On The Pitch
Brentford strengthened their push for the Championship play-offs with a 1-0 victory at Reading at The Madjeski Stadium thanks to a Lasse Vibe goal in the second half.
A run of five wins in six matches has seen Brentford build their charge on the top six – maintaining their three point gap on the play-offs.
The game was marked by two memorial moments.
Firstly, players and fans held an impeccably-observed pre-match minute’s silence in memory of Cyrille Regis – the former West Brom and Wolves striker who dies last week and did so much to fight the cause against racism in English football for black players and fans in the 70’s and 80’s at a time where racism was rife within the game and society.
Then there was a stadium-wide one minutes’ applause on 19 minutes in memory of 19-year-old Reading fan, Tom Stead, who tragically passed away on Boxing Day.
It was Reading who took the game to Brentford who were more than happy to sit back and soak up the pressure. Kelly and Bodvarsson created chances which were ably dealt with by the Brentford defence.
When Reading gave the ball away, Brentford were quick and effective on the break. Vito Mannone was busy – pulling off a couple of quality saves from Vibe, Barbet whilst Ollie Watkins and Jozefzoon also went close.
Reading started the second half much better – taking the game to Brentford. However, it was actually Brentford who should have taken the lead. Jozefzoon – who found himself unchallenged in the penalty area – saw a goalbound effort cleared off the line by half-time substitute Blackett.
Bodvarssen went close for Reading and Kelly’s 20 yard free kick hit the top of the crossbar whilst Manone saved superbly from Mokotjo.
However, it was Brentford who took the lead on 74 minutes after Mo Barrow missed an opportunity to take the lead for Reading. the Bees hit The Royals on the break and, after the Reading defence failed to clear on a number of occasions, Lasse Vibe lashed the ball home to send the 3,000 Brentford fans into spasms of joy.
Reading threw the kitchen sink at Brentford in the final minutes but the Bees held out for the win.
A reverse in the possession stats that we normally see on match-days sees Reading with the lions share of the ball with 53% of the possession. However, reflecting their fans’ pre-match analysis of their team, they were far less effective with the ball than The Bees who had 17 shots (10 on target) to The Royals 10 (3 on target).
What was interesting was the Bees were deemed on paper at least the ‘dirtier’ team on the day with 12 fouls – to Reading’s 8 – and four yellow cards. Taking a leaf out of Middlesboro’s book – a tactic which could have seen us bag two extra points against QPR and Bristol City maybe .
Key Player – Lasse Vibe
Quite a few players stepped up to the plate today. Dan Bentley pulled of a number of crucial saves to keep Reading at bay.
Andreas Bjelland is showng what he lacks in pace he more than makes up for in experience and positional sense. Kamo Mokotjo showed why the called him “The General” at FC Twente with a commanding performance which should have bagged him a goal or two.
But it was Lasse Vibe who scored the winner and caused all manner of problems with the Reading defence who provided the key to unlock the door on a freezing afternoon.
Having been held at bay for over 70 minutes, it was Dan Bentley’s tremendous save from Mo Barrow that started the move culminating in Lasse Vibe scoring.
Had Barrow scored, it could have been a different story that afternoon.
What The Bosses Said
Dean Smith, Brentford
“It was evenly contested for long periods but we created the better chances. The lads worked very hard today. The plan was to press them high where we could. Lasse Vibe worked his socks off up front, It was very hard for our front three because of the way that they play. There were high demands on them to go and press a little bit higher but they did really well.
There were nearly 3,000 supporters here today giving us great, vocal support all game. It was only fitting that the players went over and showed the fans the respect and said thank you for getting behind them. Hopefully they are enjoying the football and that can continue”.
Jaap Stam, Reading
“At times our decision making, our accuracy in passing which is not good enough. Sometimes in winning the second ball we can do better. We had it already a couple of times this season – an opportunity to score and then the opposition comes out and scores. You need to take opportunities if they are there and not give away too many.
Yes I do think so (Reading escape relegation). There is enough quality within the team to do better than this. But sometimes it is down to making the right choice or having the confidence to step up and changing our own game.”
What the Press Said
Tom Moore, Get West London
“That was the sort of game Brentford would have dropped points in earlier this season. But they were able to keep Reading at bay. In a way, the Bees played better at the start of the campaign but without the rewards.
Failing to take chances opens you up to being hit by a sucker punch. I’m sure Brentford know they must make things a bit easier for themselves and ease the nerves of the supporters a bit more.
Can Brentford finish in the top six with this squad? Absolutely they can. They now have the momentum with them and are able to see games out and are picking up points at will.
