Brentford went to Norwich hoping to capitalise on the Canaries poor form. The Norfolk side had won seven matches all season before KO – the same as their West London rivals – but more importantly they went into this game having won only one of their last nine league matches.
And The Bees shuffled the back quite a bit as Lasse Vibe, Kamo Makotjo, Nico Yennaris and Chris Mepham all took centre stage as Smith looked to add more fire-power to the side – after giving the out-of-form Neil Maupay a run-out against Barnsley – whilst patching up an injury-ravaged defence.
Ollie Watkins hit the post for The Bees early doors and Nico Yennaris saved a Norwich ricochet on the line as the the two teams kept it tight for the first half hour or so. However, it took a double strike from Lasse Vibe in the last 15 minutes of the half to sink the Canaries – his second goal coming after a sublime defence-splitting pass from Romaine Sawyers.
The second half, Norwich took the game to the Bees to an extent – not that they could be much poorer than they player in the first half. Vrancic hit the crossbar after being put through on goal. Canos – who wasted six months on the sideline at Norwich – had a shot beat away by Gunn. However, when Oliviera scored his injury time goal, it had many Bees fearing it would be QPR all over again – when the Bees conceding two goals in time added on to a team who didn’t look close to beating them all match.
Sawyers had an excellent game in midfield – playing an integral role with an assist for both Lasse Vibe’s goals. Nico Yennaris was commanding in his fill-in right back position. Chris Mepham showed that he holds no fear playing at centre back. John Egan could be getting a run for his money here as Dean Smith heaped praise on young B-team graduate.
“His attitude and application are fantastic. He stepped in tonight as if he’d been there all season and played really well.”
Speaking to our Norwich chums on the post-match podcast after the game, their feeling was – despite the late goal – the game was never in question. Brentford were a ‘better team in every department’. They weren’t happy. Norwich did (as they used to say at the infamous ‘291 Club’) ‘Tek a boo’ from their own fans. They booed their performance. They booed the result. They booed the manager. They booed the board. They even booed the crowd announcement.
Daniel Farke had a rather interesting excuse for Norwich’s loss with nerves kicking in the Canaries’ camp.
“You got the feeling the lads were unbelievably nervous for the game but I don’t blame the lads. I blame myself because I think perhaps I pointed out too much how important this game was and it was a crucial game for us. Brentford is a good team and for that I got the feeling the lads were too nervous. They lost their focus.”
This caused a mini social media uproar with Darren Huckerby – in a classic #TeamsLikeBrentford moment – questioned the Norwich team’s bottle.
Said it on Commentary, if your Nervous playing against Brentford in a Championship game on a Friday night your in the wrong game! 😳 https://t.co/GrMzKfVN6U
— Darren Huckerby (@hucks6dh6) December 22, 2017
Any danger of some respect to Brentford?? Little old Brentford… Teams like Brentford. They’ve beaten the entire championship at least once..
— TRS (@therhinospeaks) December 23, 2017
Naturally, this sparked the olde backtrack from Huckerby who claimed it was a dig at Norwich as opposed to Brentford who he felt were good for the win.
You were excellent last night, deserved the win 👍🏻 https://t.co/MGQGWPn99h
— Darren Huckerby (@hucks6dh6) December 23, 2017
Norwich fans were quick to name on-loan Man City keeper Angus Gunn – son of Norwich goalkeeping legend Bryan Gunn – as their man of the match. However Gary Cowers of ‘My Football Writer’ described their first half performance as “relegation fodder” with a “stench that lingered for most of the Glenn Roeder relegation season”. Harsh.
At the same time, he felt that Farke along with the Director of Football Norwich poached from Huddersfield in the middle of their promotion season – Stuart Webber – both need to “have a serious rethink over the suitability of his desired footballing style to the Championship. It’s simply not working. And, worst of all, there is zero evidence of it improving”.
This is in stark contrast to a Brentford team who have been playing some great football this season without getting the results they deserve. Against Norwich, Brentford were much more professional that we have seen against the likes of QPR and say Bristol City (where we conceded an equaliser in injury time of both matches after outclassing them all match). We played well yes. But we have played better. Much better. And we were helped by a City side who reaction when Brentford players unwittingly give the ball away was to give the ball straight back to them.That could have hurt us in other weeks. But Christmas had come early for the Bees.
You have to also point out that the fact that we had a makeshift defence (two players playing out of position at full back and a rookie centre back) and a striker just back from injury who was never going to play the full 90 minutes. To be honest – we did OK.
Steve Bruce: “No disrespect to #TeamsLikeBrentford & #TeamsLikeBarnsley but #avfc is a different kettle to those clubs where there’s no real expectation. Staying in the division is probably the expectation with that they can flourish”
Roll on Boxing Day https://t.co/sAP2PKwOV5
— Beesotted Brentford (@Beesotted) December 24, 2017
So the first three of the nine points that Dean Smith targeted over the Xmas period with three games to go. And with Steve Bruce very arrogantly claiming that Brentford had no expectation and were happy to hang onto their place in the Championship – as opposed to Villa where promotion was expected – looks like we’re set another fiery encounter on Boxing Day.
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