Brentford continued their incredible run with a 2-0 win against Port Vale thanks to goals from Marcello Trotta and Will Grigg.
The match was League One Manager of the Month Mark Warburton’s sixth straight win since taking over the hot seat, and Brentford’s 13th win in 14 – the Bees having won the last eight in a row – which sets a new club record.
The holiday fixtures had taken their toll with three players nursing injuries – Adam Forshaw has a calf strain after getting stamped on in the dying seconds of the Peterborough game – and their local ‘journalist’ Alan Swann had the cheek to call us the most cynical side he had seen. Jonathan Douglas has a hamstring problem, whilst Harlee Dean is also injured and could be out for a few weeks.
Therefore Warburton had to make some enforced changes, bringing Logan back in at right-back, switching McCormack to central midfield, Kev O’Connor came in at centre-back, with new signee, Alan Judge, added to the midfield.
This was to be a real test of character for a Brentford team who have seen most of their unbeaten run achieved with pretty much an unchanged side. This was the time to show how strong the team was in depth.
The game started slowly for the Bees who took a while to find their feet – but once they did – there was no looking back. By the middle of the first half, the midfield of McCormack, Saunders, Judge and Saville were literally all over Port Vale.
Judge, who took a little while to get into the game, covered every inch of the pitch and was unlucky not to get on the score sheet – two shots were well saved by Port Vale man-of-the-match goalkeeper Neal who also did well to save a Trotta follow up.
But Neal was unable to keep the ball out of the net on 30 minutes when Donaldson laid a ball off to Trotta, who curled his shot low into the corner of the net from 25 yards before kissing Farid’s coin in celebration – nice touch.
From there on in it was one way traffic and Neal did a tremendous job in the Port Vale goal keeping the score down to just one at half-time with chances from Judge, Donaldson, Logan (who tried to mimic his 20 yard goal against Port Vale from the opening day of the season) and McCormack.
HT. Brentford 1 Port Vale 0
The Bees continued to swarm forward in the second period with Port Vale somehow keeping them at bay and chances from Donaldson, McCormack, Saunders and Trotta went begging before Donaldson had a goal disallowed for an alleged foul. Saunders was also denied by Neil and Trotta, who is getting better and better each game, also had a rasping turn-and-shot pushed away by the busy keeper.
With 20 minutes to go Saunders and Judge came off for Reeves and Grigg, which further reinforce our attacking intent. Neil then somehow managed to turn a Donaldson effort onto the crossbar after pulling off a wonder-save.
But with the clock running down, the Bees produced a great move – breaking away from defence with Bidwell rampaging down the wing, before crossing for Grigg who turned to find the bottom corner of the net.
FT Brentford 2 Port Vale 0
The stats say it all. Brentford had 25 shots with 13 on target and 60% possession. Port Vale had no shots on target all game. Some people might moan that we didn’t score more. Maybe if Neal was off his game, we would have.
After the match there was a real buzz around Griffin Park. The crowds are creeping up – 8,000-plus fans in the house supporting the Bees yesterday. The seamless flow between Rosler and Warburton has really benefitted and helped to continue the cohesion.
And the players seem to be really enjoying their football. There is a real team spirit and the players seem to really relish playing with each other.
McCormack showed what an important player he is, moving back into midfield from right-back, he then flipped between attacking midfield, defensive midfield and covering the full backs. The guy is immense.
Player of the month Sam Saunders is enjoying his best spell at Brentford and Bidwell had a great game marauding up and down that left touchline.
And as for Trotta, well, he has moved onto another level. Incredibly skilful but now also playing as a team player with passion and prowess. He’s become a Brentford player through and through it would seem. You can see it in his face when he scored. The only problem will be if Fulham get relegated this season, it will be highly unlikely that we will be able to keep hold of him. But we’ll cross that bridge when it comes.
But it’s a whole team effort. I could sit here for hours spouting off on the merits of every single Brentford player out on that pitch. They all did themselves proud and made the fans smile.
And cast your mind back to this time last season. This team is a class above the side that missed out in promotion in the 94th minute of the last day of last season.
So let’s not worry about anyone else. Let them all worry about us …. for once.