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December and January are the busiest times of the season – it is also cold, wet, and often depressing. We’re 25-plus games in and the players are knackered – and as for the fans – we are jaded, having traveled up and down the county for months, with many now having to pick and choose games as finances have become stretched. This is the time of the season when the whole club really shows what it’s made of. And on Saturday’s showing, with 2,700 loyal fans heading in droves to Sussex, and the players securing another notable victory, the class of 2014/15 are just that… Pure class.

Brentford fans are fully aware that their side haven’t had a great December and January when compared to twelve months ago, when we won five matches back-to-back. Losses against Huddersfield, Ipswich and Wolves in the League, coupled with being dumped out of the FA cup by Brighton, saw the Bees lose some of the momentum they’d built up during November’s amazing winning run. But the Bees are very much still in the game.

Mark Warburton’s preferred policy of sh!t or bust has seen The Bees either win … Or lose. There’s no in between currently… there’s simply no point in a point!

Compare our record to the teams around us. Brentford have won 14 games this season. Only one less than top-of-the table Bournemouth. The same as impressive Ipswich and Derby. And more than the likes of Norwich, Watford and Boro, who all dispatched us earlier in the campaign.

The fact that we are the team with the lowest amount of draws in the Championship says a lot about our philosophy – just four in total. And any fears fans had after we were kippered by more physical teams such as Ipswich, Wolves, and to a certain extent Huddersfield, have been waved away…

Our expansive style of passing football, on occasions, makes it difficult for us to muck in and grind out a result against certain sides – but consecutive wins agains Rotherham and Brighton indicates the team are learning very fast indeed – two excellent, if slightly scrappy, wins have seen The Bees firmly shoe-horned in the Championship play-off places.

In front of a near sell-out crowd, Brighton enjoyed much of the early play on Saturday, with David Button saving well from Calderon, Baldock and the fantastically named Solly March. But it was the Bees who broke the deadlock on 29 minutes when Stuart Dallas took advantage of a mistake in the Brighton defence, sweep forward at pace, before laying off for Andre Gray, who’s shot took a mighty deflection off Brighton’s Joe Bennett, and looped into the back of the net.

After edging ahead The Bees looked fairly comfortable, until Brighton went down to ten men – Lewis Dunk being sent off for a second yellow card after totally un-necessarily pushing Jota over after they were involved in a slight tussle on the pitch.

Brentford looked slightly nervy at times during the last half hour as Brighton looked for the equaliser, Button having to pull off excellent saves from Calderon once again. At the other end, Stockdale did well in the Brighton goal to prevent Douglas and Pritchard extending Brentford’s lead, and Jon Toral was not rushing home to watch the Football League Show as,  having done all the hard work, the Arsenal loanee found himself resembling Bambi on Ice in the penalty area with the whole goal gaping and Stockdale grounded. Fortunately the miss didn’t affect the result.

Some say stats mean nothing. But Brentford’s 56% possession away from home tells the story of which team had kept hold of the ball better. The three shots on target from 14 is slightly more telling, and possibly sums up why Mark Warburton was unhappy in the post-match Press conference.

“Had we taken our chances it would have been a more comprehensive result. It looked like a hard-earned victory so we have to be more clinical”.

Fans in our post-match podcast felt that Brentford didn’t play exceptionally well, but ground out a professional result.

On the plus side, Button had a fantastic match, whilst the defence looked far more solid. Admittedly, there were still a few un-necessary moments, which saw defenders give the ball away when they didn’t need to, but luckily, Brighton were relatively impotent up-front. These rough edges are something we clearly need to work before we come across more dangerous opposition – but none of us are pretending we are the finished article – the Bees are very much work in progress for Mark Warburton and his coaching team – but they have done an incredible job already.

Next week the Bees travel to Norwich for a game that will undoubtedly prove to be a far sterner test. With a new manager on-board, and enjoying a positive start at Carrow Road, we can only hope the “new manager effect” will wear off as it undoubtedly did for Chris Hughton on Saturday.

Let’s wrap this report up by repeating Andy Stephenson words during his report on BBC’s Final Score: “Brentford – genuine promotion contenders – make no mistake!”

Some fans may refuse to acknowledge the fact that Brentford are a Top Six side on merit, but their teams are going to have to beat us to knock us off our perch. That, as we are proving, is certainly not easy.

BillytheBee
@billythebee99

 

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