BRENTFORD 3 DERBY COUNTY 3

Bill Hagerty celebrates a return to form that produced a point from a thrilling Griffin Park encounter

 

This is a tale of guts and nerve; a story of how the Bees, their season written off by many following a 3-0 drubbing at Swansea, resurrected it by three times responding to goals by play-offs contenders Derby and very nearly sent the Rams home like a flock of sorrowful sheep. 

The visitors and a buoyant army of supporters arrived on the crest of a wave from the Midlands, having walloped Rotherham 6-1 their last time out. That’s one better than Brentford achieved at the start of the season and, considering the Bees had failed to score in any of their last four matches, the home fans making up the bulk of a 12,000-plus gate had to uncross their fingers to applaud every time the team laced together a few passes to avoid catastrophe. That method of fending off bad luck patently didn’t work. After just twelve minutes all too familiar inadequacy in defence allowed a marauding Derby to arrive like a runaway train and find totally unmarked striker Harry Wilson strolling into the penalty area. Wilson, on loan from Liverpool and the real deal, shot past Luke Daniels with irritating nonchalance.

The same old, same old story? Well, no. Ten minutes later what looked like a well-rehearsed set-piece saw Said Benrahma’s follow-up from his corner home in on a charging Julian Jeanvier, who smacked the ball past keeper Kelle Roos.

So far, so all right. But, hold on: the sound of lusty cheers from the Ealing Road end had barely faded when Jayden Bogle bustled his way into the goalmouth to latch on a Bradley Johnson pass and re-establish the visitors’ lead.

Was the crowd depressed? Yes, but for only five minutes, the time it took Brentford to regroup and Rico Henry – welcome back – to find Neal Maupay lurking close to the far post. Enough said.

This was not a game for the faint-hearted. Derby were not prepared to take prisoners and a litany of fouls – the favourite being the ankle-tapping of a top-of-his-form Romaine Sawyers – saw them rack up five yellow cards against the home team’s three. And skirmishes involving players of both sides kept whistle-happy referee John Brooks busy, especially when Sergi Canos, substituting for Ollie Watkins, offered what may have been a few words of encouragement to a suspiciously prone Fikayo Tomori, provoking the Chelsea loanee into a reasonably accurate impersonation of a raging bull.

Brentford ran the visitors ragged for most of the second half. Chances came and went, with Derby becoming more unsettled by the minute. Denied a penalty because Ashley Cole – multi-capped England full-back, here having entered the fray as a sub – was judged to have dived, the protests were vigorous, none more so than that of Cole as he collected one of the referee’s yellow cautions. 

But when, with not much more than ten minutes left to play, the bothersome Wilson ran on to a Tomori through-ball to emphatically beat Daniels, it seemed justice was not about to be done. Wrong call. Five minutes more and Canos fed the ever-dangerous Benrahma for his left-footed drive to put Brentford back on terms.

Frank Lampard, obviously not best pleased, had earlier joined the naughty boys’ roster when his frustration spilled over and he took to the touchline to vent it, earning a wigging from Mr Brooks. 

‘If you score three goals away from home, you expect to win the game,’ the Derby manager grumpily told the BBC at the end. But it ain’t over till it’s over, Frank. 

 ‘Phew,’ I said to my mate Charlie, ‘They probably all need a lie down after that.’

‘So do I,’ said Charlie.

 

Brentford: Daniels, Konsa, Jeanvier, Mads Bech Sὃrensen, Dalsgaard, Mokotjo (sub Dasilva), Sawyers, Henry (Odubajo), Watkins (Canos), Maupay, Benrahma.

Derby County: Roos, Bogle, Keogh, Tomori, Malone (Cole), Holmes (Bryson), Johnson, Mount, Wilson, Waghorn (Bennett), Lawrence.