WIGAN ATHLETIC 0 BRENTFORD 3

Stewart Purvis was at the DW stadium for Bees’ fifth away victory so far this season.

It is getting to be a habit. Three goals scored away for the third game in succession. And this one achieved without Said Benrahma who missed the trip north because of a slight injury to his hamstring. In his place a first start for Joel Valencia arriving from Ecuador via Spain, Slovenia and Poland. For Wigan there was a place in midfield for Lewis Macleod, so far injury free on his one year contract after leaving Brentford.
Earlier this week Thomas Frank ventured out to the Red Lion at Barnes, the latest home of the Beesotted podcast, and told Billy Grant, Dave Lane and the crew that this season our attacking set pieces have been ‘a disaster’ for which he took responsibility.
Five minutes into this game, and with a new set piece coach Andreas Georgson watching, two good chances went begging from a Josh Dasilva corner as Christian Norgaard first headed straight at keeper David Marshall then failed to follow up the rebound. But fortunately Bryan Mbeumo forced the ball over the line.
Inspired by this early goal Brentford began to boss the game with great interplay in midfield and Valencia showing extraordinary pace in attack and defence,
The giant match up of the day was Pontus Jansson of Sweden (6 ft 4) against Kieffer Moore of Wales (6 feet 5) and no surprise Pontus was the winner. His acrobatics even appeared to have prevented a goal with a clearing kick on the goal-line but the Wigan move was judged to have been offside anyway.
Cheered on by 500 Bees fans, reinforced by club chairman Cliff Crown in the wind and rain of the away end, Brentford saw out the first half with minimum fear of an equaliser. But in the second half the number of unforced mistakes multiplied, too many passes went astray and a Wigan team that deserved little was gifted chances. So much so that with half an hour to go it looked as if Brentford would struggle to keep the lead. However in the 70th minute some nice approach work by Dasilva put the Wigan defence under pressure. The ball fell to Kamo Mokotjo who was not having a great game but he struck the ball perfectly for Brentford’s second goal of the game and the fifth of his Bees career. 
Three minutes later Ollie Watkins- who was battling away in the air and on the ground showing a wide range of striker skills- got past central defender Cedric Kipre who brought him down and earned a second yellow. Brentford were heading for victory but now they began to pick up cards too. Norgaard’s fifth yellow of the season means he misses the Reading game. 
Jan Zamburek came on for the injured Valencia and the 18 year old  Czech midfielder who was a makeshift right wing sub against Huddersfield was on the left this week and brought new energy where and  when it was needed. 
Brentford put the game beyond doubt with a super strike by Josh Dasilva. It wasn't the usual Dasilva curl out of the reach of the keeper, more of an arrow to the top left that the keeper never even saw. Behind him at the away end the Bees fans spilled down the terrace to celebrate with Josh and their other heroes. 
Sadly the game ended on a sour note.There was a collision between two Wigan players and Dominic Thompson on as sub for Rico Henry.Wigan’s highly-rated England 17 year old Joe Gelhardt, said to be ‘choosing between Liverpool and Everton’ ended up prone on the pitch. The sub had apparently collided with the hip of Kieffer Moore. It seemed nobody was to blame but Julian Jeanvier, who was at the heart of the melee with Millwall that cost £14,000 in FA fines, felt the need to get involved in a tussle.
As the medical staff carefully moved Gelhardt onto a stretcher referee Andy Davies hovered worryingly close to Jeanvier. Fears that a straight red card was on its way were justified and the Guinea international defender heads off to play for his country knowing that he won’t be back in Brentford colours for a month. With Ethan Pinnock, Mads Bech Sorensen and Luka Racic more than happy to step up in his absence Jeanvier  may regret his rash intervention. Gelhardt went to hospital with his mum and apparently was speaking in the ambulance. Afterwards Thomas Frank said Jeanvier ‘needs to learn from this situation so it doesn’t happen again’. Apart from that Frank was ‘a very happy man’ that his team had won three away games in succession for the first time since April 2016. He welcomed the international break as a chance for Said Benrahma and his cover Joel Valencia to recover from their injuries. 
The final word goes to Tony Pulis, now a TV pundit, for whom Brentford ‘now are in the Championship what Leicester are in the Premier League’. 
 

Wigan Athletic: Marshall, Robinson, MacLeod (sub Windass) , Morsy, Lowe, Sterling (Fox) Jacobs (Gelhardt) Moore, Williams, Kipre, Dunkley
Brentford: Raya, Henry (Thompson), Norgaard, Watkins, Mokotjo, Dasilva, Valencia (Žambůrek) Jansson, Mbuemo (Jensen) , Dalsgaard, Jeanvier

 

 

BRENTFORD 0 HUDDERSFIELD TOWN 1

Bill Hagerty sees the Bees edged out with a sloppy performance that ended a three-match winning run

 

Huddersfield-born Harold Wilson, twice prime minister in the second half of the last century, is credited with commenting 'A week is a long time in politics'.  How true, as recent events have shown, but as those faithful followers of Brentford’s fortunes in the club’s last season at Griffin Park might wryly observe, three weeks in football seems interminable for those shackled to the topsy-turvy world of the Championship. 

