Tag Archives: round

A historical hat-trick awaits in the League Cup. But which way?

19 Sep

We’ve a return to league cup action tonight with Brentford looking to put what management see as the bad luck but wonderful performances in the Championship behind us and reach the fourth round of this tournament.  If so it would, incredibly, be just the third time ever. Standing between us and, even more incredibly, a draw that will take place at a normal time on a normal channel (Sky Sports news , following the Manchester United v Burton tie) are Norwich City. But can we get past the Canaries to reach a place we’ve been to only twice before ? For the record, 1982-83 and 2010-11 : losing at Nottingham Forest and Birmingham City respectively.

Well, if ever there was incentive to go for it then it has to be tonight. Putting aside our previous form in this tournament, victory would see us into the last 16 of a trophy where the unfancied teams have, historically, had a little bit more success than in the FA cup. Who could forget Bradford City (of league 2) getting all the way to the final in 2012/13 after beating Arsenal en route, Swindon lifting the silverware in 1969 (agasint Arsenal) , Luton doing the same in 1988 (also: Arsenal) whilst the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool have lost to lower league opposition on more than regular basis.

Yet for Brentford to find themselves in Wednesday night’s draw with a chance to do the same, first there is the small matter of Norwich City. It would be fair to say that last season’s Championship fixtures were amongst the most disappointing of all those games we played. Coming amidst a woeful run for both teams, the Bees didn’t even attempt to dial in performance as we were thrashed 5-0 at Carrow Road in early December. It was the proverbial game where we lucky to get nil and, it would be fair to say from anyone who had the misfortune to sit through it, that this really was one of the low points in an otherwise exciting season.

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So bad at Carrow Road last season that 1 on 3 outside the box became a penalty and 2-0

It was a performance only matched in the return fixture at Griffin Park on New Year’s Eve. That one finished 0-0 in a game where both teams were lucky to get nil. Even the prospect of sneaking out early to watch Mrs Browns Boys and Jools Holland bringing Roland Rivron out of cold storage for the annual ‘hootenanny’ seemed tempting at one point. Well, it didn’t. Nothing is that bad but this game did run it awfully close.

Yet from that point the Bees exploded into form. Despite rumours of Scott Hogan’s departure we started to get the wins and the performances in. The FA Cup against Chelsea aside. That one was less Mrs. Brown’s Boys and more Len Goodman’s Partners in Rhyme (and if you haven’t seen that one yet then please, don’t. Bad doesn’t even begin to describe it. Think budget level Catchphrase on acid with Len channeling the worst of a bad dad wedding speech).

Hogan even managed a goal against Birmingham City before injury his buttocks, apparently, and finally moving to Aston Villa.

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Mrs Brown. If December was bad, NYE wasn’t much better

Could we emulate the same tonight? Could the cup help motivate a Championship campaign where despite the efforts of the team and the self-belief of our head coach, results are not going as one would hope. Could this be the perfect fillip going in to Saturday’s bottom two clash with Bolton Wanderers? Reaching the fourth round, let alone a tie with likes of Manchester united, Arsenal or even Birmingham City – that latter one for more reasons than you could shake a stick at – would produce a fantastic buzz around Griffin Park at a time when perhaps it may come in handy.

Personally, I’ll be happy just being able to watch a fourth round draw without the need for an intravenous drip of double espresso (with an s, there’s no x . Restaturants, try using a dictionary) to help me through the night.

But for that to happen then we need to win tonight. Given we’ve only done this twice before in our entire history then let’s not take anything for granted. Indeed, I saw a stat yesterday (thanks to Jonathan Burchill on twitter) that said we’ve only even reached the third round three times. Burnley (1960) and then who else but Norwich City (19968 and 1991) as the teams to halt our progress.

Either way there’s going to be a historical hat-trick tonight. Will it be our third trip to the fourth round or a trio of Canary infused defeats at this stage?

At 7.45pm, we find out. See you there.

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Espresso for the draw? Give me expressb. Or preferably just Sky

Nick Bruzon

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As Chelsea look ahead to the fifth round and Liverpool, why Brentford will cause the mother of all upsets.

28 Jan

Saturday morning. 8.15am. The (now) ‘lucky’ tinfoil FA Cup from the 5-0 victory in the third round has just come out of storage whilst over on the TV Captain Barnacles, Kwazi and Peso are having another underwater adventure. That’s HB, not me, watching Octonauts and oblivious to the fact that today’s decreed ‘naughty team’ (a title bestowed upon anybody to line up against Brentford), are none other than Chelsea – the current Premier League leaders and one time Champions of Europe.

