BRENTFORD 0 STOKE CITY 0

Considering he is the goalkeeper in a team down in the bottom third of the Championship David Raya has had a remarkably quiet season so far. Game after game he has had little to do apart from pick the ball out of the net as -no fault of his-Brentford concede a crucial goal.
But this weekend it was Raya who with one brilliant save ensured that Brentford at least picked up a point rather than lose a game they could have won.
The Bees started with an unchanged line-up from the one that beat  Derby but lost at Preston. There was a debut on the bench for Nikos Karelis, the Greek striker signed as a free agent after the transfer window failed to provide a replacement for Neal Maupay. For Stoke’s Brentford alumni Scott Hogan was an unused substitute but Ryan Woods didn’t even make the trip. 
After the first 45 minutes Brentford FC tweeted ‘Not an awful lot to report after the opening 45 minutes’ which was a bit hard on Sergi Canos who, in his now regular berth at right wing back,created a number of chances. One was a classic Canos slalom run which began on the right and ended up on the left wing. He also had a shot blocked.
In midfield Christian Nørgaard, who’d done little of note since the pre-season game against Dynamo Kiev, was also prominent, looking for the out ball from defence, linking the play and even winning possession with rugged tackles. But when a Bryan Mbeumo cross fell to him in prime position in the box he looked rather startled and headed wide.
After half an hour Ollie Watkins was through on goal after turning Stoke’s Liam Lindsay but was called back because it seemed he’d accidentally caught the central defender in the eye. Lindsay, a colleague of Ethan Pinnock at Barnsley last season, had to be subbed as he went off for medical treatment.Watkins had another chance when he nearly beat Stoke keeper Jack Butland to the ball but got clattered in the process.
In the second half it was again Canos on the right making ground and getting in crosses but to no effect, Mbeumo heading wide and Said Benrahma either having his shots blocked or blazing wide.The Algerian would later be booked as his obvious frustration got the better of him.
With half an hour to go Thomas Frank brought on Karelis upfront and Watkins moved alongside him on the right.. When Canos failed to pick out the Greek striker in a good position in the box Sergi ran over and embraced him in apology.  In midfield Kamo Mokotjo replaced Mathias Jensen who’d had a quiet game.
Now Stoke began to get chances, Raya made one good save on the line and then came the crucial moment in the 82nd minute. Pontus Jansson gave the ball away on the edge of the box and Nigerian international Oghenekaro Etebo was through with only the keeper to beat. It looked odds-on for a goal that would win the match for Stoke. But Raya pounced with extraordinary speed at Etebo’s feet and grabbed the ball. The Braemar Road crowd gasped in appreciation. He was voted Man of the Match.
Karelis could have won it for the Bees on his debut from yet another Canos cross but Thomas Frank then banked the point by replacing Canos with defender Josh Clarke, making a rare and welcome appearance.
Brentford had been the more aggressive but had got no reward for that from referee Andy Woolmark. Stoke’s point, only their second of the season, pulled them off the bottom spot  and probably kept manager Nathan Jones in employment for another week. Now Brentford go to Barnsley, just one place above Stoke, still searching for what Thomas Frank calls the ‘momentum to get the engine going’. 
Apart from the defensive clean sheet there were other plus points for the club; this last season at Griffin Park continues to draw good crowds,(the official attendance for this one was 11,870), before the game there was the moving sight of ten year old Munsimar Singh, a victim of racism, leading the teams out in Brentford  kit as a mascot alongside her sister and father and on the 28 minute there was applause in memory of Rob Rowan and in support of fund-raiding for the CRY charity.
 
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Jeanvier; Canós (sub Clarke) Jensen (Mokotjo), Nørgaard, Henry; Mbeumo, Watkins (Karelis), Benrahma

Stoke City: Butland; Edwards, Lindsay ( Batth ), Carter-Vickers, Martins Indi, McClean; Badou; Ince (Campbell), Etebo, Clucas; Gregory ( Vokes 78)