Victors over Millwall – three goals in a blissful final ten minutes – Swansea City and Queen’s Park Rangers suggested that Thomas Franks side was finally on the up. Huddersfieldhaving put together a useful unbeaten run that lifted them out of the relegation zone, proved otherwise. Suddenly, the Bees are on the down again. Such are the vagaries of the game.

Brentford started well enough and after ten minutes or so a flash of Said Benrahma magic and his hastily blocked shot signalled what looked like the establishment of a marked superiorityThe Terriers’ defence (interesting fact: the first of that famous Yorkshire dog was bred in the Huddersfield area) looked stretched and at the other end if was half-an-hour before David Raya was required to do more than contemplate what might be on the menu for supper.

Frenetic and untidy, the game had little to offer in the way of spectacle other than Julian Jeanvier’s shocking pink boots, sadly reflecting some of the alarming passing that soon crept into the home side’s repertoire. 

Into the second half and a Benrahma shot that sped past keeper Kamil Grabara like a bullet, only to fly wide, and another effort, set up by a superb Ollie Watkins’ back flick, was saved. The visitors looked rattled and when new manager Danny Cowley made defensive adjustments from the bench it seemed they were concentrating on securing a point.

How wrong can one be? Round about the hour mark, a chain-reaction of defensive blunders saw Karlan Grant plunder his ninth goal of the season with a low shot beyond Raya’s reach. The home crowd, until then busy with chants of ‘Thereonly one Alex Pritchard’ in warm welcome for the former Brentford favourite currently languishing on the visitors bench (and destined to remain there)now urged on a Brentford attack that had been spluttering like a defunct firework.

Could Watkins, already ten goals in credit, rescue a point or two? No, as couldn’t Bryan Mbeumo, as busy as a worker ant but quicker, or even Benrahma, although during the six minutes added he bamboozled Grabara into starting a dive one way, only to brilliantly change direction to keep out the shot. 

That shut the door at the Last Chance Saloon and so Brentford reoccupthirteenth place in the division table, while Huddersfield continue an admirable resurgence by moving up to eighteenth.

Yet despite the on and off, but mostly on, swirling rain, the afternoon had begun so promisingly for all presentThe home crowd and a packed visitors’ enclosure behaved impeccably during a Remembrance weekend salute to the brave players and other staff of either club who gave their lives in two world wars. 

A minute’s silence, with not a peep from the 11.727 fans present, was flanked by the playing of The Last Post and then Reveille’ by a military musician resplendent in full and handsome uniformMost moving, it was, and many a tear was shed, although not necessarily the volume of weeping prompted by the sporting let-down of the following ninety minutes.

My mate Charlie, not known to mince words, doubtless spoke for many when he delivered his verdict. ‘RemembranceNo offence, but when it comes to the football, this was one to forget.

 

Brentford: Raya, Dalsgaard, Jansson, Jeanvier, Henry, Mokotjo (sub Valencia Castillo) Norgaard,Dasilva (Jensen)Mbeumo (Zaburek), Watkins, Benrahma.

Huddersfield Town: Grabara, Simpson, Elphick, SchindlerBrown (Hadergjonaj), Bacuna(Chalobah), Hogg, Kachunga, O’Brien, Grant, Campbell (Diakhaby).

 

QPR 1 BRENTFORD 3

Greville Waterman reports on a night to remember for 2,482 Bees fans at Loftus Road.

 

The lot of a football fan can be a frustrating and thankless one but every so often a night comes around which more than makes up for all the poor performances, soakings in the rain, sleet and snow, long expensive journeys and the lottery of referees’ decisions.

This was such an occasion as the Brentford fans floated home on air after a convincing win at their old enemy QPR.

Brentford swiftly came out of the blocks and their quick one-two’s and excellent use of the ball soon tore vast holes in the porous home defence, lacking the injured Agent Barbet, which is yet to keep a clean sheet this season.

Dasilva’s rapier-like through pass gave Mbeumo a clear sight of goal but the excellent Kelly outguessed him and made an athletic save low down to his right.

Then a glorious 15-man passing move, which went from one end of the pitch to the other, culminated in Benrahma and Norgaard combining to set Mbeumo free and his dinked cross found Watkins lurking in space between the two ponderous centre halves and his header gave the Bees a fully deserved lead. A goal to savour.

Thomas Frank’s game plan worked to perfection before the break as the forwards pressed high up the pitch and the tireless midfield trio of NorgaardMokotjo and Dasilva tacked and harried and also used the ball cleverly and creatively when the opportunity arose. Benrahma too was a box of tricks and coming back to his best.

Raya was largely untroubled and the Bees went off to the raucous cheers of their supporters after an exceptional first half performance.

"Keep it tight for the first few minutes of the second half and we will silence the crowd” was the thought going through my mind and probably that of every other Bees fan but the game turned on its head as Brentford turned sloppy and gave the ball away straight from their own kick off. A succession of soft corners and free kicks followed, Norgaard was booked for dragging back Eze and the home crowd woke up and became interested again.

