After a tawdry week in TW8, Mark Warburton’s thrilling Brentford team bounced back in spectacular fashion to beat much fancied Bournemouth to secure “The Tinpot Cup”.
The starting XI was boosted by the return of Tarks and Judge and both players raced up the gears quickly to remind the Griffin Park faithful what they had been missing – Tarkowski strong and impressive at the back, Judge buzzing around in midfield and turning the dial in Brentford’s favour.
Stuart Dallas had been restored to left back after a poor showing from Yennaris last weekend and was called into early action as Muff sought to attack through the unusually surly Matt Ritchie.
Talk in the pub had been the need for a settling early goal which was duly provided when a wriggling run and cross from Pritchard was driven home at the back post by Jonathan Douglas.
Bournemouth showed their merits throughout the game with some swift passing play and Callum Wilson’s movement produced a good early save from Button.
Jota then took his turn to impact on proceedings, dancing across the pitch and firing in a low howitzer which was tipped away by Boruc.
Bournemouth were soon level in mildly slapstick fashion, a route one ball over the top was helped on it’s way by the stretching Toumani before Pugh blundered the ball past Button and onto the post before firing home the rebound. Pugh decided to celebrate in from of the home fans like a crowing cockerel – although the smile was wiped off his face late in the game after coming out the face down loser from a 50/50 with Alan McCormack. Pride comes before a pole-axeing and all that.
Brentford bounced back swiftly from the equaliser with Gray seeing a shot cleared from the line whilst a lively attack by the visitors was curtailed when Mike Dean booked the moaning Kermogant for a blatant dive. Muff diving was a repeating theme throughout the afternoon.
Just before the half time whistle, the Bees were ahead again. Wilson flattened Gray outside the box and Pritchard’s swerving free kick was flapped into his own net by Boruc. “It’s all your fault” as the song goes.
Eddie Howe made a decisive change at the break, removing the yellow carded liability of Ritchie for the small but dynamic Fraser who drove at the resilient Dallas time and time again in a captivating Battle Royale. Bournemouth started to find their feet and conjured up a period of pressure where both David Button and the woodwork stood firm.
Bournemouth’a search for an equaliser started to open them up at the back and Brentford’s lively and inventive counter attacking presented a host of opportunities to increase their lead as Boruc made amends for his earlier butterfingers with a series of thwarting saves from Jota, Chris Long and Pritchard. The awakening Jota – who worked notably hard defensively yesterday – also rattled the bar with a spectacular flying drive.
Deep into stoppage time The Bees earned their just rewards when Pritchard’s incisive cross was prodded home by Chris Long for his debut goal following his loan move from Everton. The youngster roared with delight in front of a pulsating Ealing Road as fans and players came together to draw a line behind the recent off pitch uncertainty.
Warbs was cheered from the pitch as a hero – he had been cheered onto it in similar fashion – whilst the home fans also declared their support for Matthew Benham. It’s a difficult situation but one that both playing staff and fans showed they can put behind them until May.
Brentford remain in 7th place in the Championship but, with a number of teams above them losing, a play off berth or even automatic promotion menu remains on the menu for this hungry young squad.