BRENTFORD 1 READING 0

 

Bill Hagerty sees Ollie Watkins score his eleventh goal of the season to end the Royals’ encouraging unbeaten run 

 

As a thrill-a-minute spectacle, it was not in the league of Prince Andrew’s alleged extra curricular activities that tittle-tattled the nation during the international break.

But there was still a certain thrill to climbing a further rung up the Championship table courtesy of an Ollie Watkins second-half goal of high quality that blitzed the Royals dream of continuing their four-match unbeaten run.

‘Maybe lack of concentration cost us the goal we conceded,’ said recently appointed manager Mark Bowen after tasting defeat for the first time with the club. Maybe, although it is possible Watkins’ silver-plated finish – leaping to get on the end of an immaculate Mathias Jensen cross and glance a header low into the net past stranded keeper Cabral Barbosa -had something to do with it.

Have no doubt, Reading were no pushovers. Had they been able to field one or two more forwards with half the talent of Ovie Ejaria, on loan from Liverpool and a real handful in midfield or running threateningly at the oppositionthen the Bees might have had to settle for a point. As it was, it was the visitors’ immaculate defence that kept them in contention, leaving Ejaira and, on occasion, Sam Baldock, as the only strikers likely to direct the ball at David Raya’s goal rather than the corner flags.

All of which made for a dull first half, with the home side constantly failing to gel and, when they did, finding Barbosa a frustrating backstop. No wonder bored home fans took to taunting the hapless assistant referee who failed to flag what looked a blatant Reading offside and Raya  possibly to relieve the tedium, wandering almost to the halfway line to have a chat with the Brentford bench.

What with the intermittent rain and frequent interruptions in play demanded by over-meticulous referee David Coote, the first half petered out like a fading battery. Fortunately, there were signs of a substantial recharge after the interval and when just past the hour the ever-dangerous Watkins delivered a goal so handsome it deserved to be framed and hung in the changing room for posterityBrentford sprung excitingly to life.

Josh Dasilva, lethargic almost to the point of dozing off until then, started to match for creativity the ever-improving Matthias Jensen in midfield, while Bryan Mbeumo, finding space out on the rightbecame a constant irritant to a defence suddenly finding itself under constant pressure.

And when Mr Coote turned down a Brentford penalty plea with what looked like nonchalant indifference  the home crowd suddenly woke up to the possibility of a rare home victory – only the third of the season- and supplied vocal support with mounting enthusiasm while castigating the referee at every opportunity.

With Jan Zamburek seamlessly replacing Said Benrahma for the final fifteen minutes and Watkins still motoring with a full tank, it was only resolute defending and top-class goalkeeping from Barbosa that prevented the Bees increasing a lead that looked increasingly slender as Reading tried desperately to get on terms during five frantic added minutes. One could almost hear a collective exhalation of breath from the Ealing Road end as Mr Coote, with no complaint from the crowd, sounded the final whistle

No wonder there was a broad smile on the face of Thomas Frank as he conducted his familiar amble around the ground to salute the fans. Eighth in a division where any of the top dozen could be in contention for promotion come season’s close – and it isn’t even Christmas yet.

As for the opposition, it was not exactly a princely performance by the Royalsobserved to my mate Charlie.

That makes two of them, said Charlie

Brentford: Raya, Dalsgaard, Jansson, Pinnock, Henry, Jensen, Mikoto, DaSilva (sub Oksanen)Memo, Watkins, Brahma (Zamburak).

Reading: Barbosa, Miasma, Morrison, Moore, YeadonSwift, Rhinophoral (Boy)AjariaRichards, Puskas (McCleary), Baldock (Meitei).