Wells forced a wonderful flying save from Raya but Brentford’s respite was brief as Eze’s corner was headed in powerfully and on the bounce at the near post by Grant Hall with his impotent marker, Rico Henry, being cynically blocked off.

Surely QPR who would have gone second with a victory, would go on to win but the Bees held firm and then on the break Watkins’s low cross was only half cleared and Mbeumo went to ground after a challenge by Scowen. Finally the Gods smiled down on us as referee Woolmer awarded what was at best a dubious penalty kick. Fitting justice too for Scowen – a real master of the dark arts who somehow escaped a yellow card during the game.

Benrahma seized the ball to no complaints this time and his fulminating spot kick, reminiscent of Kevin Pressman for Sheffield Wednesday against Wolves (look it up on YouTube) raged into the top corner of the net. As we celebrated wildly behind the goal Said ran to embrace Peter Gilham on halfway – a nice touch.

QPR now had to chase the game and here is where the influence of Mark Warburton became evident. Had Ian Holloway or Steve McLaren still been their manager, Brentford would have doubtless been subjected to an aerial bombardment and might well have wilted under the pressure. Now Rangers passed the ball carefully and quickly from side to side, a mini-Brentford in the making, searching and probing for an opening that thankfully did not come. Eze, Chair and Samuel are real footballers and it was almost a delight to watch them weave their pretty patterns.

Kelly saved well from BenrahmaDasilva and Watkins on the break but our hearts were in our mouths when Raya, otherwise faultless on the night, unaccountably dropped a simple cross that thankfully fell to Jeanvier who hoofed it clear.

Four interminable minutes of injury time were almost up when the ball fell to Valencia who held it up well and Norgaard passed it to Jensen who strode into the area without challenge and set the ball up on a plate for Watkins to score with the last kick of the match for his tenth goal of the season.

This was a famous victory, our third in a row, which cements our drive towards the playoff zone. It is also our seventh win in the ten meetings with QPR since our promotion to the Championship.

The Bees own the bragging rights in West London – and nobody can deny it!

 

Queens Park Rangers: Kelly; Rangel, Hall, Leistner, Manning; Cameron (sub Mlakar), Scowen; Eze, Chair, Osayi-Samuel; Wells

Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Jeanvier, Henry; Dasilva (Jensen), Nørgaard, Mokotjo; Mbeumo (Valencia), Watkins, Benrahma 

 

 

SWANSEA 0 BRENTFORD 3

Stewart Purvis saw a memorable away win at the Liberty Stadium.

 

All the Bees’ Swansea nightmares last season- a potential cup victory thrown away and two league games where we conceded in the first minute-were banished as Brentford stormed to a back to back win that promises so much for the rest of this season. 

In his starting line-up Thomas Frank had made the change in midfield that many fans were calling for, Josh Dasilva replacing Mathias Jensen. And with Nikos Karelis unlikely to be seen again this season with the leg injury he got against Millwall, it was back to Ollie Watkins up front with Said Benrahma on the left and Bryan Mbeumo on the right. For the Swans Jake Bidwell, chunkier looking than most of us remembered him at Griffin Park, was at left back.

At the start it was the new Brentford midfield line up that caught the eye with Dasilva showing the confidence to stride forward, Christian Norgaard playing his best game yet and Kamo Mokotjo contributing some crucial touches.

But in truth most of the early chances fell to Swansea thanks to Kristoffer Peterson on the left who was tormenting Henrik Dalsgaard. In this Scandinavian battle it was the Swedish international coming out on top against the Dane. Fortunately none of the crosses which Peterson, once a Liverpool under-21, put over were converted.

A Brentford counter attack after one of these Swansea raids led to the opening goal. Norgaard fed it to Mokotjo who put Watkins away with a beautiful pass. When Ollie ran into traffic it was again Kamo who picked the right pass, this time to Benrahma who had the time and space to launch one of those dipping shots we know so well that land in the top right corner of the net. He then ran over to Thomas Frank for a big hug.

Both sides were making occasional mistakes in defence but Swansea made the biggest of the night when a Brentford attack that was probably running out of steam got an unexpected boost when Bidwell intervened and put it past his own keeper.

‘Jake Bidwell,he’s one of our own’ sang the 215 Bees fans in the away end.

Two-nil to the Bees at half-time and the Swans were booed off by the home crowd which struck even diehard Bees fans as a touch tough. 

As the second half developed Dalsgaard got Peterson under control, the central defenders were dominant in the air, Swansea were making lots of mistakes in midfield and Benrahma was starting to show off his skills up front.

But it was the other wide player, Mbeumo, who got the third with a rocket of a shot after a run to the edge of the box. ‘Is it Bidwell again?’ tweeted one wag from home.

There was then a piece of pure Benrahma theatre as he spectacularly flicked the ball round an opponent, took the return ball from Watkins and set off for goal curving his shot just inches wide of the post. Another candidate for what would have been a goal of the season if it had gone in. When he was substituted even local fans were spotted applauding. 

