It was a busy day for Beesotted with live TV broadcasts and all sorts going on in the build-up to the match. So armed with iPhones and laptops and camcorders and Ethernet cables, BillytheBee and Laney set to work hanging with the boys from the Midlands to find out who was going to win the battle of the big boys of League One.
The big day had come…
Beautiful blue skies…
Bees bang right in form off the back of playing Crewe off of the park…
There was a great pre-match, with plenty of good humoured Brentford and Wolves fan banter including the Beesotted fan pub debate which was streamed live on YouTube…
What could go horribly wrong?
This match was supposedly the clash of the two best sides in the division – a title which shows much disrespect to Orient, who have been there or thereabouts for the duration of the season.
And, as much as some folk were insinuating whoever won this match would win the league, we all know that wasn’t the case. But it would be a good barometer as to where each team stood against the pace setters of the division.
One month ago Wolves were losing to a very poor Gillingham side. Meanwhile Brentford were riding high after turning over Gillingham followed by an equally poor Bristol City side.
That loss seems to have been Wolverhampton Wanderers’ “Stevenage dressing room lock-in” moment because they haven’t looked back since – winning five games on the bounce before coming to Griffin Park.
The first half was a fairly tight game of football. Brentford dominated possession playing their passing game but a solid Wolves defence (which has let in 20 goals all season and three goals since the start of the year) restricted the Bees to a few half chances.
Wolves packed the midfield to try and stop the Bees getting a hold of the game as they normally do. They were happy to soak up any Bees pressure – pressing them tight – while hitting the Bees fast and direct on the break.
Button pulled off a great save at the feet of Dicko and the ball fell to Jacobs who just just about to let loose with a rasper when Tony Craig came charging in with a well timed killer crunch-tackle to clear the ball.
The Bees had a few half chances from Douglas, Forshaw and Saville. Judge almost repeated one of his Crewe 25 yard screamers but Wolves keeper Ikeme was equal to it producing a marvellous save.
But just as it was looking like Warburton and Jackett’s half time talks would be focused on how to break down the opposition in the second half, Wolves scored a goal which came pretty much out the blue.
Henry was about to unleash a shot on goal when Douglas flew in with a blinding block. From the resulting throw in, Henry crossed the ball into the area and somehow it evaded Button and nestled itself in the top corner of the net.
HT. Brentford 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
The second half saw the Bees chasing the game, piling the pressure on Wolves, looking for that equalising goal. Despite taking the game to the opposition for 30 minutes or so, the chances didn’t materialise and Wolves eventually took the game by the scruff of the neck.
The Wolves defence was solid as a rock as the Bees tried to find a way through, with Donaldson and Forshaw creating half chances and Judge once again coming close with another 25 yard shot – this time just clearing the crossbar by a matter of inches.
Wolves then hit the Bees on the break with a killer blow. Sako laid the ball off to Jacobs who, one on one with Button, slipped the ball under the approaching keeper before running over to the Brentford fans in the Ealing Road to dish out a load of abuse. An interesting reaction it has to be said.
Then, five minutes from time, Jacobs added a second – taking a lead out of Forshaw’s book last week by curling a brilliant shot into the net from 25 yards. At 3-0 to Wolves, it was game, set and match.
There was much debating in the pub after the game as to whether a Brentford had set themselves up right for this game and why there were no substitutions made earlier … ‘No Plan B’ was the blunt three word appraisal of more than one fan. There is no doubting Wolves are a very well organised side with quality players. Unfortunately for us, Trotta and Donaldson up front were not on their game, with Grigg only getting a four minute cameo at the end (which was still enough time for him to force a save out of Ikeme). And, despite both teams having a similar amount of chances, in the end Wolves (unlike any other team during the record run) restricted Brentford to just two shots on goal, whereas Wanderers were more incisive with Button being the busier keeper on the day.
Was it a case of Brentford once again choking for the big game? Probably not this time. We know what we’re capable of. We matched Chelsea ball for ball on this same pitch a mere 12 months ago, but yesterday, it just didn’t click for us.
It’s often too easy to blame the ref when you lose. But the man in the middle, Iain Williamson, had a bit of a shocker – both sets of fans will agree and arguably should have given the Bees a free kick on the edge of the Wolves area from which they broke away to score their all important second goal. But these things happen in football. And overall, all credit to Wolves who played this game correct to the tee.
Mark Warburton knew he had been well and truly trumped by Kenny Jackett yesterday afternoon. Yes Brentford may have been unlucky in parts and a three goal tonking may have flattered our opponents … but Warburton really needed everyone to be on the money to beat a Wolves team who were yesterday pumped up to the hilt on adrenaline for a battle.
An experienced campaigner is olde Kenny and he knew exactly what his team had to do to contain the Bees. Warburton’s post match comment that we would “learn” from this defeat shows that he knows exactly where we failed yesterday. At the same time, he also insists that we won’t be changing the way we play football and we will continue playing our passing game – learning from games like this when it doesn’t go 100% to plan.
So the season is far from over. Warburton targeted Brentford for 95/96 points for automatic promotion. That’s 10 wins from our remaining 15 games. Wolves need the same and Orient need 9 or 10 wins from 13 games. Both Wolves and Brentford still have to play Orient, so it’s all very much to play for.
Brentford have three ‘on paper’ winnable games (Carlisle away, Bradford and Tranmere at home) coming up before that huge six-pointer at Brisbane Road.
Looking on the bright side and thinking philosophically, maybe losing to Wolverhampton is another ideal moment of reflection for Brentford – after cruising the last few months– smashing teams like Preston, Peterborough, Bristol City and Crewe off the park.
That unbeaten run was possibly becoming a burden – maybe a short, sharp slap in the face is what Brentford needed NOW as opposed to in April … and then it’s straight back to business for the Bees to carry in where we left off before yesterday’s game. We can only hope eh.