If Brentford fans thought that a ‘nice little cup run’ could take the edge off a poor start to the season, or be a useful distraction to kick-start some more positive results, Tuesday night’s League Cup exit was certainly not what the doctor ordered.
Dean Smith made big changes to the starting line-up from Saturday’s draw with Reading, understandably in some cases, however, Norwich were stronger in almost every department from the start to the finish and any benefits of fielding some of the B Team talent was hard to see as the game unfolded. There was a poor crowd at Griffin Park, and it was a poor performance by the boys in red and white.
Chris Mepham, making his first team debut, had a harsh introduction when he was adjudged to have clipped a Norwich forward in the area after just ten minutes, allowing Mario Vrancic to coolly convert past Luke Daniels, and although the Bees tried to knock it around and beavered away to get back in the game, Norwich looked superior in the midfield without Ryan Woods and Romaine Sawyers.
Yohan Barbet will not be alone in wanting to forget his penalty effort early in the second half, after Mokotjo had been felled, the Frenchman smashing the ball high into the upper deck of the Brook Road stand and almost decapitating a copper – if one moment summed up the season so far, that was it. Why isn’t Neil Maupay taking pens?
After that let-off Nowich stepped it up a gear – Vrancic curled a lovely free kick around the Bees’ wall to make it two, then Murphy chipped the ball over the onrushing Daniels to make it three.
On a night that ended in boos from some sections of the home crowd (as you will hear at the start of the post match podcast and video by clicking the links above), Justin Shaibu(oooo) can hold his head up high after coming on as sub, the young Dane hitting the post after an excellent run, and his direct running and energy was in stark contrast to one or two of his team mates who fell below the levels that are expected.
The next three matches before the international break now become even more critical – Bolton Wanderers away this Saturday, Derby County at home next Tuesday, followed by a long trip to Middlesbrough.
Perhaps, if the players want to prove that those suggesting Dean Smith may be becoming a problem are wrong, the ones on the pitch need to prove otherwise.
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