With ten minutes to go the question was not so much would Brentford win- the chances of Swansea doing to Brentford what the Bees did to Millwall were slim- but would they keep a clean sheet. A succession of missed Swans chances, principally falling to Andre Ayew plus some excellent saves by David Raya ensured the answer was ‘yes’. 

At the end there were embraces all round including one between Thomas Frank and CEO Jon Varney. It had been a great team performance by the Bees as they moved into the top half of the Championship,their natural home for the past few years. Frank said he couldn’t praise the boys enough. Indeed, everybody had contributed something positive. And who's to say that this line-up can’t do even better despite running on nearly empty in terms of reserves up front. 

 

Swansea City: Woodman; Roberts, Rodon, van der Hoorn, Bidwell; Fulton (sub Byers), Grimes; Ayes, Dhanda (Celina),Peterson; Baston  (Surridge)

Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Jeanvier, Henry; Dasilva (Jensen), Nørgaard, Mokotjo; Mbeumo (Valencia), Watkins, Benrahma ( Žambůrek)

 

 

BRENTFORD 3 MILLWALL 2

Bill Hagerty sees the Bees come alive just in time to snatch victory in a bad-tempered brawl with London rivals

 

That was the best ten minutes we’ve played all season,’ said a Bees fan in front of me as we left Griffin ParkA pause followed, and then, ‘But don’t talk about the other eighty!’

 

Most perceptive and stylishly put. Yet there are times when games, especially games like this, need a little more explanation before they are filed under the ‘You couldn’t make it up’ category in the brain’s memory bank.

 

Let’s deal first with those largely unimpressive and increasingly disappointing eighty minutes.

 

Resplendent in the commemorative kit of blue shirtsand slightly baggy but fetching white shorts worn by the side in the club’s first season at Griffin Park, Brentford looked handsome indeed as they set out to deal with Millwall the same way they had in 1904 (winning 2-0 in a Southern League fixture on October 22, since you ask).

 

Said Benrahmasparky from the start, had a shot saved by Bartosz Bialkowski before Nikos Karelis – the Greek international getting his initial first-team start since joining the Bees – beat Bialkowski only to see the ball rebound from the far post. (This might have been considered a bad omen for the home supporters who feel he could be the answer to the team’s goal deprivation; they were right to consider it an omen as we were soon to realise.)

 

Brentford were on top in an unhurried bordering lackadaisical way, but the first sign that this was not a wholly coordinated unit was, when awarded a penaltyan unseemly squabble about who should take it between leading scorer Ollie Watkins and BenrahmaWatkins won and promptly had his shot blocked by Bialkowski.

 

Watkins then set-up Karelis, who inexplicably lobbed to ball into an empty space, rather than choosing to test the keeper on loan from Ipswich. And then the Greek international’s bad luck really did catch up with him as he was stretchered from the action following a calamitous fall.

 

Things couldn’t get worse, it seemed, but they could. Substitute Bryan Mbeumo barely had time to join the proceedings before the visitors were aheadDavid Raya only parrying a low shot from Jayson Molumby leaving Tom Bradshaw to take care of the rebound.

 

And when, five minutes into the second half, what appeared to be a Watkins’ equaliser was denied for offside, and then the Brentford striker was yellow-carded for a foul in his own area  Jed Wallace gobbled up the penalty opportunity  it seemed that the game was up.

 

‘How sh*t must you be if we’re winning away?’ sang the gleeful Millwall followers, eliciting no reply from a Brentford crowd stunned into almost sullen silence.

 

Whether it was astute management skills or sheer despair that prompted Thomas Frank to make two significant substitutions  Josh Dasilva for Christian Norgaard and Joel Valencia for Matthias Jensen we’ll never know, but retrospectively they look like strokes of genius. Valencia quickly took a grip in midfield, leaving Dasilva free to roam forward. Suddenly the rare chants of ‘Come on Brentford’ sounded more like encouragement than a plea.

 

So into the final ten minutes, with Benrahma tormenting a defence suddenly confronted with a side that at last knew what is was doing and remembering how to do it. Dasilva provided a glimmer of hope with a perfectly-placed drive to beat Bialkowski and then, with the late afternoon sun properly illuminating Brentford’s renaissance, Mbeumo unleashed a cracker of a shot that nudged the woodwork before deceiving the keeperUnerring accuracy or a welcome fluke?

Who knows? Who cared?

 

Into the four precious minutes of time added and a mounting atmosphere that must have warned the visitors that this wasn’t going to end well for them. Benrahma – rightly elected man of the match – worked his magic once more and there was Watkins to snap up his eighth goal of the season from close in.

 

A collective gasp of disbelief laced with abject gratitude swept the Ealing Road end; the grim display prior to Dasilva’s goal was, it seemed, forgotten by the time the sound of the final whistle arrived, possibly from heaven. It might have been winning the FA Cup that the team was celebrating as Millwall – their supporters vocal supremacy now totally muted – trudged off towards the dressing rooms.

