Brentford were swept away by Middlesbrough on Saturday and there can have been few complaints in the Bees camp regarding the score-line in a game where we created precious little in terms of quality – this was the flip side of the rousing Norwich display on Tuesday.
Boro made it three wins in a week – while Brentford have conceded nine goals in the same period – something that needs addressing quickly if our encouraging start to the campaign isn’t going to be undone before our eyes.
In all of Brentford’s fixtures so far this term there has been a certain battling spirit that has kept us in the contest even if we fall behind. That ingredient was very much missing at The Riverside, despite The Bees enjoying plenty of toothless possession.
The better side undoubtedly won on the day, but it was too easy for Aitor Karanka’s side, who never looked in danger of dropping home points without ever moving into top gear.
There was nothing separating the sides on paper until Grant Leadbetter’s thunderbolt ten minutes before the break – his cracking shot from 30-plus yards whistled past the diving David Button. But with their noses in front there was no turning back and the 15,000 home fans rattling around their oversized stadium were treated to a second half which would have almost been worth the £30 admission fee.
From what several of their fans told us before the match, ticket prices are sadly keeping thousand away because they simply can’t afford to watch their home-town team and the subdued atmosphere is proof of that.
Admittedly, two of the goals Brentford conceded were out of the top draw. But we looked light at the back and lacked that bite in the tackle. The match stats prove we saw plenty of the ball (59%) but we just did nothing with it – Boro’s 22 shots, with nine on target, compared to Brentford’s 6 total shots tells you all you need to know.
They even played and scored in the last ten minutes with one less man on the pitch after Dean Whitehead’s lunge on Alan Judge saw a red card brandished.
Bees fans got behind their team well and there was a reassuring calmness on the train heading back to London by most. Nobody is ever happy to witness the reds go down so easily after travelling so far away from home but the overall consensus was there’s no need to panic just yet.
However, there will be calls to make defensive changes ahead of Leeds’ visit to Griffin Park next weekend, with Tony Craig perhaps making a return to the starting eleven. The Beesotted podcast, recorded on the train back to Kings Cross, raises a fair few post-match issues, so make sure you check it out.
Like the last time we were beaten 4-0 away from home – up at Bradford last season, this was certainly a game to forget. Brentford turned their season around a few weeks after that Bradford match. It’s very early days for The Bees in the Championship and the players – young and inexperienced – are learning new lessons every week.
So it may have been a whitewash – but if the team can learn from this defeat and put things to good in weeks to come then it certainly will not have been a wasted trip.