Brentford were beaten by a resolute Sheffield United side who battled and fought for all three points with a single goal from Billy Sharpe.
The game was always going to be a potential banana skin for Brentford with the Blades having not lost at Bramall Lane since January and playing their first game since cruising League One last season with 100-plus points.
And you could say the Bees had an air of caution about them – starting with a midfield of Mokotjo, Woods and McEachran. The normally rampant midfield wasn’t given much room for manoeuvre by a dogged United side who didn’t allow the Bees to play their free-flowing football.
All in all, the 27k fans in Bramall Lane – including 1200 Brentford fans – watched an enjoyable afternoon of football with chances at both ends. Jota, Vibe, Woods and Dalsgaard were in the thick of the action for the Bees with Leon Clarke threatening for United.
Enda Steven’s long-range effort hit the post and rebounded directly (quite luckily) into Daniel Bentley’s hands. United then attacked Brentford via their Achilles Heel – delivering a couple of corners into the area that caused a load of problems. The next corner caused even more problems when Clarke air-kicked the incoming ball before recovering to deliver a looping cross for Blades’ top scorer last season, Billy Sharpe, to head into the back of the net – marked by one of the smallest men on the pitch – to see The Blades go one up at the break.
— Beesotted Brentford (@Beesotted) August 5, 2017
The start of the second half saw The Bees rattled and United had two ‘goals’ ruled out for offside before the Bees started to edge their way back into the game.
With Nico Yennaris on for Mokotjo and Watkins on for Jozefzoon midway through the half, the Bees then developed more energy and attacking presence. Suddenly they were taking the game to United who were – from that point on – holding on for all three points.
Vibe had a goal ruled offside before the Bees missed two gilt-edged opportunities to equalise after debut Blades keeper Blackman pulled off a fine save from Jota. Yennaris’ then managed to place his rebound header on top of the crossbar with the goalkeeper on the floor, before rebounding to Vibe who had to simply roll the ball off his chest for an easy goal. Instead he opted to head the ball from four yards out – which went over the bar.
— Channel 5 Sport (@Channel5Sport) August 5, 2017
Watkins was starting to cause problems and was prevented from scoring by a last-ditch United tackle.
The introduction of Neil Maupay saw Brentford inject even more liveliness into the final ten minutes of play – a clever through ball to him saw him break free of the defence but his shot was straight at keeper Blackman. The french striker caused a fair few problems problems in the dying moments but it wasn’t to be as United held on to claim a significant win.
Bees fans on the Beesotted Pride of West London podcast (above) were gutted to have not got a point at least, but were positive for the future. Blades fans thought Brentford showed some excellent touches throughout the game but were lacking in the final third.
The same fans who have been underestimating us all week! that was a great game – must say you have a v good team/back you to make top 6!
— TheBlades (@skibumg) August 5, 2017
I thought Brentford had a few excellent players 23,21,15 and 7 will cause teams real problems
— Haydn Wilshaw (@HaydnWilshaw) August 5, 2017
Brentford manager Dean Smith felt the Bees were unlucky.
“Sheffield United are a good, organised team and went man for man against Woodsy, McEachran and Mokotjo and made it difficult for us. We expected that.”
“We didn’t move the ball as quickly as we normally do and I don’t think they did either. We conceded a bit of a fortunate goal. Billy Sharp has had one chance and scored. Leon Clarke miskicks the ball and then crosses it for the header.”
He discussed how he felt the substitutes switched the game up:
“We wanted a bit more energy, wanted more of a threat in their half and their box. Ollie Watkins came on, as did Nico Yennaris. I thought we had a number of chances in the second half that we didn’t take.
“We hit the bar and missed two headers. Jota has had a few shots which he normally converts. I’m disappointed with the result but I’m not too despondent.
“I look back at the Huddersfield game (first game last season) and we’re a much better team and that team will get better as well.”
Brentford will play a lot worse and win this season. That’s not to take away from United who harried and hassled and fought from minute one – playing as a unit – to pull a result out of the bag.
It makes next week’s match against Nottingham Forest even more important with three home points a must. Bees fans will have to up the ante and get Griffin Park really rocking on Saturday – giving maximum support for both the team and the manager as a lot is riding on Brentford having a good start to the season. The post-match thoughts from fans in the pub was, if the Bees were able to secure a Top Six spot by the end of the month, Jota may have second thoughts about moving away from Griffin Park for the time being.
Onwards and upwards.
Blackman; Freeman, Stearman, Basham, O’Connell, Stevens; Coutts, Curruthers (Lundstram 71), Fleck; Clarke, Sharp (Lavery 78)
Subs (not used): Wright, Duffy, Lafferty, Eastwood, Brooks
Bentley; Dalsgaard, Egan, Bjelland, Henry; Mokotjo (Yennaris 59), McEachran (Maupay 78), Woods; Jota, Vibe, Jozefzoon (Watkins 59)
Subs (not used): Colin, Sawyers, Daniels, Barbett
26,746 (1,210 away fans)
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