 

A little unfair, I observed to my mate Charlie, as they probably deserved to take something from the game– it’s hard to imagine, overall, when the Bees last played so badly.

 

‘Nineteen-o-four?’ suggested Charlie.

 

Brentford: Raya, Dalsgaard, Jansson, Jeanvier, HenryJensen (sub Valencia Castillo) Norgaard,Mokotjo (Dasilva), Watkins, Karelis (Mbeumo),Benrahma.

Millwall: Bialkowski, Romeo, Hutchinson, Cooper, Wallace, Wallace, Molumby (Bodvarsson), Williams, Ferguson, Thompson, Bradshaw.

NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1 BRENTFORD 0

Stewart Purvis sees Brentford fall again to a single goal in an away game.

Three seasons ago Brentford beat Nottingham Forest 3-2 at the City Ground in a wonderfully exciting evening game with Sergi Canos setting up a brilliant breakaway winning goal. 
This weekend Sergi, yellow carded for arguing with an official, limped off with a leg injury leaving Brentford with just ten men to try to grab an equaliser against Forest. You couldn’t blame Sergi who had struggled on maybe longer than he should have.
But the contrast with March 2017 told you everything you needed to know about this game and the thousand Bees fans who made the trip returned home downcast. 
Facing his squad’s third game in seven days Thomas Frank rang the changes with Bryan Mbeumo in for Said Benrahma and Mathias Jensen replacing Kamo Mokotjo.Surprisingly Brentford were the favourites to win with the bookies.
Forest were led by Ben Watson who once scored the winner for Wigan against Man City in a Cup Final. How long ago that feels. And it’s even longer, 2009-10 to be precise, since John Bostock had 9 games for Brentford on loan from Spurs. He’s now on the Forest bench after a global tour in search of a settled home that’s taken him to Canada, Belgium, Turkey and France.
Brentford seemed to have one strategy in the Bees playbook in the first half and they used it to the almost total exclusion of any other. Rico Henry, playing more as a left wing back than a full back in this adaptation of 4-3-4, scampered up to Mbeumo who sometimes passed to Dasilva and occasionally had a shot. There were precious few returns from this policy as half- time approached. Then in the last minute of first half added time Brentford got a free kick 30 yards out. Jensen struck the ball against the wall of defenders and a deflection sent it in the opposite direction to the way Forest keeper Brice Samba expected. With great agility he changed course and managed to beat it away. It had been Brentford’s best chance of the game and it remained that way for the rest of the match.
That’s because in the second half the ‘Run Rico Run’ plan ran out of steam even when Benrahma joined him, subbing for Mbeumo. And again there were too many of the usual characteristics of our away form this and last season-Boro and Barnsley apart- so many mIsplaced passes and too many corners and free kicks that don’t beat the first man.
This time even the much improved defence - Pontus Jansson was again Bees Man of the Match, but in a low poll- lost out to a set piece. A careless back pass led to a Forest corner on the right. It was back headed at the front post then front headed at the back post and fell to Ben Watson in the middle of the box. Two weeks ago he got his first goal for Forest, now he doubled his goal tally by smashing the ball past Raya.
Brentford’s response was, frankly, dull. Yes there were chances of a kind as the Bees attempted to convert their much vaunted ‘expected goals’ rating which has them in fourth place rather than the 19th they now occupy in the real world. Thomas Frank referred rather sarcastically afterwards to ‘this very smart expected goals’.
My own very home made stat of the day was that during the 21 minutes Nikos Karelis spent on the pitch as a sub striker I counted that he only touched the ball twice and one of those was a pass which accidentally hit him on the back. That’s not a criticism of the Greek striker but an indication that the midfield are just not threading enough through balls to the central striker whoever he is.
Forest, who were tidy but never dominant, held out easily to move to second place in the Championship. At the end Thomas Frank was asked if the team had lost some of their vim and vigour’. He said his team ‘maybe lacked that bit of extra freshness and quality of the day’ . Let’s hope they get it back during the international break before Millwall, conquerors of Leeds, come to Griffin Park on the 19th October

Nottingham Forest: Samba; Cash, Worrall, Chema, Ribeiro; Sow (sub Adomah), Watson; Lolley, Silva, Carvalho  Ameobi); Grabban (Mir) 

Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Jeanvier, Henry; Jensen (Karelis ), Nørgaard, Dasilva (Benrahma); Canós, Watkins, Mbeumo ( Mokotjo)

BRENTFORD 1 BRISTOL CITY 1

Stewart Purvis was among the biggest midweek crowd for 14 years who saw the Bees fail to hold on for a win.