Oh yes. Its FA Cup fourth round day and Brentford go into this one with absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. We’ve been written off by just about everybody already whilst our own fans have, genuinely, no idea if the club’s leading scorer and one man goal machine, Scott Hogan, will start, be on the bench or have received a phonecall from his agent advising him that a buttock spasm has returned or his hamstring looked a little tight in Friday’s training.

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Just what is Scott’s number?

Nobody expects us to do it today. Mark Lawrenson and his team of guest pundits A.dot (no idea) and Adele (not that one ) from BBC radio have all tipped us to lose without scoring. Even the most tight fisted of bookmakers has us at 11/1 to win; the most generous 18/1. Chelsea, on the other hand, are 2/11 to win . Understandably so, given their wealth, their talent and their excellent start to the Premier League campaign. Chelsea lead the table by a country mile and specialise in clean sheets.

The nightmare of 2015/16, where José Mourinho proved less than ‘special’ as he lead the Blues to the edge of the relegation zone before being dismissed half way through the campaign, now seems as distant as it was unlikely. Only their failure to qualify for Europe in a season when even Spurs reached the Champions League group stages serving as a reminder of how much they had slipped last time out

Yet despite the calibre of our opposition there is room for massive hope and massive optimism. With games against Liverpool and Arsenal (genuine titles contenders and Arsenal, respectively) in the coming week you can expect an element of squad rotation. A Tuesday night trip to Anfield, where the home side will be looking to reel in the league leaders, must surely be seen as more of a threat and priority? Could an unfamiliar line up have trouble in making a cohesive unit?  With many changes predicted,  we are already boosted by the news that one man brick wall Thibaut Courtois has been replaced by ring rusty Asmir Begovic between the sticks.

There’s the atmosphere factor.Brentford sold out all 6,000 tickets within two days. nom matter what your views on the sale technique employed, expect there to be nothing but deafening noise from the Shed End. And that’s just when David Luiz puts in any form of appearance. Nobody in TW8 has forgotten about Jake Reeves.

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Nobody has forgotten…

What about the magic of the cup ? It was only two years ago that League One Bradford City humped Chelsea 4-2 at this stage of the competition. At Stamford Bridge. This, despite going 2-0 down in 38 minutes and playing against the likes of Cech, Drogba, Cahill, Oscar, Hazard and Fabregas – amongst others.

Then of course, we’ve our own recent fourth round encounter with the Blues. 2013 saw us hold Chelsea 2-2 at Griffin Park and for the entire first half of the replay until, eventually, form told.

Whilst they are few and far between we’ve had our own share of giant killing over the years. Sunderland, Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers are the names that spring immediately to mind whilst had we just conceded four goals less and scored one at Anfield then we’d have beaten Liverpool and reached the 1989 semi-final.

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

Yet, for me, the most telling sign for optimism are the Chelsea fans at work who, to protect their identities, we’ll simply call ‘Andrew’ and ‘Dave’. They go into this one knowing they can’t win. Apart form on the pitch. If Chelsea do manage to get past us it will be what everybody expected. But if Brentford do what I genuinely expect, there will be nothing but a very sheepish journey into the office on Monday morning and bragging rights secured for the next few months.

That alone is reason to go for it today and I can’t wait. however you travel – tube, bus, Routemaster or even on the river cruise – be safe and have fun.

But most of all, come 3pm let’s be loud. Very loud. There’s a fifth round draw to look forward to. And Brentford WILL be in it.

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The lucky cup has been touched by Buzzette. What better omen do we need?

Nick Bruzon

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

6 Jan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surely…..

See you there.

Nick Bruzon

Who will be celebrating like they’ve won the FA Cup?

9 Jan

FA Cup third round day. Unquestionably THE highlight of the calendar for me. With Brentford due to entertain Walsall, last night’s 2-2 between Exeter City and Liverpool reminded us just how exciting this oldest of cup competitions can still be whilst simultaneously higlighting the perils of picking an under strength team.

Watching Liverpool struggle as they were outplayed by Exeter showed, yet again, that much clichéd entry onto the FA Cup bingo card of ‘David v Goliath’ with a generous sprinkling of ‘cup magic’ on the side. As seems the fashion these days, Jürgen Klopp rotated his squad but almost paid the ultimate price for over tinkering.

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Exeter still have a chance of a trip to North London

So was Dean Smith watching and has he taken heed? If today isn’t in the realms of David v Goliath – Walsall are simply too good to be patronised with any sort of underdog tag – it represents a huge potato skin for the Brentford Head Coach to try and navigate. The Saddlers are flying high at the top end of League One and haven’t allowed our acquisition of their former manager to disrupt the promotion push.

Understandably, feelings on social media suggest this is still somewhat of a sensitive subject and I have no doubt that a sold out away following will make their presence, and feelings, heard. Which is all well and good but I fancy full strength Brentford to give anybody, in any division, a run for their money.

