BARNSLEY 1 BRENTFORD 3

Donald Kerr was one of the 366 Bees fans who survived the wind and the rain and came home from the trip to Oakwell to find, yes it was true they hadn’t gone mad, Brentford had won:

 

It was Albert Einstein that was credited with defining madness as the practice of doing the same thing repeatedly with the expectation of a different result each time. As we approached  Oakwell for our next away gamestill expectantly, despite having witnessed only three wins in over 40 trips  it was tempting to debate whether our determined and indomitable travelling fans, many like your reporter who have been to all of them, were not betraying more than a trace of insanity. Maybe this time it really would be different. 

After no more than one minute, that seemed like a forlorn hope. Like a horrible action-replay of Preston, the opposition started with more energy and seemingly more drive, and we were still finding our feet when Woodrow blazed the ball into the corner of the net. Easier to judge probably if watching on TV with the benefit of replays, but it appeared that we failed to adapt as quickly to the very quick wet surface, failed to close down the opposing midfield and paid the price. 

All the talk when the team had been announced was the replacement by Kamohelo Mokotjo of Bryan Mbueno and the change in formation to a back four with Henrik back to his favoured position with Sergei Canos ahead of him on the right. In truth, the extra man in midfield didn’t make much difference in the first frantic 25 minutes. Both teams were guilty of giving the ball away, Brentford more guilty than Barnsley, and although we grew into the game steadily, the best chance prior to our equaliser fell to the home team, as David Raya rushed out, missed the ball and watched gratefully as Pontus Jansson deflected the resultant shot past the post  

The conditions were atrocious but both teams tried to play the ball on the ground. In the past few weeks, we have seen teams like Charlton and Birmingham sit on a one nil lead and put 10 men behind the ball. Barnsley perhaps without the same experience and quality of those teams, couldn’t frustrate us in the same way, and, from their corner we broke quickly. Said Benrahma holding the ball up, passing to Matthias Jensen, who crossed a delightful ball on to Ollie Watkins’ head and into the net. From that point till the end, Barnsley were never as dangerous as in the first quarter of the match. We should have scored another when Ollie broke through, hit the post, hit the ricochet against the bar and watched as Said failed narrowly to hit the rebound on target. 

The momentum at the end of the first half was picked up immediately at the start of the  second, and, in hindsight, though we weren’t to know it at the time, the early goal effectively ended the game as a contest. Brentford took over completely and their growth in confidence was in sharp contrast to the growing desperation of the opposition. An optimistic claim for a penalty against Henrik was followed within a minute with the third Brentford goal, following a period in which we had spurned one or two golden opportunities to score, most notably when Canos was free on the right and tried to beat the goalkeeper when a simple cross would surely have given Ollie an earlier hat-trick

Let’s hope that Mathias Jensen, replaced instead of Mokotjo, is not too badly injured. And that Nikos Karelis as his fitness improves will prove a worthy challenger to Ollie for the centre forward role. It was heartening to hear the home crowd applaud as Ethan Pinnock’s name was read out at the start and again as he came on late in the day to further frustrate a tiring Barnsley side. 

This game was full of positives. Everyone had a good game but the most encouraging signs were the strong performances of Norgaard and Jensen, the composure and growing familiarity of Watkins in the centre forward position, and the fact that Said had, as one fellow supporter said,”really got his mojo back”. He had a great second half and ran the hat trick hero a very close second for man of the match. We need to weigh the quality of the opposition into any judgement of what this result means for the next few games. We also need to remember that we thought the win at Middlesbrough and the win against Derby were, in turn, indications that our league campaign had started in earnest. But in constant driving rain, on a ground where we had failed to win in the Championship before, this was a welcome away victory. We weren’t so mad after all. 

For supporters of clubs like our own, that are covered less frequently on TV than others, there is often some apprehension of the scrutiny of the cameras. It is almost as if the likelihood of defeat is somehow greater because others are watching beyond those in the ground. After all, it’s impossible to tell your non attending friends that we were unlucky or that the performance was good despite the result, if they’d watched it themselves on the telly. Even when we’ve won when Sky have covered the game, I still find myself asking the armchair viewer ‘how did we look on TV’ as if, having watched it live, I was unable to judge for myself. In this instance, though, I have the feeling that, after a bad start, we weren’t quite as bad as I thought in the first quarter, and that we were very good to watch in the second.

 

Barnsley: Collins; Cavaré (sub Thiam); Halme, Andersen, Williams; Sibbick; Brown, Mowatt, Chaplin (Schmidt), Thomas (Wilks); Woodrow.

 

Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Jeanvier, Henry; Jensen ( Dasilva), Nørgaard, Mokotjo; Canós (Pinnock), Watkins  (Karelis), Benrahma.