick goal was out of this world with yet another beautifully timed run, this time onto a long hoof out of defence. He sprung the offside trap perfectly, left former Bee John Mousinho floundering and rounded McLaughlin to make it 3-1.

Except, of course, he didn’t. Referee Coote deciding that somehow the goal machine had caused Mousinho to fall flat on his backside as the two raced for the long ball. It was a ridiculous decision and one which could have cost the Bees dear. It looked bad live but having watched the highlights c/o Sky (a version of which are also now available on BeesPlayer – below) I’m still not clear as to just what is alleged to have happened.

Oh, for the dulcet tones of Mark Burridge

Instead, we held on with Lasse Vibe and substitute Tom Field (how good to see him back on) also having very good chances late on. And with the dust finally settling on the aforementioned handbags (supporters at least grateful that it was Coote rather than than Stroud in the middle) that was it. Three points for the Bees and a job well done.

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Turner’s pants as visible as his temper during the ‘handbags’

It wasn’t a classic performance but it was a win. Romaine Sawyers gave a quite magnificent two fingers up to the critics (metaphorically so) whilst Scott Hogan continues to astound. That said,  The Bees really should have put the game well out of sight whilst one wonders just what on earth Dean Smith would do without his talismanic striker.

Aswell as paying due credit to Romaine Sawyers, Harlee took to twitter to acknowledge the prowess of the big man up front. When even the club captain is saying this, the message is loud and clear.

Here’s hoping Mr Benham, our co-directors of football and Dean are taking note. It could be a long , painful January otherwise.

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Nick Bruzon

The good, the bad, and the ugly. Bees thumped, Newcastle and Preston see red whilst Jose should be worried. A week in football.

5 Dec

Brentford were spanked 5-0 by Norwich City whilst at the top of the table Newcastle United made it two defeats in a row as Nottingham Forest ran out 2-1 winners. Fellow Championship newcomers Aston Villas also lost, 2-0 at high flying Leeds United, although The Magpies remain six points clear of third placed Reading who also went down 5-0, to Fulham of all teams. Brighton failed to take advantage, a 0-0 draw at Cardiff perhaps a case of two points dropped as the Bluebirds, along with Rotherham United and Wigan Athletic, all remain in the bottom three. With only three teams (Burton Albion, Wolves and Blackburn) between us and that unenviable triumvirate), our own game on Saturday with the Brewers is one of huge psychological importance .

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

Whilst normally we’d start with Brentford, it is a week which has been dominated by the tragic news about Chapecoense. One can’t begin to even imagine what the families of those involved or the supporters of the club are going through with some truly heartbreaking images coming out of Brail. Yet it has transcended even that, with the whole of the footballing world coming together to offer condolence and make whatever gesture they can. Domestic games at the weekend were preceded by a minute’s silence as fans paid tribute to a team that should have been celebrating one of the proudest moments in their existence.

There’s nothing can be said to change how distraught and raw everybody feels. Football is our game – the most popular sport on the planet. We’ve all played it and all had dreams of lifting the cup high into the air. For the vast majority of us, dreams that have gone unfulfilled yet there’s always that thought at the back of the mind. So when something as unexpected and awful as this happens, it really puts everything back into perspective. Social media has been awash with images and tributes whilst mere words can’t even begin to offer any form of solace. Our hearts go out to everybody impacted by this terrible news.

Whilst whatever came next felt somewhat secondary, back in England football continued. As such, our own first stop on the domestic catch up can only be Brentford, where the game at Norwich was one of those which will go down in Bees related infamy. Did one of the senior players swear at the fans as is alleged to have happened (I guess, if so, it would have been labelled ‘passion’ in certain quarters) , why did Dean Smith’s team fail so spectacularly and if we’d been in a ‘blip’ previously, how does he now define our situation?  Certainly, that latter point one which had been hammered home prior to the game.

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Brentford official seemed to be watching the game through rose tinted glasses. ‘A bad afternoon’ being perhaps the understatement of the decade whilst the next day’s video ‘highlights’ ( I’d take exception to that word alone) enraging more than just Bernard Quackenbush.

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Still, things could have been worse. At least we ended the game with 11 players (I mean men. I mean boys) on the pitch. This, an experience enjoyed by neither Preston or Newcastle United. The former having two players dismissed for fighting with each other.

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As for Newcastle United, referee Steve Martin has now brought down the wrath of the Geordie faithful upon himself after showing two red cards in Friday night’s defeat at Nottingham Forest. Except, he hasn’t. Quite A very confused Steve Martin (the comedian of, amongst others,  Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Three Amigos fame) was bombarded with tweets from Newcastle supporters angry at his decision to reduce them to 9 men.

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Elsewhere, a very familiar line was trotted out in regards to Forest’s victory .

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And in our footnote on the Championship for this week, a shout out to Leeds United where supporters were given unintentional comedy gold c/o the match day programme.

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England appointed a new manager in Gareth Southgate. Thankfully, former Brentford boss Terry Butcher was on hand to give his own brand of analysis on that one.

