MIDDLESBROUGH 0 BRENTFORD 1

Stewart Purvis saw Brentford get all three points in their first  away game of the season.

For eighty years the Bees hadn’t got an away win at the Boro and then, like the proverbial London or Middlesbrough buses, two victories have come along in five months. It took Brentford until match day 28 to get three points away last season, now in only the second match of the season they showed the grit and determination that seemed lacking last time round and which promises well for other Championship awaydays in the new black and yellow strip.

It certainly didn’t start that way. Ollie Watkins, leading the attack again with a nice new long-term contract safely banked, said afterwards the team had been ‘sloppy’ in the first half and that’s putting it mildly. Thomas Frank fielded the same line-up which somehow lost to Birmingham, resisting the temptation to start any more  new arrivals acquired in that turbulent transfer window. But the Mathias Jensen-Josh 

Dasilva midfield which made such a good start in the first quarter at Griffin Park was less effective at the Riverside and lost possession with worrying regularity.
The main battleground was between the new look Brentford defence, anchored by Pontus Jansson, and the Boro attack led by Brett Assombalonga, whose substitution in the same game last season heralded Bees’s success and the beginning of the end for Tony Pulis.
Alongside Jansson, the aerial domination of Ethan Pinnock towering above Assombalonga was a joy to behold at times, but when Boro moved the ball to the right flank Pinnock looked less convincing on the ground. One of his mistakes gave away a corner and led to the ball ending up in the Brentford net. Goalkeeper David Raya, who otherwise had a good game, was caught out of position by the quick corner and Ashley Fletcher scrambled it into the net. Referee Stephen Martin decided it was Fletcher’s hand that had provided the final propulsion and ruled ‘no goal’. There were more scrapes: Raya made one exceptional save after Pinnock was again dispossessed, Paddy McNair went close and Assombalonga had a couple more chances before hitting the post. Brentford’s best opening came when Rico Henry put Sergi Canos through but he shot softly and wide. 
On the touch line Jonathan Woodgate, in dark suit and white shirt for his first home game as Boro boss, would have known his team had the best half. Thomas Frank, all track top, shorts and sunburned legs said he’d been ‘very disappointed’ . He’d lost count of how many times his team  gave away the ball. But  Brentford had somehow managed not to concede, they were still in it. 
According to Watkins, Frank was calm at half time, urging his players to improve their passing and that’s what they did when the second half began. Their press was higher and harder while Boro’s was lower and softer. The front three linked better, the midfield seemed stronger, Jensen and Dalsgaard had good shots. Suddenly ‘Come On Brentford’ could be heard from the few hundred Bees fans. 
Just a few minutes later a clever flick from Canos put him away from Boro captain Dani Ayala down the right, he advanced towards the byline and crossed for Watkins who put it away and peeled away to celebrate in front of those fans. 
Brentford were now making many more chances than the home side. Jansson went down in the box but the ref’s decision went against him, Canos made another long run but fluffed his shot.  
When Dasilva went down with an injury, Bryan Mbeumo signed from French club Troyes, was readied for his debut but in fact it was Luka Racic who was first off the bench when Pinnock, with a heavily strapped thigh, had to come off. Mbeumo did get on eventually and so did  Dru Yearwood, newly arrived from somewhat less exotic Southend.
What was striking about the final quarter of an hour was how calm and measured the Bees were, no panic, no harum scarum goal line clearances. Captain Pontus Jansson was at the heart of it,organising, cajoling ,he was even seen calming colleagues down at stressful moments.
Not so long ago we would have expected Brentford to concede the lead in the final minutes of a big away game. Remember Leeds and Villa last season. Now things seem different and it may be that Jansson is that difference.
‘ Super Brentford’ rang out and towards the final whistle Woodgate had his head in his hands while Frank was crouching, shouting, showing off those knees. On Tuesday night he can give more game time to his new players in the League Cup game against Cambridge United and we may get the chance to see Christian Norgaard in his first fully competitive match. Much is expected of him in midfield where starting places are clearly still there to be won. Kamo Mokotjo will soon have his say about that and upfront Said Benrahma will be back in a few weeks enjoying his new Number Ten shirt. There is a lot for Bees fans to look forward to. 

Middlesbrough: Randolph; Howson, Ayala, Shotton, Coulson; Clayton (sub Dijksteel 75 mins), McNair, Wing; Johnson  Browne), Assombalonga, Fletcher ( Gestede)

Brentford: Raya; Jeanvier, Jansson, Pinnock (Racic); Dalsgaard, Jensen, Dasilva (Yearwood), Henry; Marcondes, Watkins, Canós (Mbeumo)