Bill Hagerty witnesses Christmas arriving early as Bees gifts let Swansea snaffle the points


Had Swansea realised that Santa was going to pay a premature visit to Griffin Park and bestow gifts solely on the visitors, they might have put out a couple of mince pies and a glass of milk for the old fellow. Not that he was unaided in a match that saw Swansea score three times in the first half-hour. Conspiring with him in dispensing one-way largesse was a Brentford defence that from the kick-off appeared so convinced the holidays were already upon us it’s a wonder they didn’t sing a verse or two of Jingle Bells.

All right, I exaggerate. But how else to explain a first-half pounding that began within half-a-minute, when Ezri Konsa untypically allowed Barrie McKay to rob him of the ball and Wayne Routledge took advantage of defenders presumably still mentally putting a turkey in the oven to turn in the cross from close in.

There was barely time for an Ollie Watkins shot to clear the crossbar by several feet and Said Benrahma to cross the ball with cannonball velocity, and similar wayward trajectory, before the Swans were two-up. This one came gift-wrapped, with leading scorer Oliver McBurnie hustling the centre backs so successfully that the ball bounced off Chris Mephaminto goal.

 Brentford were now in some disarray, which became total disarray when the pesky McBurnie’s dashing overhead effort fell neatly at the feet of Leroy Fer: 3-0.

Those of us who had admired the second-half fighting spirit that saw Thomas Frank’s side plunder a late, late goal and a point at West Brom began to wonder just how bad a defeat this might be. But without so much as a farewell wave, Santa abruptly departed and Brentford woke up. 

Josh McEachran, foraging nobly in midfield, broke through himself to unleash a thunderous shot that shook the Swansea crossbar before bouncing neatly for Watkins to head home.

Were we to see a fight-back like that at the Hawthorns? Well, no. But certainly the Bees retained possession for long periods, giving the ball away only part of the time, and Benrahma – constantly causing Swansea all sorts of trouble on the left and encouraged by a pat on the cheek from Sawyers – made a point a distinct possibility with a free kick hit so sublimely that goalkeeper Erwin Mulder could only watch it whistle past into the corner of his net.

There were opportunities to snatch respectability from the ashes of a good hiding. Neal Maupay missed a couple of chances that he would have gobbled up earlier in the season. Watkins, too, with one golden opportunity muffed and several crosses from the edge of the box that arrived so close to Mulder that he had barely to move in order to hug them close.

At the other end the Swansea attack remained rampant, still opening up the home defence like a can of beans. But Daniel Bentley, having made only one of the careless distribution errors that are in danger of becoming his trademark, was in splendid, acrobatic form. Benrahma, replaced by Sergi Canos with 12 minutes or so remaining, was the other Brentford player to remain unfazed by a Swans’ side, with wholesale changes to its line-up following three straight losses, determined to get back on track.

As often happens in such situations, the beleaguered home side had one last flourish in its repertoire, with Canos getting on the end of a Chris Mepham headed ball to wallop it against the crossbar. Hands to face, the Spaniard was distraught. We knew how he felt.

 So here we are, languishing towards the foot of the league table, just four points above the relegation zone. “It’s not good that we keep putting ourselves in these situations over and over again,’ said the head coach, who also told the BBC that the game was ‘like a horror movie’. You can say that again, Thomas, although we’d rather you didn’t have to. 

 ‘Not to worry.’ I told me my mate Charlie. ‘Be of good cheer’.

Ho, ho, ho,’ said Charlie.

 Brentford: Bentley, Dalsgaard, Konsa, Mepham, Henry, McEachran (sub Judge), Yennaris (Mokotjo),Watkins, Sawyers, Benrahma (Canos), Maupay. 

Swansea City: Mulder, Naughton, van der Hoon, Rodon, Olsson (sub Roberts), Fer, Grimes, Routledge (Carter-Vickers), McKay, Dyer (Fulton), McBurnie.