Spread the love

 

Brentford held their own against a dogged Nottingham Forest under the lights at Griffin Park – a solitary goal from Scott Hogan dividing the two sides at the end of the match.

But it could have been so so different. This was a match full of unexpected moments. A second successive clean sheet for the Bees. Leo Sayer (who you can hear on the Pride of West London post-match Podcast) drinking pints in The Griffin. Could it get any more surreal than this?

The Bees set themselves up much better for this match – Dean Smith option to start with the same 11 that took three points off Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich on Saturday.

And the team played at a much higher tempo than recent matches – passing the ball quicker and pressing their opponents harder and faster.

Nico Yennaris was showing why he has become such a vital cog in the Brentford engine recently – lively in the middle of the park, breaking up play and laying the ball off… but also not afraid to have a pop at goal – his early shot whistling past the post.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the pitch, Callum Elder is having to acclimatise to The Championship pronto – winning his private battles down the wing with Pereira on a number of occasions with some resolute defending.

But it was as Forest started to grow into the game that the Bees hit them with the perfect sucker-punch.

The ball fell to Hogan on 30 minutes whose shot was brilliantly saved by keeper Henderson. The very impressive McLeod then tested Henderson again – forcing an even better save. But there was Hogan to tap in the rebound– a real poacher’s goal.

The goal must have unbalanced the Forest players somewhat as from that moment on they then found themselves continually falling over in the penalty area then shouting at the referee – who was having none of it.

Shame, as Forest were playing some decent football. There was no need for that nonsense really.

The teams went in for half-time oranges with Brentford one goal to the good – Forest looked impressive in parts – but didn’t really trouble the Bees up front. But, if there was ever a game of two halves, this was the one.

Forest came out in the second half hungry for a share of the points and Brentford we left fighting tooth and nail for the points.

Forest were getting the better of the midfield battle by this stage. The introduction of highly rated winger Oliver Burke midway through the half turned the screw even more. Forest were stringing passes together and making various assaults on Brentford’s goal.

However, Forest couldn’t find a way through. Their case wasn’t helped by Perquis receiving a second yellow card for up-ending Sawyers with 15 minutes to go.

That, coupled with a combination of Ryan Woods holding the fort in midfield, tremendous blood-and-thunder defending from Harlee Dean and co, and a blinding performance between the sticks from Dan Bentley – his three-points-securing save from sub Assombalonga in the dying seconds of the game was out of this world – kept Forest at bay.

Even a rubbish flare, left over from Malmo 79 apparently, let off in the Forest end towards the end of the match could not overturn their fortunes and Brentford ran out 1-0 winners.

All in all a satisfying result for the Bees who move up to sixth place in The Championship table.

Fans, who were slightly uninspired after the losses against Huddersfield and Exeter, can take a number of positives from this victory.

The team showed enormous battle and heart – particularly in the second half – to keep Forest at bay. Their players quite literally threw the kitchen sink at us. Brentford replied by battening down the hatches – matching their every attack with blood and thunder match-saving tackles.

Defensively we look much solid. Harlee Dean looks very comfortable playing beside John Egan and the team looks a lot less troubled with aerial balls being bombarded into the area than we have over the past two or three season.

Dan Bentley looks a rock behind the back four. Cool and composed, he pulled off a string of great saves to keep the Bees in the game.

In the midfield, Yennaris has become a key player for the Bees. When he doesn’t play – or has a bad game – we miss his energy. Lewis McLeod is also developing into a class player. An incredibly intelligent footballer who was unlucky to see his shot canon off the crossbar in the second half. It won’t be long before we see his name on the scoresheet.

Plus Scott Hogan – quite simply the guy is a pain in the arse for the opposition – defenders must hate to play against him.

On the flipped, with the team starting at such a pace in the first half, it was no surprise that the midfield was found flagging towards the end. Fitness is obviously still an issue. On more than one occasion, Sawyers – who had a good game against Ipswich – was found guilty of giving the ball away as he struggled at times to keep up with play.

We may be sitting in the play-off zone but fans are under no illusion, there is still plenty of work to be done to get the team up to speed. Josh Clarke did well in running at the Forest defenders and creating openings. But we’re light on the bench and are short of two –  possibly three – players to enable us to really excel in the league.

But that’s not a bad thing. With what we currently have on the pitch we have shown that we are more than able to hold our own against teams with twice the playing budget of us (Forest’s wage bill of £30m in 2015 was nearly double that of the Bees).

Get the fitness sorted, and with a couple of shrewd signings on the horizon, things can only get better for Brentford.

Let’s get up to Rotherham and make it three on the spin!

Billy Grant
@BillytheBee99