BRENTFORD 1 BIRMINGHAM CITY 1

Stewart Purvis sees the Bees disappointed as another two points get away.

 

This was the game where a player who never scores got a goal, where a player got a red card for something only the fourth official saw, a manager who saw it differently got sent off too and for the second game running Brentford dropped points but moved up the table. No wonder Head Coach Dean Smith called it all ’strange, weird, mad’.

He’d made three changes from the Reading game; the most striking was his decision to drop Bentley to the bench and replace him with Daniels, making his first Championship start of the season. Smith said later Bentley was ‘gutted’ but understood. Upfront Canos and Judge came in for the suspended Benrahma and Watkins who’d had a negative reaction to an injection in his toe before Saturday’s game.

After last year’s 5-0 thrashing, when the chorus of ‘Cheer Up Harlee Dean’ echoed round Griffin Park, Harlee was back talking of wanting ‘revenge’. Jota in a rather more gracious mood sought out the voice of Griffin Park and overall good guy Peter Gilham to shake hands just before kick off. 

Jota turned out to be the standout player of the first quarter. The man sitting next to me, who’s new to the Bees, said ‘their number 23 is very good’. Yoann Barbet and the rest of us recognised those familiar Jota trademarks, the floppy haired run across the front of the box, the slightest of touches around the left back before accelerating away but Yoann wasn’t entirely sure what to do about them. It was no coincidence that a Jota free kick led to a Jota corner put away by a header from an unchallenged Morrison.

What none of us would have expected was that Brentford would equalise with a goal by a player who’s never scored in eight years of professional football. The circumstances were similar to the much talked about, much delayed free kick against Reading. In the pre-kick hurly burly Dalsgaard got a card and Captain Canos was spoken to by the ref. But justice was done when Josh McEachran took Judge’s advice to ‘whip it in, front post’. Birmingham goalkeeper Lee Camp could only palm it into the net.

The second half began with Brentford, determined to pass their way through the banks of Birmingham defence, constantly losing possession. Smith said; ‘we kept giving the ball away but fortunately they kept giving it back’ .

At the heart of what happened next was Brentford’s chief wind-up merchant of opposition defences Neal Maupay. Early on in the game Dean had got so angry with Maupay that he stood hacking away at him even after conceding a free kick. In the 66th minute Maupay went down clutching his head, he told team-mates afterwards he’d been hit in the face.The referee hadn’t seen that, nor had Dean Smith. The closest eye-witness, Birmingham manager Garry Monk, said he thought it would be a yellow card for Maupay, presumably for simulation.  Instead the ref’s assistants advised him it should be a red card for Birmingham defender Maikel Kieftenbeld. Monk went mad and earned his own red card.

A chorus of ‘Cheer Up Harlee Dean’ was heard but he and Birmingham’s other ten men were busy shutting up shop for the night, happy to take a point with as much time-wasting as possible. Camp who’d been jeered by Bees fans in the first half when he paused to stroke his ‘man bun’ was now warned by the ref for delaying a goal kick while he took a drink.

With no forwards on the bench Brentford brought on Moses Odubajo who’d played on the right wing when he was at Orient and was signed by Brentford as a defender/winger. He went close as did McEachran again and Dalsgaard but Birmingham saw it out.

In the final minutes that man Maupay collected another yellow card along with chief antagonists Dean and Morrison. ‘Headless Bee’ tweeted; ‘Players bloody hate him.We bloody love him’.

Brentford kept their unbeaten record at home but haven’t won in four league games. Watkins and Benrahma should be back for the away game at Leeds who unlike Reading and Birmingham will not be in the bus parking business.

 

Brentford: Daniels; Dalsgaard, Konsa, Mepham, Barbet; McEachran; Judge (sub Odubajo ), Sawyers (Mokotjo), Macleod (Yennaris), Canós; Maupay

Birmingham City: Camp; Colin, Dean, Morrison, Pedersen; Jota (sub Mahoney), Gardner, Kieftenbeld, Maghoma; Adams (Lakin), Jutkiewicz (Bogle)