Brentford humbled Leeds United at Griffin Park on Saturday afternoon with a performance that certainly blew the cobwebs away from the malaise of the previous weekend’s thumping at Middlsebrough. In the previous two home games, the Bees had looked great, but vulnerable – against Brighton we won but let in two – then looked stunning for 70 minutes against Norwich before mistakes ruined the fun. But, against Leeds, it all came together. All the positive ingredients combined to make one mighty delicious red and white Bees cake and fans went home purring louder than the Queen after a phone call from David Cameron.
As widely predicted Harlee Dean was replaced by Tony Craig, and the switch certainly had the desired effect –the back four protecting David Button magnificently all afternoon – meaning the Bees’ stopper had a fairly quiet day at the office considering Leeds had won their previous three matches. Leeds’ impressive supporters (and noisy in the early stages) massed behind the Brook Road end of the ground were let down pretty badly by the men in white. Mysteriously, the match stats suggest the visitors edged it in the possession stakes, which can’t be right… from my vantage point the reds bossed it all afternoon and, if it wasn’t for an impressive display by Marco Silvestri, Brentford would have won by a larger margin that ‘just’ two goals.
Leeds’ Italian ‘keeper was kept busy throughout the ninety and early-on made a great double save from an Alan Judge free-kick, then tipped Moses Odubajo’s follow up around the post. But the Bees could only have themselves to blame for not taking the lead earlier than they eventually did, when, to the puzzlement of everyone inside Griffin Park apart from perhaps Mark Warburton and James Tarkowsi, the central defender had been nominated penalty taker for the day… up he stepped and slammed the spot kick so hard against the Brook Road stand that those standing in the lower trier were probably showered with cement dust and dead woodlice. Luis Adriano has written an excellent article on ‘spot-kick-gate’ so read that straight after this report and the accompanying FanCast video.
Fortunately the penalty fluff affected neither Tarky or Brentford’s flowing football – although a fair few home fans were understandably asking whether the miss would come back to haunt us later in the game…. it didn’t. An impressive first 45 from the Bees was rewarded just before the referee’s whistle for the interval, Jota’s delicious turn and finish was no more than we deserved… a very classy goal from a very classy player.
Leeds tried to up the ante early in the second period, but were unable to break down a stubborn defence, backed up by a masterful Jonathan Douglas… the former Leeds man is just so good at closing down players and reading where to position himself to best mark ‘space’… his man-of-match nomination was spot on.
For a stage in the second period Brentford came at Leeds in waves, with the home side stretching the visitors rear-guard to the limit – Silvestri first blocked a goal-bound Gray shot with his toes … Tebar’s delicate ‘lob’ almost came off to make it two… before Alan McCormack enjoyed a little slice of luck when his shot took a deflection and made the game safe. And it could have been more.
So often in the past Brentford have played games against more illustrious opponents and let the occasion get to them, they’ve played the badge and not the players, but not yesterday… The Class of 2014 are just that, ‘class’, and on our day few teams in this division will outplay us.
The stakes are higher, and we won’t get it right every week for sure, but the players have set the bar high and they are clearly relishing pushing themselves at this level… three points against Leeds United were completely deserved.
Watford on Tuesday night will be another toughie, but we must enjoy these landmark wins when they come before simply moving our thoughts to the next match… we not only beat Leeds United this weekend… we played them off the park.