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BBC Billy Reeves is filling his time before a return to match action well. This week, he turned detective to rat out former DJ David ‘Kid’ Jensen.

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Sunday saw more Premier League action, with Bournemouth recording that incredible 4-3 win over a Liverpool team whose lurid yellow kit was the only thing worse than their  capitulation.

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But at least they are well placed in second. Things continue to go from bad to worse for Manchester United. In what seems to be a weekly visit for them to these pages, Leighton Baines grabbed an 89th minute equaliser for Everton as Jose Mourinho’s team emulated Liverpool’s late collapse.

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For all his bluster, Jose might be starting to get worried. His Manchester United points record not one to inspire confidence at present.

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North of the border, there was an early Christmas present for everybody’s favourite mascot that isn’t Buzzette, Patrick Thistle’s Kingsley.

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But we’ll end in the now usual place. Ian Moose and his birthday friend of the week. Which of his good friends from the world of football did the Talksport DJ wish happy birthday to, via the medium of a Twitter post and picture of them together?

This week: George Graham.

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Nick Bruzon

As Birmingham City await, the Bees help give homophobia the boot

25 Nov

Saturday afternoon sees Brentford host Birmingham City in front of what is sure to be a big crowd at Griffin Park. Will the Bees get back to winning ways? Can the Blues continue a run of form which has seen them climb to fifth in the Championship table? Will this one peter out to a draw as two normally tight defences come head to head?

Whatever the result, there is as much significance in matters surrounding the game as there is when Mr Madley (Andy, not Robert of Leyton Orient infamy) puts the whistle to his lips and blows to start proceedings at 3pm. It is Rainbow Laces weekend. A weekend where Brentford  have joined forces with Stonewall to demonstrate that homophobia is unacceptable whilst making it clear that lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are welcome at every level of sport. And with apologies to the club for shamelessly lifting from their own article (which, if you’d like to read more, you can do so in full here in full here) thousands of people across Britain, from fans to players, will lace up this weekend as part of a UK-wide campaign to make sport everyone’s game.

It is an event that I gather the club have been planning since September, Captain Harlee Dean has already been pictured in the promotional photographs whilst the matchday programme features a quite wonderful piece of cover art. Hats off to the club for looking to innovate here. We’ve already had a fan designed front page feature on the award winning edition produced for the Barnsley game but this takes things to another level. Classy art and a campaign that, one would hope, all supporters can give their backing to. Great job to all in the media dept and the team behind the programme.

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This is a subject we’ve looked at before, during ‘Football v Homophobia’ (FvH) month a couple of years ago. It is one that is close to my heart and primarily because prejudice and bigotry are a neanderthal attiude that would, frankly, be an insult to neanderthals. But, equally, for no other reason than for some years now the ever-evolving group of friends I watch The Bees with has included a couple whom, for months, I had no clue were in a same sex relationship. And why would it even matter? For me, it’s all about supporting my team with my friends.

What difference does it make to you? What difference would it actually make if the likes of Sam Saunders, Harlee Dean or anybody at our club were to tell you they were lesbian, gay, bi or trans?  To be quite honest one or all of them might be. I just don’t know. And, frankly, I don’t care. Without wanting to get preachy, an individual’s sexual preference is a relevant to me as what they order off the menu at Nandos (the staple hang out of footballers after training, if social media is to be believed) . I neither know or, more importantly, care.

That isn’t meant to trivialise the issues faced by the LBGT community. Quite the opposite. I just genuinely don’t understand why other people get so hung up about it.

I’ve been coming to Brentford since the late 1970s and, thankfully, unless I am being horrendously naïve, homophobia isn’t an issue that usually rears its head on the terraces. My own son has been joining me at games for three seasons now and I love the fact that we have such an inclusive atmosphere at Griffin Park. If there wasn’t one, we wouldn’t be here.

That said, I’ve personally been witness to the odd incident this season whilst most people with eyes on the game or social media accounts will be aware that this is still a larger issue in football. Just look at the press surrounding the unsavoury build up to this year’s League Cup tie between West Ham and Chelsea.

However, the difference now is that whilst this may have been ‘the norm’ back in the 70s and 80s, people are realising that in the 21st Century it is just unacceptable behaviour. And, quite rightly, they are  pushing back on it. Whether in as simple a form as asking fellow fans to hold back on the language or in a more sweeping statement such as the one made by the club in dedicating their programme cover to raising awareness. It is a wonderful gesture and, certainly, one publication I’ll be looking to pick up in or around the ground this weekend.

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Harlee Dean shows his support

Nick Bruzon

Bees come a sloppy second to Blackburn. Get me out of here…

20 Nov

Blackburn Rovers 3 Brentford 2. The scoreline does’t even begin to sum up a frustrating result after the Bees had taken the lead with barely half a minute of the game gone. That we then conspired to present our hosts with three goals (and no complaints about them for taking their chances – you can only put away what is in front of you) is something out of character with the Bees and hugely disappointing.

Equally, though, with still almost an hour to play at 3-2 down Brentford had plenty of time to salvage something. Instead, the records will show that we managed 3 shots on target all game.

