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Walking out of Griffin Park on Saturday after the 1-1 draw with Charlton, fans were in general upbeat and positive.

Positive because Brentford had started their campaign in the Championship unbeaten. Unlike 22 years ago when Wolves came down and eradicated that Brentford feel good factor in 90 minutes.

The fans were also realistic enough to realise that there is plenty of work to do. A late equaliser by experienced campaigner Tommy Smith on his debut, moments after coming on as a sub, was enough for the Bees to share the points. But in reality, if Charlton had been more incisive, the Bees would have been dead and buried long before the ex-Cardiff striker hit the back of the net.

The Bees looked good in parts. For the first 20 minutes or so we played that high pressing fast game that did us so well in the Championship with Judge and Pritchard in excellent form. Poor end product enabled Charlton to soak up the pressure and wear us down.

One could say we were unlucky. If Judge’s rasping shot wasn’t shaved by Henderson .. or Odubajo let rip when he was clean through instead of trickling a shot to the keeper, it would have been a different story.

Charlton then turned the gears up a few notches in the second half and Brentford were on the back foot. A headed goal from one of the smallest players on the pitch, Igor Vetokele, was bundled home from Johnnie Jackson’s corner kick when it really should have been intercepted by Button. At that stage it looked like no way back as Charlton were definitely on top. To be fair, the Bees stopper made a couple of absolutely blinding saves prior to the goal so it was a shame that it was conceded conceded so softly.

At 1-0, Charlton even managed to miss an open goal from Callum Harriott when it looked easier to score – hitting the crossbar after an error from the keeper led to a Charlton counter-attack.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Not in the least. Stats-wise, Brentford enjoyed 62% possession during the match. They just weren’t able to make that count. They also matched Charlton pretty much shot for shot – with Charlton keeper Hendricks pulling off a number of fine saves. And as 90 minutes approached, the Bees could have even taken all three points as a Judge shot rattled off the crossbar.

Pritchard looked very exciting and lively. Not everything came off but this was his debut Bees match. He will only get better.

Gray wasn’t getting much joy with the two meaty centre back duo of Ben Haim and Bikey. My personal opinion even before this game is … I like Gray .. but think the pressure is too much for him to deliver straight from the Conference to Championship level.

He would be a perfect player to come off the bench with 20 minutes to play at the moment against a lagging defence. Fast on his feet. Tricky. He’ll cause problems and that will send his confidence sky high.

Douglas had a great game in central midfield, working tirelessly in each third of the pitch. But bringing Smith on with the clock ticking, changed the game. All of a sudden Charlton, who were cruising, were on the back foot. They look scared every time we came forward.

A Charlton colleague of mine who was watching the game from the Ealing Road, went from comfortable to agitable commenting “You look like you’re gonna score any time now” minutes before Smith put the ball in the back of the net.

Smith’s experience in rattling defences showed.

The most important thing was the fact that Brentford came out of this game unscathed. Psychologically that was key.

And what’s even more positive, everyone realises there is still a lot of work to do be done.

We have the raw materials to compete in this division. We just need to fine tune what we have got and add appropriately.

The next few weeks will be key to keeping the positivity going. Saturday’s game away to Bournemouth will be a tough test. One point on the South Coast will be marvellous. After that we have three winnable games.

Poor Blackpool are in a sorry state and are treading water at the moment. If there is any time for us to get 3 points from the Northern seaside town, it will be now.

Next up is Birmingham who didn’t manage a shot on target away to Middlesborough (4 shots in total in comparison to 28 from Boro). Then we face Huddersfield who are in a similar position to us – acclimatising to life in a new division.

By the end of August, we should have a really good idea of what we need to do to handle ourselves in this league before we start playing tougher teams like Brighton, Norwich and Middlesborough.

7 or 8 points would be marvellous. 9 or 10 and I think Mark Warburton will be punching the ceiling.

And I think most Brentford fans will be down B&Q purchasing boxes of ‘Ceiling Patch Up Material’ on September 1st if that were the case too … me included.


Button, McCormack, Tarkowski, Craig, Bidwell, Judge, Douglas, Pritchard (Smith 78), Odubajo (Tebar 46), Gray (Proschwitz 66), Dallas
Subs:- Lee, Yennaris, Dean, Moore
Goal: Smith 85

Charlton Athletic:
Henderson, Solly, Wiggins, Bikey, Ben-Haim, Gudmundson (Fox 90+1), Buyens, Jackson, Cousins (Moussa 90+1), Vetokele, Tucudean (Harriot 62)
Subs: Pope, Wilson , Morrison, Piggott,
Goal: Vetokele 64