BRENTFORD 2 WIGAN ATHLETIC 0

Bill Hagerty sees a brace of Maupay goals as Wigan wilt and Brentford romp into second place in the Championship

 

A comprehensive defeat of Wigan, second place in the Championship table and two goals from Neal Maupay that propelled him to top the list of the division’s leading scorers – so what’s not to like? Well, Wigan for a start. What a disappointment to see, for the second home fixture running, a side short on ideas but long on panicky aggression that here resulted in the dismissal of midfielder Sam Morsy. 

Morsy’s late challenge on Yoann Barbet that saw him violently head-butt the French defender only minutes after he and Maupay, another Frenchman, were admonished for a bad-tempered scuffle, Morsy’s robust attentions having been considered well out of order by the Bees’ striker. What Morsy has against the French is unclear, but his second bout of red mist almost guaranteed that the visitors would hit the road back to Wigan Pier with nothing to show for their efforts other than one red card and collective red faces.

But that’s enough about the Latics – short for Athletic, in case you were wondering – other than to recall their manager Paul Cook’s post-match acknowledgment that Brentford were ‘the best team we’ve met this season by far’. There’s an honest man. They certainly were something special, delivering patches of magical football that bamboozled the opposition and thrilled the home supporters (a crowd of only 9951? What do the Bees have to do to attract a larger following, tap dance?).

Maupay, as speedy and fearless as a terrier, shook off within minutes of the ignominy of a three-match suspension and a severe wigging, twice going close and bringing out the best of talented goalkeeper Christian Walton. 

(Watching from the sidelines was Will Grigg, a striker whose two-season stay at Brentford a few years ago was unremarkable, but who has since earned plaudits at MK Dons and now Wigan. Will Grigg’s on fire? Not today, he wasn’t. ‘Will Grigg’s on the bench’, quipped my mate Charlie.)

With Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma causing the visiting defence all sorts of problems and Ezri Konsa, Chris Mepham and Henrik Dalsgaard – the last two returning honourably from international duty with Wales and Denmark respectively – solid as concrete at the back, a goal was considerably overdue when an exchange between Lewis Macleod and Said Benrahma ended with a cross that quicksilver Maupay summarily despatched for his sixth goal in what for him has been a five-match season.  

And it was that man Maupay again soon after Morsy’s departure from the pitch, smacking the ball into the roof of the net from close range after the beleaguered Walton had blocked a deflected Barbet shot. There was almost more anguish for Wigan when Macleod hit a thunderbolt from way outside the box, only for Walton – solely responsible for preventing the scoreline looking like that in a one-sided table-tennis match – soaring to tip it over the bar.

Notwithstanding Walton’s heroic goalkeeping performance, should the Bees have scored more? Undoubtedly. But the delivery of bouts of text-book football show what formidable opponents for any side Brentford are in what so far is an uplifting, smile-on-the-face season.

Meanwhile, Wigan must have been thanking their lucky stars and the indefatigable Walton for not having suffered a more humiliating defeat. ‘Sweet revenge for them beating us at Wembley in the Freight Rover Trophy final,’said Charlie.

That was in 1985. A very long memory has Charlie.

Brentford: Bentley, Dalsgaard, Konsa, Mepham (sub Jeanvier), Barbet, McEachran, Sawyers, Benrahma (Judge), MacLeod, Watkins, Maupay (Canos).

Wigan: Walton, James, Dunkley, Kipre, Robinson, Evans, Morsy, Connolly, Powell (sub Garner), Windass (McManaman) Vaughan (Gibson).