Listen, I’ve no issue with holding up my hands and knowing when we’ve not deserved a thing. Look at our last home game, against Fulham, and then look away fast. There was no creativity and nothing to inspire. At least this time Dean loaded his team for attack, gave Romaine Sawyers a break for the first time this season and it paid immediate dividends. Lasse Vibe releasing Scott Hogan who sprung the offside trap and ran clear on goal to make it 1-0 Brentford after a mere 33 seconds.

Likewise, Hogan’s second, to level things up at 2-2, was the culmination of a beautiful move around the Blackburn midfield that ended with the striker taking his total to ten Championship goals for the season. With parity restored at 2-2 after just a half hour, and headline writers preparing the phrase ‘goal fest’ surely we were back in the driving seat? But no. Sloppiness followed just as sloppiness had preceded.

Sam Gallagher had been earmarked as the man to watch prior to this one but it was Danny Graham who took advantage of the huge holes in the Brentford defence to equalise on the quarter hour. It was marking that would have embarrassed a league two club, let alone a tier two Championship team, and the goal machine made no mistake. Five minutes later, he’d doubled his tally and given the home side the lead from the penalty spot. It looked a pretty innocuous challenge on the TV in what were slippery conditions – just check out the skid marks – but referee Chris Kavanagh had no hesitation and the penalty was dispatched perfectly.

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Bees hit the skids – did snow trail make it look worse than it was?

As for the winning goal though. The tales of Brentford centre-backs putting it past their own goalkeeper are legion. I’m not going to moan at Harlee Dean – the defensive o.g. has happened so many times before and will no doubt happen again. Indeed the biggest crime was even giving the ball away in the first instance, with the Bees in a very safe position on the half way line and taking it forward. Suddenly we were under pressure and paid the ultimate price as the ball was swept into the box.

Those of us watching back home could only mutter under the breath as this one popped up on the Sky Sports scrolly thing. Those of us wearing anoraks could only smile at the thought of Renton scoring in Edinburgh. At least one team displaying a lust for life there.

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The highlights of this one are on Sky now. Alternatively, if you prefer to see whether Mark Burridge and the team can salvage anything from the game, then there are double length highlights on Bees Player now we’ve got past the 12pm curfew.

Is it any better with Mark at the helm?

As for any more of an in-depth report,  regular readers know the drill. The BBC, Brentford official or Beesotted are your places. When even official lead with : Lasse vibe on “sloppy” defeat to Blackburn Rovers then it’s fairly safe to know what you are going to get.

Besides, yours truly wasn’t even allowed anywhere near Channel 5 for the highlights last night, with the remote control having been commandeered for watching Carol Vordeman (who seems to have been rebuilt more than the Brentford defence) and Danny Baker subtly attempting to wind up a daytime TV property ‘expert’.

An act which, if we’re being honest, they largely succeeded at under the watchful eyes of Ant and Dec. If only we’d had such acumen but alas it wasn’t to be. Then again, the thought of Harlee making a meal of pig’s anus or Sam Saunders standing in an oversized fish tank with an eel merging from his shorts are not the sort of images I particularly want so perhaps we park that analogy here, with apologies.

Can there be any positives from that? And by which I mean the Blackburn game rather than ‘I’m a celebrity’… ? Well, you have to start with two wonderfully taken goals. Scott Hogan is now in double figures in the Championship, level with Glenn Murray and just one behind Dwight Gayle at Newcastle United.With the Repulic of Ireland reportedly sniffing around, he is very much the ‘man of the moment’ in the Championship. January could be stressful..

Equally, at least, we can sleep that bit easier knowing that the media team won’t be dusting off the #Novemberkings moniker which was so cringe worthily chucked around during our first Championship season.

Beyond that though, it is a case of slim pickings. On a snowy day we weren’t even granted that rare treat of an orange ball. Instead, the mid-winter yellow version is deemed sufficient and I fear that really could be it now for this nostalgic favourite. Unless, of course, the FA Cup can produce something magical.

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Is the combination of snow and orange ball now a thing of the past?

So what next for the Bees? A win would be nice, for one thing. That wonderful victory over QPR has been our only real bright spark in a 7(seven) game run that has otherwise seen four defeats and two 0-0 draws.

Tablewise, we are now just into the bottom half. Five points shy of the play-off zone and six ahead of the basement clubs. With Blackburn, Wigan and surely doomed Rotherham United (already 11 points and vastly inferior goal difference off safety) still occupying those places, that’s not even a situation worth contemplating .

Yet, equally, complacency won’t win you games or keep you up. Look at Newcastle United last season. And Aston Villa. No club is too safe or too big to go down. Keep losing and that’ll happen. Not anything to worry about for now, that’s for sure, but a swift return to winning ways will be a good thing.

As the interview with Dean Smith on Brentford official noted:

Next Saturday The Bees return to Griffin Park to host Gary Rowett’s Birmingham City with Dean saying that he wants to see a response after consecutive losses.

“Next week’s game takes on extra importance because, after back to back defeats, we have to bounce back,” said Dean. “

Never a truer word and so important it had to be mentioned twice..

Nick Bruzon