Brentford dominated their encounter with Karl Robinson’s Franchise Dons on Bank Holiday Monday, but once again, failed to make their possession count – the Bees were hit by two sucker punches and came away empty-handed from Bedfordshire for the first time in ten encounters.
Uwe Rosler made a number of changes from the side that won against Notts County on Good Friday – Sam Saunders was dropped to the bench for Forrester, Forshaw came in for Adeyemi, while up front, Trotta was the preferred strike partner as Wright-Phillips, who was rumoured to have a dead leg, dropped to the bench. As the teams entered the field of play, hundreds of balloons floated from the Brentford end emblazoned with the word ‘mug’ and picture of a beer glass – referring to their manager’s spat with Brentford fans at Griffin Park in December.
Once again the Bees started brightly and had great chances to take the lead – Douglas, Bidwell,Trotta and Forrester all going close to breaking the deadlock. The visitors were playing some lovely football and there looked to be only one team who were going to take the three points – Franchise looking content to just sit back and hit the Bees on the occasional break.
Which is what happened with 15 minutes on the clock. Bowditch picked up the ball on the left and, with few options available, decided to take a 25-yard shot on goal almost as an afterthought. The shot would normally have been easy pickings for Simon Moore, but very unusually, he made a total hash of the shot and somehow allowed the ball to bounce over him and into the back of the net.
Even after the goal, the Bees took the game to their hosts, but for all their efforts, were unable to get the breakthrough. Diagouraga was having one of his solid games in midfield, sweeping up nicely and laying the ball off – Harlee Dean was also commanding in defence. The same could not be said of Marcello Trotta however, the Fulham loanee had another ineffective game up front, one that was best summed up after a superb 1-2 with Douglas, the young Italian squandering a golden chance to equalise.
In fact it was Franchise who came closest to scoring again before the break – Bamford’s shot coming back off the post. At the break, the 2,000 Brentford fans were left to mull over a lot of possession, but few chances, as well as the soul-less atmosphere in what is a desperately dull stadium – despite claims of a 10,000 crowd.
The interval also saw Trotta substituted by Wright-Phillips – the switch having an almost immediate impact, but Bidwell’s cross seemed to hit him smack in the face rather than the forehead, meaning the ball flew over the bar rather than into the net. A great chance had gone begging.
The second period continued much as the first had done – with Brentford dominating and Franchise sitting back. Wright-Phillips, Douglas and Diagouraga all had chances to even up the score, while Simon Moore made amends for his first half gaff with a tremendous one-on-one save from Bamdore. German then came on for Donaldson, who, we we can only assume, picked up a knock – there seem no tactical or danger advantage in the switch… Sam Saunders then replaced Forrester.
But it just wasn’t to be for Brentford, despite continued possession they were to be frustrated… And to rub salt in the wound, with five minutes to go, Gleeson picked up the ball on the edge of the area before hitting a crisp 20-yard shot, which beat Moore and hit the back of the net. Game, set, and match.
With results going Brentford’s way to a certain extent, the reds are still very much in the mixer. But this was a fantastic opportunity to cement their place in the automatic promotion spots. Fans were given good reason to muttering about Uwe’s rotation tactics on the way home – few doubt that Uwe is a great, honest manager who puts his hands up when he makes a mistake – but at MK – certain players that were brought into the side after the Notts County victory, simply did not deliver what was expected from them.
But onwards and upwards. Another trip, to another soul-less stadium awaits next Saturday, with rumours that Brentford will be taking even more than 2,000 fans to Coventry. Three points at The Ricoh has to be our focus and would set things up nicely for a rip-roaring run-in… Bring it on!
Referee: Stephen Martin
Attendance: 10,455 (2,030 Brentford fans)
MK Dons: McLoughlin, Otsemobor, Chicksen, Williams, Doumbe, Gleeson, Potter, Lines, Bowditch (Chadwick 62), Bamford (Smith 78), Lowe (Powell 58)
Subs not used: Smith, Baldock, Alli, Galloway
Brentford: Moore, Forshaw, Craig, Dean, Douglas, Donaldson (German 66), Trotta (Wright-Phillips 46), Logan, Forrester (Saunders 71), Digouraga, Bidwell
Subs not used: Gounet, Adeyemi, Hodson, Reeves