BillytheBee and Dave Lane get out their video cameras as they hook up with Bill Murray down at Priestfield Stadium for yet another episode of Groundhog Day.
It’s gonna be a long olde season.
Brentford snatched a draw from the clutches of defeat with a last-minute equaliser from substitute Farid El Alagui to keep The Bees’ unbeaten run this season intact.
The result reminded everyone of the Bees’ fighting spirit and tenacity. With goals scored in 50% of our matches played so far in time added on, we’re a never-say-die team for sure. But it also brought it home that promotion this season is by no means a done deal.
The early season enthusiasm generated by a fabulous display of domination football against Sheffield Utd was followed by this less than encouraging display against a side who had not won a game or, come to think of it, even scored a goal all season.
Uwe was prepared for a battle. He switched his side around slightly slotting Diagouraga in place of McAleney, in attempt to give his midfield more battling steel.
And despite the windy conditions, Brentford tried to play football.
Chances for Forshaw, Logan and Dean went begging before Diagouraga had a great chance to put the Bees ahead. After brilliant one-touch approach play from Donaldson and Logan, Diagouraga puts the ball high into the Rainham Stand.
Bidwell was subbed by the real Javi Venta after being hacked down, and the Bees cards were shuffled with Logan going left back.
Gills temporarily took advantage of the disruption to the Bees ranks coming into the game somewhat. Akinfenwa, who looked like he may be taking advantage of the Brentford’s membership scheme encouraging folk to stock up on pies if they are unable to make the match, laid the ball off for Lee who blasted over from 20yds. Dean cleared a shot from Martin and Button saved a header from Barrett.
At the other end Bees were beginning to get into their stride again. Forshaw’s shot was saved and Diagouraga picked up the loose ball and shot just wide. Forshaw threads a great ball through to Grigg in the area who shoots just wide. There were also missed chances for Saville and Grigg again.
Then a move that would have undoubtedly been goal of the week. Too many passes to mention in the approach play, the ball is crossed in by McCormack to Donaldson who heads the ball into the back of the net – only to be given offside.
Needless to say, that moment turned the game on its head.
A Miles Weston cross to ‘pie eater number 2’ Danny Kedwell was knocked down to ‘pie eater number 1’ Adebayo Akinfenwa. His badly hit shot was saved by Button before trickling into the goal. Gills were one goal up completely against the run of play.
The Bees almost pulled it back when Craig headed just over the bar but the game went into half-time with The Bees one goal down.
HT. Gillingham 0 Brentford 1
Needless to say, in the second half Gillingham were very happy to play as the away team. If you thought they didn’t create very many chances in the first half, they created even less in the second. Martin Allen was quite happy to throw all of his rather large players behind the ball – a game-plan as we all know Brentford historically have had great problems in trying to deal with – and hit Brentford on the break.
Mad Dog’s plan was working. The Gills worked hard to ensure that we struggled to play our free-flowing football and pressed us into making mistakes and giving away the ball.
Both Saville and Diagouraga did not have their best of games in the ‘red and white stripes with red backs’ it has to be said. Guilty of losing the ball in possession too many times and struggling against ever battling Gills players who were up for a fight.
Whilst trying to stick to our passing game, frustration often set in with the ball being played up in the air – a tactic which suited the Gills players down to a tee. Surely, if we’re looking to play that type of game, Farid El Alagui was your man? Needless to say, on 74 minutes Farid replaced Diagouraga.
More chances went amiss with Forshaw shooting just wide from 30yds and Donaldson missing the target.
At the other end Button, who was guilty of a number of Stuart Nelson-esque clearances into touch, laid his claim to the No 1 shirt with two excellent close-range stops – the first from Weston then the follow-up from Lee.
Bees had more half chances to equalise in the final minutes – the best falling to Donaldson who’s shot came off the outside of the post.
And with four minutes of additional time added on, the Bees were given a free kick half way in the Gills half. Surely this was going to be the last kick of the game. Forshaw plays the ball in, Dean heads, Farid is first off the mark and slams the ball into the top of the net amidst scenes of mayhem in the Bobby Moore Stand … And dejection in the Rainham stand.
Straight from the kick off, Gills almost took the lead once again with a missed shot followed by a feigned penalty dive but the Brentford fans didn’t care as all 1200 of them were party hearty as the referee blew for full time.
FT. Gillingham 1 Brentford 1
So lets throw all our cliches into the pot now. Yes – win all your home games, draw all your away games and you win the league. Yes – if you play badly and still get a point, that’s the sign of a promotion side. Yes – if you have the ball loads and create loads of chances, you increase your possibility of scoring. Yes – it’s early days and the team needs a few more games to gel.
But there was something worryingly Groundhog Day about our trip to The Priestfield Stadium yesterday.
The stats say it all. Brentford had 15 shots compared to Gillingham’s 3. Of those, 5 were on target for the Bees and 2 for the Gills. Brentford also had 57% possession. Gillingham fans felt aggrieved after the game as they felt they should have won. Maybe yes they should have for preventing us from getting anywhere near the goal … But certainly not for their goalmouth activity.
Gills fan @damojarrett on twitter commented “Second half you passed it around, but did nothing”. Was he watching Brentford away last season .. Or Brentford this season? It’s all starting to merge into one.
Lets calm down now and take a dose of the reality pill. The truth is we have a long long way to go. And we have an incredible strength in depth with our squad which will undoubtedly pay dividends after Xmas when fitness and injuries start to take their toll with the other teams around the league.
But the fact is Brentford still has to learn how to deal with teams who bully us out of the game, stop us from playing football and throw 11 men behind the ball. It cost us big style last season and if we are to go one step beyond this season, we need to work out how to deal with the bully boys and the scupperers of Division 1.