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Are points in the bag better than games in hand?

19 Mar

Brentford fans must feel like they are dreaming this morning after Wolves made it one point from the last six following last night’s shock defeat at Crawley. It was a result that few saw coming (myself included) and, following our own win over Leyton Orient on Saturday, has lifted spirits even further.

The proverbial ‘favour from other teams’ is all well and good but don’t forget that, as it stands, Wolves are still top of the table. That’s a fact. They are a point clear (effectively two with their gargantuan goal difference) and so still the team in the box seat.

Brentford, of course, have the ultimate destiny back in our own hands but Wolves have the points advantage. The two clichés in football I probably find have some actual resonance are, firstly, ‘The League is a marathon not a sprint’ (see Bournemouth last season) but also ‘Points in the bag are better than games in hand’.

Having to play that ‘one off’ game can bring its own pressures and this was no better illustrated than last night. The psychological advantage of getting a win when your rivals aren’t playing is immense – if you can get it right. Hand in hand with that goes the extra pressure of knowing what said win will do – as was illustrated last night with the game effectively turned into a mini cup final.

Wolves manager Kenny Jackett gave a very honest press conference afterwards, saying that the game “passed us by and that is a big frustration, particularly when it is one of the games that we have in hand” (perhaps Russell Slade should take note on how to speak to the media after a defeat).

As big a frustration for me, as a Brentford fan, was trying to keep track with the game. Although ‘Beesplayer’ does give access to every commentary (a very handy function, IF it works) mine seemed locked on the Charlton match. So, instead, I was stuck with the BBC ‘live text’ updates on their 21st century videprinter.

Its not an easy way to watch a game due to the torturous update speeds and generic descriptions as to the action.  Last night’s game seemed to consist of efforts from 35 yards but were these the sort of ‘fizzing pile-drivers to test a goalkeeper’, Adam Forshaw style? Or were they hopeless punts from distance that had less chance of going in than a Miguel Llera set piece?

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If anything, he hit it too well….or did he??

Watching a game on the BBC is a great way of knowing what is happening, if you are a fan of factual football. However, as a way of getting that genuine ‘gut feel’ as to who is on top and how things might turn out, then it is about as much help as Robert Madley.

Still, even I couldn’t fail but be moved to excitement by what happened just after the mid-way point of the first half. It began, ironically when you consider how many games Crawley have lost to the weather, raining goals.

Then it stopped. And the torture of waiting began.

But…. We all know the final score. Wolves remain top and, although the bookies still make them favourites for the title and promotion, Brentford have control back.

Coventry on Saturday will not be an easy task whilst I have no doubt that League One will throw up more than a few surprises before the season ends.

I’ll happily accept any gift from another team but, ultimately, it counts for nothing if we can’t do it ourselves. Fortunately, I have every confidence we will.

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Wait 24 minutes for a goal, then three come along at once