What do you do when you arrive at your usual seat in Griffin Park to find Thierry Henry sitting in it. Shout ‘Thierry Henry stole my seat’? Maybe politely ask the people with him if they are in the right row. Fortunately this was enough to move the Arsenal and France legend into the right place in the Braemar Road stand. Suddenly everyone around spotted him and was asking ‘why exactly is Thierry Henry watching Brentford?’.
We then turned to the other  big issue at Brentford : are we better with 3 centre-backs plus 2 wing backs or the traditional four at the back. There was to be a sting in the tail that left us not much wiser about that too.
The Bees started with 4, Jansson and Jeanvier flanked by Dalsgaard and our own Henry, young Rico. Josh Dasilva replaced Mathias Jensen in midfield and Kamo Mokotjo kept the place he’d won at Barnsley. But this was not to be Kamo’s game, he was strangely quiet and was subbed in the second half. 
Most of the opening action was on Brentford’s left flank with Henry making lots of bold runs and Said Benrahma linking well with him without creating many clear cut chances. Sergi Canos ended up on the left too as he chased and retrieved an over hit corner but the Bees attack couldn’t force the ball home. 
For the second home game running David Raya prevented a goal when he faced a one-on-one attacker, this time it was City’s Kasey Palmer who was through after Rico Henry made a big mistake in the centre of midfield.
But in the second half it was the other goalkeeper, Daniel Bentley returning to Griffin Park, who was at the centre of the action. In the 56th minute Bees fans saw the worst then the best of their former goalie. He dropped a deflected cross, the ball fell to Christian Norgaard who struck it well only to see Bentley fly to the right hand corner to push it wide. There was more of Bentley to come later.
Brentford pushed on and Dasilva picked up a pass from Dalsgaard in his favourite spot, just outside the right hand corner of the penalty box. Regulars knew what was coming next, they remembered it from the B team game against Malmo, they’d seen it repeated at Millwall, probably Bentley knew too but could do nothing as the shot curled round him into the corner of the net. Cue wild celebrations. ‘Bentley,Bentley what’s the score’ sang the Ealing Road choir. 
Jensen who’d come on for Mokotjo was moving the ball around better and the Bees were calm as they defended their lead. Which is more than could be said for Bristol’s Jack Hunt as he retaliated against a Canos tackle with a sweep of the arm that sent the Spaniard cascading into the front row of the Paddock. Both were booked which seemed a bit rough on Sergi. Bentley consoled his old team mate.
Two minutes later Canos was subbed and on came Ethan Pinnock to strengthen the defence. It all seemed very sensible at the time but it just may have cost us the full three points. With less than 5 of the 90 minutes left to go, Dasilva did something silly on the right touch line. He tried to make a clever back heel pass when he could have let the ball run out. It gave possession to City who moved forward and struck a cross into the heart of the Bees penalty area. Extraordinarily there were three Bees centre backs on the pitch and none of them was anyway near Andreas Weimann as he headed past Raya. Henry was seen to be having words with Dasilva afterwards.
At the other end Bentley was making lots of good saves to stop Brentford from grabbing a late winner. When the game ended the former Bees keeper exchanged applause with the Ealing Road crowd and hugs with his old teammates.
Thierry Henry had slipped away into the night on the 77th minute, missing the equaliser but revealing that he was looking for a coaching job. Good luck to him.

Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Jeanvier, Henry; Mokotjo (sub Jensen 69) , Nørgaard, Dasilva ( Mbeumo); Canós (Pinnock ) Watkins, Benrahma

Bristol City: Bentley; Hunt, Moore (Eliasson) Williams, Baker, Rowe; Brownhill, Massengo ( O’Dowda) ), Semenyo (sub Diédhiou) ; Weimann, Palmer 

 

 

BARNSLEY 1 BRENTFORD 3

Donald Kerr was one of the 366 Bees fans who survived the wind and the rain and came home from the trip to Oakwell to find, yes it was true they hadn’t gone mad, Brentford had won:

 

It was Albert Einstein that was credited with defining madness as the practice of doing the same thing repeatedly with the expectation of a different result each time. As we approached  Oakwell for our next away gamestill expectantly, despite having witnessed only three wins in over 40 trips  it was tempting to debate whether our determined and indomitable travelling fans, many like your reporter who have been to all of them, were not betraying more than a trace of insanity. Maybe this time it really would be different. 

After no more than one minute, that seemed like a forlorn hope. Like a horrible action-replay of Preston, the opposition started with more energy and seemingly more drive, and we were still finding our feet when Woodrow blazed the ball into the corner of the net. Easier to judge probably if watching on TV with the benefit of replays, but it appeared that we failed to adapt as quickly to the very quick wet surface, failed to close down the opposing midfield and paid the price. 

All the talk when the team had been announced was the replacement by Kamohelo Mokotjo of Bryan Mbueno and the change in formation to a back four with Henrik back to his favoured position with Sergei Canos ahead of him on the right. In truth, the extra man in midfield didn’t make much difference in the first frantic 25 minutes. Both teams were guilty of giving the ball away, Brentford more guilty than Barnsley, and although we grew into the game steadily, the best chance prior to our equaliser fell to the home team, as David Raya rushed out, missed the ball and watched gratefully as Pontus Jansson deflected the resultant shot past the post  

The conditions were atrocious but both teams tried to play the ball on the ground. In the past few weeks, we have seen teams like Charlton and Birmingham sit on a one nil lead and put 10 men behind the ball. Barnsley perhaps without the same experience and quality of those teams, couldn’t frustrate us in the same way, and, from their corner we broke quickly. Said Benrahma holding the ball up, passing to Matthias Jensen, who crossed a delightful ball on to Ollie Watkins’ head and into the net. From that point till the end, Barnsley were never as dangerous as in the first quarter of the match. We should have scored another when Ollie broke through, hit the post, hit the ricochet against the bar and watched as Said failed narrowly to hit the rebound on target. 