However, with this being the much discussed first of 3 games in 6 days, not to mention the various transfer stories doing the rounds, just how ‘full strength’ will, or can, Dean go?

Well, outside of left back we have viable candidates in pretty much every position. We’ve been promised the strongest team possible but it could swing as much as follows:

Bonham, Bidwell, Yennaris, Dean, O’Connell, McEachran, McCormack, KK, Saunders, Gogia, The Hoff.

Personally, I think we can expect to see all three transfer targets rested and the likes of Sam and Macca given a full run out. The changes won’t be as extreme as highlighted above but, equally, I’m just the numpty on the terrace rather than any part of the club ‘inner circle’. At the end of the day (Clive) this is all pure conjecture.

One thing I can be sure about is that, as Liverpool discovered last night, you under estimate anybody at your peril. A lesson that Marinus learned the very hard way in the Capital One Cup humiliation by Oxford United. Certainly, Walsall will be no different and would absolutely love it, Kevin Keegan style, if they could get one over Dean and the Bees.

Whatever the result, today also sees a chance for two of those other cup traditions to raise their heads. And they don’t come any bigger than the tin foil trophy.

The regular reader will know I absolutely love this ritual and despite my age – 45 going on 5 – will be knocking one up later this morning. Fortunately, a last minute decision to switch from turkey to beef for Christmas lunch means we have a surfeit of Bacofoil in the kitchen drawer – much to Mrs. Bruzon’s chagrin.

Well fret no more, Mrs. B. 10metres of the shiny stuff should be enough for a decent effort, And if it’s good enough for Des Lynam then who am I to argue?

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Des prepares for the final , back in the day

Second up – ‘other jobs’. TV producers love a ‘minnow’ ™ as it means they can trot out that list of the part-timer’s daytime occupations. “Somehow he manages to fit in training three times a week and a game at weekends with his job as a postman/plumber/firefighter(delete as applicable)”.

All being well this is a situation Brentford will never find themselves in and so one aspect of footballing life that we’ll not have the chance to experience. Much as this makes me a very happy man, a little part of me also wonders…’what if?’. Sam Saunders aside, who we all know used to work on the Underground as an electrician before joining Dagenham, I’m pretty sure the rest of the squad have parachuted directly into football.

Indeed, terrace talk has switched to this very subject at times as we’ve questioned what jobs our team would do if, hypothetically of course, an examination of the books and subsequent financial collapse saw us reborn in the Evo-Stik League Southern as part-timers AFC Brentford.

Well, here’s the answer. Or, at least, one take on it which of course is all just a bit of fun. Sam is in our team, although has moved on to bigger and better things. It’s based on nothing more concrete than a bit of banter and I’ll ask you indulge me formation wise – for no other reason than technological ineptitude meant this was the best way to crowbar it all together.

On the flip side, could we have stumbled across Dean Smith’s starting line up for the afternoon? See you at 3pm when we find out.

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‘Problems’…. ‘Solved’

Nick Bruzon

Be careful what you wish for…..

7 Nov

As Brentford gear up for Saturday’s FA Cup clash with Staines Town, I have a massive case of ‘foot in mouth’.

Last weekend this column featured, amongst other things, a lament for the death of the snowy weather ‘orange ball’, replaced by the new Mitre high viz yellow creation. It was another nail in the coffin of footballing tradition, so I thought.

However the FA Cup, that bastion of footballing romance, has ridden to the rescue. Kind of.

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.

Marcus Gayle – “It’s like going home to see your Auntie and Uncle”

6 Nov

I love the early rounds of the FA Cup.

As Brentford prepare for this Saturday’s game with Staines Town  – the battle of Middlesex as some have dubbed it – everyone is getting excited. Primarily because winning at the weekend takes us that bit closer to a potential tie with the Premiership ‘big boys’ in the third round.

Youngsters all over the country (and me) are raiding the kitchen cupboard for the roll of tin-foil to make that FA Cup staple – the Heath-Robinson style home made replica trophy.

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The home made FA Cup – Bacofoil share process are sure to surge in January

TV producers are already preparing their lists of the non-league player’s ‘day time jobs’ – A bonus point for every time you hear, ‘In the day he’s a ….plumber, milkman, postman, electrician.

And local journalists are looking for those tenuous connections between former professionals now plying their trade in the lower leagues as players or, equally, those with a link to the club they are now playing against.

It won’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out the man of the moment on Saturday. You’d have to be living on the moon not to realise that the Staines Town manager is none other than former Bee Marcus Gayle. Over the course of his two spells in the Bee’s first team, spanning the eighteen years from 1988 to 2006, Marcus represented the club in three separate play off semi finals and has a 91/92 Champion’s medal in his collection.

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.