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

 

BRENTFORD 3 DERBY COUNTY 0

Bill Hagerty sees the Bees click into top gear to register their first home win of the season

 

Having peppered Charlton with 21 unconverted shots at what became an unhappy Valley last Saturday, Brentford must have been determined to go one better. Here they did exactly that, amassing a count of 22 shots and going three better when it came to scoring. 

It was the first time in this League term that Thomas Frank fielded a side that from the off looked a cohesive unit brimming with ideas and vitality. Derby, disappointing and resembling little lambs lost in the wood rather than bighorn Rams on the rampage, seemed hardly to know what hit them.

 

Said Benhrama, making his first start and tormenting the visiting defence at every turn – there were plenty of those to flummox the back four – was only partly responsible for lifting Brentford’s spirits and performance level. 

 

Ollie Watkins was a commanding presence whenever charging through the middle, while Bryan Mbeumo, unable properly to find his feet in earlier games, suddenly realised they were on the end of his legs and had a game that promised much for the future. One goal and an assist to his name comprehensivelyif belatedly, announced his arrival and by combining menacingly with Watkins evoked memories of a similar partnership Ollie enjoyed with Neal Maupay. 

 

Good news indeed, as was the return of Benrahma. Despite running low on energy and being replaced towards the end, he showed signs of regaining the form that made him a target for some Premier League clubs during the transfer window. Let’s hope they haven’t noticed.

 

Sergi Canos, the busiest of Bees, went close soon after the off, drawing a splendid save from Kelle Roos, but it was the new Watkins-Mbeumo team that delivered after 17 minutes, Ollie’s shot being only parried by the keeper for Maupay’s replacement to pounce. A minute later the roles were reversed, a flowing move ending with Mbeumo providing a square pass for an unmarked Watkins to score easily.

 

The confidence positively oozed from Brentford and Derby’s defending became increasingly frantic. Benrahma unleashed a shot that made Roos’ fingertips tingle, Rico Henry ballooned a shot over the bar and then, just before the break and to nobody’s surprise, Brentford increased their lead, Watkins firing his second shot home after the first had rebounded from a defender in a packed Derby box. 

 

A much tamer second period saw chances missed – Watkins very nearly completed a hat-trick when his neat lob was not quite neat enough to avoid the onrushing Roos – and Canos and the inspiring Dalsgaard tormenting the visitors from the flanks. Only in midfield was there a deficiency, which Thomas Frank attempted to address with substitutions. He has yet to find an ideal pairing there.

 

With an international break next weekend, nine of the first team squad will be engaged on behalf of a handful of different countries. Of the victors over Derby only David Raya and Ollie Watkins have not been selected to represent their countries at some level of football during their careers but if Watkins continues to bustle and bruise defences and can snap up more chances – four goals this season so far – he could soon be joining the international brigade.  

 

After the match Dutch Derby coach Phillip Cocu described his team as ‘arrogant’, but their lack-lustre showing indicated more problems than unwarranted hubris. Last April a feisty Rams required Brentford to come from behind three times in order to gain a point at Griffin Park. The departure of Frank Lampard, rewarded for his inability to get promotion via the play-offs by being appointed head coach at Chelsea, seems to have left a side riddled with insecurity.

With not one shot on target throughout the ninety minutes and a defence that opened up like a can of sardines, one can’t see why Cocu picked only on a conceit unnoticed by anyone else, I said to my mate-of-few-words in the next seat.

‘Double Dutch?’ ventured Charlie.

Brentford: Raya, Dalsgaard, Janssen, Jeanvier, Canos, Jensen (sub Mokotjo, NorgaardHenry, Mbeumo (Zamburek), Watkins, Benrahma(Valencia). 

 

Derby CountyRoos, Lowe, Keogh, Bielick, Buchanan (Holmes) Knight, Huddlestone, Dowell (Bennett), Marriott (Patterson), Waghorn, Lawrence.

 

 

CHARLTON ATHLETIC 1 BRENTFORD 0

Stewart Purvis reports on how Brentford's first London derby of the season was another away disappointment.

Presumably one day there will come a game, maybe one which Said Benrahma and Kamo Mokotjo are fit enough to start and a 'recognised' striker is up front, when Brentford not only have more posession and shots but also score and win.Thomas Frank says 'everybody knows it will turn around'. It won't come soon enough, especially for loyal supporters like the 2,250 Bees fans at the Valley. 

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LEEDS UNITED 1 BRENTFORD 0

Stewart Purvis joined the 408 Bees fans who travelled to Elland Road hoping for the best but slightly fearful of the worst.

Brentford held out for 81 minutes against a super fit and fast Championship team before yielding to two subs on loan from the Premiership whose pace created a winner.

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