The momentum at the end of the first half was picked up immediately at the start of the  second, and, in hindsight, though we weren’t to know it at the time, the early goal effectively ended the game as a contest. Brentford took over completely and their growth in confidence was in sharp contrast to the growing desperation of the opposition. An optimistic claim for a penalty against Henrik was followed within a minute with the third Brentford goal, following a period in which we had spurned one or two golden opportunities to score, most notably when Canos was free on the right and tried to beat the goalkeeper when a simple cross would surely have given Ollie an earlier hat-trick

Let’s hope that Mathias Jensen, replaced instead of Mokotjo, is not too badly injured. And that Nikos Karelis as his fitness improves will prove a worthy challenger to Ollie for the centre forward role. It was heartening to hear the home crowd applaud as Ethan Pinnock’s name was read out at the start and again as he came on late in the day to further frustrate a tiring Barnsley side. 

This game was full of positives. Everyone had a good game but the most encouraging signs were the strong performances of Norgaard and Jensen, the composure and growing familiarity of Watkins in the centre forward position, and the fact that Said had, as one fellow supporter said,”really got his mojo back”. He had a great second half and ran the hat trick hero a very close second for man of the match. We need to weigh the quality of the opposition into any judgement of what this result means for the next few games. We also need to remember that we thought the win at Middlesbrough and the win against Derby were, in turn, indications that our league campaign had started in earnest. But in constant driving rain, on a ground where we had failed to win in the Championship before, this was a welcome away victory. We weren’t so mad after all. 

For supporters of clubs like our own, that are covered less frequently on TV than others, there is often some apprehension of the scrutiny of the cameras. It is almost as if the likelihood of defeat is somehow greater because others are watching beyond those in the ground. After all, it’s impossible to tell your non attending friends that we were unlucky or that the performance was good despite the result, if they’d watched it themselves on the telly. Even when we’ve won when Sky have covered the game, I still find myself asking the armchair viewer ‘how did we look on TV’ as if, having watched it live, I was unable to judge for myself. In this instance, though, I have the feeling that, after a bad start, we weren’t quite as bad as I thought in the first quarter, and that we were very good to watch in the second.

 

Barnsley: Collins; Cavaré (sub Thiam); Halme, Andersen, Williams; Sibbick; Brown, Mowatt, Chaplin (Schmidt), Thomas (Wilks); Woodrow.

 

Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Jeanvier, Henry; Jensen ( Dasilva), Nørgaard, Mokotjo; Canós (Pinnock), Watkins  (Karelis), Benrahma.

 

 

 

BRENTFORD 0 STOKE CITY 0

Considering he is the goalkeeper in a team down in the bottom third of the Championship David Raya has had a remarkably quiet season so far. Game after game he has had little to do apart from pick the ball out of the net as -no fault of his-Brentford concede a crucial goal.
But this weekend it was Raya who with one brilliant save ensured that Brentford at least picked up a point rather than lose a game they could have won.
The Bees started with an unchanged line-up from the one that beat  Derby but lost at Preston. There was a debut on the bench for Nikos Karelis, the Greek striker signed as a free agent after the transfer window failed to provide a replacement for Neal Maupay. For Stoke’s Brentford alumni Scott Hogan was an unused substitute but Ryan Woods didn’t even make the trip. 
After the first 45 minutes Brentford FC tweeted ‘Not an awful lot to report after the opening 45 minutes’ which was a bit hard on Sergi Canos who, in his now regular berth at right wing back,created a number of chances. One was a classic Canos slalom run which began on the right and ended up on the left wing. He also had a shot blocked.
In midfield Christian Nørgaard, who’d done little of note since the pre-season game against Dynamo Kiev, was also prominent, looking for the out ball from defence, linking the play and even winning possession with rugged tackles. But when a Bryan Mbeumo cross fell to him in prime position in the box he looked rather startled and headed wide.
After half an hour Ollie Watkins was through on goal after turning Stoke’s Liam Lindsay but was called back because it seemed he’d accidentally caught the central defender in the eye. Lindsay, a colleague of Ethan Pinnock at Barnsley last season, had to be subbed as he went off for medical treatment.Watkins had another chance when he nearly beat Stoke keeper Jack Butland to the ball but got clattered in the process.
In the second half it was again Canos on the right making ground and getting in crosses but to no effect, Mbeumo heading wide and Said Benrahma either having his shots blocked or blazing wide.The Algerian would later be booked as his obvious frustration got the better of him.
With half an hour to go Thomas Frank brought on Karelis upfront and Watkins moved alongside him on the right.. When Canos failed to pick out the Greek striker in a good position in the box Sergi ran over and embraced him in apology.  In midfield Kamo Mokotjo replaced Mathias Jensen who’d had a quiet game.
Now Stoke began to get chances, Raya made one good save on the line and then came the crucial moment in the 82nd minute. Pontus Jansson gave the ball away on the edge of the box and Nigerian international Oghenekaro Etebo was through with only the keeper to beat. It looked odds-on for a goal that would win the match for Stoke. But Raya pounced with extraordinary speed at Etebo’s feet and grabbed the ball. The Braemar Road crowd gasped in appreciation. He was voted Man of the Match.
Karelis could have won it for the Bees on his debut from yet another Canos cross but Thomas Frank then banked the point by replacing Canos with defender Josh Clarke, making a rare and welcome appearance.
Brentford had been the more aggressive but had got no reward for that from referee Andy Woolmark. Stoke’s point, only their second of the season, pulled them off the bottom spot  and probably kept manager Nathan Jones in employment for another week. Now Brentford go to Barnsley, just one place above Stoke, still searching for what Thomas Frank calls the ‘momentum to get the engine going’. 
Apart from the defensive clean sheet there were other plus points for the club; this last season at Griffin Park continues to draw good crowds,(the official attendance for this one was 11,870), before the game there was the moving sight of ten year old Munsimar Singh, a victim of racism, leading the teams out in Brentford  kit as a mascot alongside her sister and father and on the 28 minute there was applause in memory of Rob Rowan and in support of fund-raiding for the CRY charity.
 
