NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1 BRENTFORD 0

Stewart Purvis sees Brentford fall again to a single goal in an away game.

Three seasons ago Brentford beat Nottingham Forest 3-2 at the City Ground in a wonderfully exciting evening game with Sergi Canos setting up a brilliant breakaway winning goal. 
This weekend Sergi, yellow carded for arguing with an official, limped off with a leg injury leaving Brentford with just ten men to try to grab an equaliser against Forest. You couldn’t blame Sergi who had struggled on maybe longer than he should have.
But the contrast with March 2017 told you everything you needed to know about this game and the thousand Bees fans who made the trip returned home downcast. 
Facing his squad’s third game in seven days Thomas Frank rang the changes with Bryan Mbeumo in for Said Benrahma and Mathias Jensen replacing Kamo Mokotjo.Surprisingly Brentford were the favourites to win with the bookies.
Forest were led by Ben Watson who once scored the winner for Wigan against Man City in a Cup Final. How long ago that feels. And it’s even longer, 2009-10 to be precise, since John Bostock had 9 games for Brentford on loan from Spurs. He’s now on the Forest bench after a global tour in search of a settled home that’s taken him to Canada, Belgium, Turkey and France.
Brentford seemed to have one strategy in the Bees playbook in the first half and they used it to the almost total exclusion of any other. Rico Henry, playing more as a left wing back than a full back in this adaptation of 4-3-4, scampered up to Mbeumo who sometimes passed to Dasilva and occasionally had a shot. There were precious few returns from this policy as half- time approached. Then in the last minute of first half added time Brentford got a free kick 30 yards out. Jensen struck the ball against the wall of defenders and a deflection sent it in the opposite direction to the way Forest keeper Brice Samba expected. With great agility he changed course and managed to beat it away. It had been Brentford’s best chance of the game and it remained that way for the rest of the match.
That’s because in the second half the ‘Run Rico Run’ plan ran out of steam even when Benrahma joined him, subbing for Mbeumo. And again there were too many of the usual characteristics of our away form this and last season-Boro and Barnsley apart- so many mIsplaced passes and too many corners and free kicks that don’t beat the first man.
This time even the much improved defence - Pontus Jansson was again Bees Man of the Match, but in a low poll- lost out to a set piece. A careless back pass led to a Forest corner on the right. It was back headed at the front post then front headed at the back post and fell to Ben Watson in the middle of the box. Two weeks ago he got his first goal for Forest, now he doubled his goal tally by smashing the ball past Raya.
Brentford’s response was, frankly, dull. Yes there were chances of a kind as the Bees attempted to convert their much vaunted ‘expected goals’ rating which has them in fourth place rather than the 19th they now occupy in the real world. Thomas Frank referred rather sarcastically afterwards to ‘this very smart expected goals’.
My own very home made stat of the day was that during the 21 minutes Nikos Karelis spent on the pitch as a sub striker I counted that he only touched the ball twice and one of those was a pass which accidentally hit him on the back. That’s not a criticism of the Greek striker but an indication that the midfield are just not threading enough through balls to the central striker whoever he is.
Forest, who were tidy but never dominant, held out easily to move to second place in the Championship. At the end Thomas Frank was asked if the team had lost some of their vim and vigour’. He said his team ‘maybe lacked that bit of extra freshness and quality of the day’ . Let’s hope they get it back during the international break before Millwall, conquerors of Leeds, come to Griffin Park on the 19th October

Nottingham Forest: Samba; Cash, Worrall, Chema, Ribeiro; Sow (sub Adomah), Watson; Lolley, Silva, Carvalho  Ameobi); Grabban (Mir) 

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