BRENTFORD 3 DERBY COUNTY 0

Bill Hagerty sees the Bees click into top gear to register their first home win of the season

 

Having peppered Charlton with 21 unconverted shots at what became an unhappy Valley last Saturday, Brentford must have been determined to go one better. Here they did exactly that, amassing a count of 22 shots and going three better when it came to scoring. 

It was the first time in this League term that Thomas Frank fielded a side that from the off looked a cohesive unit brimming with ideas and vitality. Derby, disappointing and resembling little lambs lost in the wood rather than bighorn Rams on the rampage, seemed hardly to know what hit them.

 

Said Benhrama, making his first start and tormenting the visiting defence at every turn – there were plenty of those to flummox the back four – was only partly responsible for lifting Brentford’s spirits and performance level. 

 

Ollie Watkins was a commanding presence whenever charging through the middle, while Bryan Mbeumo, unable properly to find his feet in earlier games, suddenly realised they were on the end of his legs and had a game that promised much for the future. One goal and an assist to his name comprehensivelyif belatedly, announced his arrival and by combining menacingly with Watkins evoked memories of a similar partnership Ollie enjoyed with Neal Maupay. 

 

Good news indeed, as was the return of Benrahma. Despite running low on energy and being replaced towards the end, he showed signs of regaining the form that made him a target for some Premier League clubs during the transfer window. Let’s hope they haven’t noticed.

 

Sergi Canos, the busiest of Bees, went close soon after the off, drawing a splendid save from Kelle Roos, but it was the new Watkins-Mbeumo team that delivered after 17 minutes, Ollie’s shot being only parried by the keeper for Maupay’s replacement to pounce. A minute later the roles were reversed, a flowing move ending with Mbeumo providing a square pass for an unmarked Watkins to score easily.

 

The confidence positively oozed from Brentford and Derby’s defending became increasingly frantic. Benrahma unleashed a shot that made Roos’ fingertips tingle, Rico Henry ballooned a shot over the bar and then, just before the break and to nobody’s surprise, Brentford increased their lead, Watkins firing his second shot home after the first had rebounded from a defender in a packed Derby box. 

 

A much tamer second period saw chances missed – Watkins very nearly completed a hat-trick when his neat lob was not quite neat enough to avoid the onrushing Roos – and Canos and the inspiring Dalsgaard tormenting the visitors from the flanks. Only in midfield was there a deficiency, which Thomas Frank attempted to address with substitutions. He has yet to find an ideal pairing there.

 

With an international break next weekend, nine of the first team squad will be engaged on behalf of a handful of different countries. Of the victors over Derby only David Raya and Ollie Watkins have not been selected to represent their countries at some level of football during their careers but if Watkins continues to bustle and bruise defences and can snap up more chances – four goals this season so far – he could soon be joining the international brigade.  

 

After the match Dutch Derby coach Phillip Cocu described his team as ‘arrogant’, but their lack-lustre showing indicated more problems than unwarranted hubris. Last April a feisty Rams required Brentford to come from behind three times in order to gain a point at Griffin Park. The departure of Frank Lampard, rewarded for his inability to get promotion via the play-offs by being appointed head coach at Chelsea, seems to have left a side riddled with insecurity.

With not one shot on target throughout the ninety minutes and a defence that opened up like a can of sardines, one can’t see why Cocu picked only on a conceit unnoticed by anyone else, I said to my mate-of-few-words in the next seat.

‘Double Dutch?’ ventured Charlie.

Brentford: Raya, Dalsgaard, Janssen, Jeanvier, Canos, Jensen (sub Mokotjo, NorgaardHenry, Mbeumo (Zamburek), Watkins, Benrahma(Valencia). 

 

Derby CountyRoos, Lowe, Keogh, Bielick, Buchanan (Holmes) Knight, Huddlestone, Dowell (Bennett), Marriott (Patterson), Waghorn, Lawrence.