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Jeanvier; Canós (sub Clarke) Jensen (Mokotjo), Nørgaard, Henry; Mbeumo, Watkins (Karelis), Benrahma

Stoke City: Butland; Edwards, Lindsay ( Batth ), Carter-Vickers, Martins Indi, McClean; Badou; Ince (Campbell), Etebo, Clucas; Gregory ( Vokes 78)

 

PRESTON NORTH END 2 BRENTFORD 0

Stewart Purvis was at Deepdale for another frustrating away trip:

After the high of the home win against Derby it was back to square one with the  Bees struggling again to find the answer to an attack minus Maupay and a midfield without Sawyers. 

Head coach Thomas Frank chose an unchanged team with Sergi Canos staying at right wing back. Noticeably new striker Nicolaos Karelis was judged to be not ready even for a place on the subs bench. His Championship debut may be a few weeks away yet.

For Preston Sean Maguire and Thomas Barkhuizen, who PNE fans feared might not be fit to play, started up front and within minutes had an impact. From the kick-off Brentford barely got out of their own half let alone into Preston’s box as wave after wave of attacks rained down on the Bees. The almost inevitable chance came in the fourth minute when the third corner in as many minutes wasn’t cleared properly and an unmarked Maguire turned it past David Raya. 

Somewhat surprisingly Brentford had the better of the rest of the first half. On the left, Said Benrahma, in his 50th game for the Bees, linked up well with Ollie Watkins but the chance came to nothing. Then two clear chances fell to Bryan Mbeumo on the right. Canos was creating a supply line of through balls to Mbeumo but twice the French forward, returning from scoring in an under-21 international, lost control. However these chances masked the problems in midfield where Frank was persevering with the Danish duo of Christian Norgaard and Mathias Jensen but to no great effect against the pony-tailed Daniel Johnson. But overall at halftime the stats reflected a balanced game which many fans felt the Bees could go on to win.

As it turned out the Bees didn’t get better. Benrahma got himself in regular rows with Preston defenders, Mbeumo was tiring and Watkins just wasn’t getting the service he needed to keep up his goal tally. Half-way through the 45 minutes Frank switched formation going to four at the back with Mokotjo reinforcing the midfield and Canos moving forward to replace Mbeumo. It didn’t work. Five minutes later Pontius Jansson tried one of his characteristic back headers to his goalie. It went awry and Raya and Dalsgaard challenged each other in the air to clear it. The ball eventually fell to Darnell Fisher who was unmarked on the right and he crossed for a simple tap-in by Barkhuizen.

Another reinforcement of midfield muscle came with Josh Dasilva replacing Jensen but there was no way back into the game for the Bees. Canos was less effective upfront than he had been at wing back and when Benrahma did break through once he was brought down by a stiff right arm across the throat. Preston defensive sub Brad Potts, with the physique of a rugby forward, got into regular tangles with Rico Henry and the game fizzled out with barely a Brentford chance. 

The 579 Bees fans were left wondering whether Derby had been even worse than we thought, creating a flattering and false impression about Brentford’s chances of moving up the table. The Bees are 18th while Preston moved up to 5th. Next up for Brentford a home game against Stoke who after seven matches have only one point. 

 

Preston North End: Rudd; Fisher, Bauer, Davies, Rafferty; Browne, Ledson (sub Gallagher ); Bodin (Harrop), Johnson, Maguire; Barkhuizen (Potts)

Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Jeanvier; Canós, Nørgaard, Jensen (Dasilva ), Henry; Mbeumo (Mokotjo 65), Watkins, Benrahma

 

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