The club must feel there is something special at Griffin Park. The fans do, which is why they are turning out in their numbers to back their side.
A victory against Norwich next weekend could see them climb into the top six and the gap to other sides in the mix is also closing as well.
The talk should no longer be about selling players but discovering if there are players out there that can come in and lift the squad further.”
John Wells. Hob Nob Anyone
Reading came off second best against an impressive Brentford side to slide closer to the wrong end of the table. Brentford had the look of team destined for a play-off spot and Reading had to raise their game to keep them at bay. Brentford were incisive and inventive going forward, but Reading were also looking to get at the visitors defence.
Brentford demonstrated another side to their game. Three cynical fouls in quick succession produced a rash of three yellow cards in the space of two minutes.
It was deserved win for a very enterprising Brentford side but I could not help feeling Reading could have taken a point. The afternoon was rounded off with an unwarranted chorus of boos and the usual torrent of negativity broadcast by Radio Berks after a defeat. Whatever people feel about Jaap Stam the team needs the support of their fans. Changing the manager at this point is probably not going to help. It has not been a good season to say the least. But it need not turn out to be the disaster some fans are predicting”.
What The Fans Said
— Channel 5 Sport (@Channel5Sport) January 20, 2018
— MPS Football Unit (@MPSFootballUnit) January 20, 2018
The Beckenbauer run by mephem through the middle yesterday showed his class and confidence.
And beljand has been outstanding
— brian gregory (@briancoolbee) January 21, 2018
That start might end up haunting you at the end of the season. Battered us at your place and somehow we stole a point. Glad to see it’s back on plan.
— Keith Farrow (@plod1956) January 21, 2018
@Beesotted Brentford right now. More momentum than Jezza Corbyn.
— Tee My Guest (@TeeMyGuest) January 20, 2018
— Peter Frost (@proficiencypost) January 20, 2018
Reading FC fans' applause tribute to teenager who died from cancer https://t.co/iT1UzSYnXt
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) January 20, 2018
— Graham Stead (@toms19rfc) January 20, 2018
We clapped like he was one of our own xxxxxx
— Just Mark (@bintwatch) January 20, 2018
This was by no means a vintage performance by Brentford. However, this was a game that we would have very easily lost two months ago – playing beautiful passing football with 70% possession on the day.
However, the book “The ability to win slightly dirty” must have been delivered by Santa under the Xmas tree of every player this holiday. When Reading looked like they were going to take advantage, we managed to slow the game down by any means possible.
You could feel the fight and the passion from the terraces. Those players really wanted to win. And they did what they had to do to get the points.
The Bees are seeming to gel just at the right time. Our defensive issues which have plagued us for seasons on end seem to be resolving themselves slowly but surely. Even with a makeshift defence.
The centre back combination of Chris Mepham and Andreas Bjelland seems to have the right balance of youth, experience and ability on the ball.
Lasse Vibe has once again found his form dead on cue – four months into the season.
And when you get success on the field, the fans come out to support. When this project started – when Uwe Rosler was handed the reigns and given the task to change Brentford’s style of football from more direct to a passing game, Brentford had a hard core support of around 3,000 fans.
Seven year later, 3,000 Brentford fans travel down the M4 to shout their team on – the biggest away support in the Championship (Sheffield United the next best with 2,400 fans at Norwich).
The next week is going to be an interesting one. We’re spitting distance from the playoffs and, with only 3 losses in 21 league matches and one loss in six, we’re bang on form.
You know the opposition hate to play teams on the up.
Which leads us to the transfer market. What is going to happen in the next week?
Interestingly, three years ago Matthew Benham was looking to strengthen the side this very window in an attempt to make a big push for promotion. We were on the edge of the playoffs and had come off the back of a good run in November and December. The team wasn’t strengthened for various reasons and as a result, we possibly missed out on promotion.
With players like Lasse Vibe and Andreas Bjelland being so key to the way that we play at the moment, will Brentford take a gamble and somehow come up with a creative solution to attempt to keep the team intact until the end of the season at least?
Of course, the ball isn’t all in Brentford’s court here. Agents will be working hard courting other clubs. And as much as many fans would prefer to see these players run their contracts down and be part of a playoff team than be sold next week and risk the chance of Brentford falling away, we know that’s not Brentford’s way.
But with the World Cup looming for both players, surely playing week in and week out for a side gunning for the playoffs is as important to these players as an extra bit of wedge in their pockets?
And a creative solution if it gets us over the line will be a win win situation for everyone surely?
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