Regular Beesotted contributor, Jim Levack, looks back at Tuesday night’s top of the table clash between Brentford and Leeds United and asks what we learned from the encounter.
“Weird”, “strange”, “different” – if we created a word cloud after the draw with Leeds, all would have been dominant adjectives in the social media stratosphere. You have to agree it was an unusual night at Griffin Park, with Leeds arriving in West London on the back of a bit of a lull. Almost the underdogs.
Momentum, as Thomas Frank perhaps slightly unwisely suggested pre-match, was with the Bees. But as a former striker of some repute once said, “football… it’s a funny old game”.
There was little amusing though last night – goalkeeping icon (if Leeds fans are to be believed) Kiko Casilla’s blunder aside – as two Championship heavyweights slugged it out with surprisingly different MOs.
Both play wonderful football, but Brentford adopted a longer ball game to bypass the Whites’ high press and try to cope better with the swirling wind.
Leeds coaxed and teased, used the width well to find big gaps in the middle where a fit Kamohelo Mokotjo may have shored things up.
Second balls usually snapped up by the Bees voracious and wily midfielders went begging, and Leeds came again and again, only to be repelled by some superb and resolute defending from a defence in which Ethan Pinnock was outstanding.
And there’s the rub. A few decent chances aside, Frank’s side – now built on a solid defensive foundation – only occasionally looked vulnerable. We didn’t create much, managed little on target and, uncharacteristically, went long to beat the intensity of the Leeds possession-based game.
Yet despite all that, this was a damn good point that keeps us in touch with the pack – there are no prizes for being top two in February – and showed a versatility and resilience to our game that’s a mark of true contenders.
With 20 minutes to go, I ventured that “I’d gladly take a point from this” to regroup and get back to our usual style of football against Birmingham, Blackburn and Luton. Hopefully the latest bruising encounter won’t have taken too much out of us.
It was a weird evening but an intriguing one in which Brentford showed there’s more than one way to skin a cat… or attempt to skin one in this case.
Fine margins again. If Norgaard’s effort bends inwards instead of out alongside Said’s opener, we’re two up. Of course, Leeds could say the same.
The passion is there as we saw from Said and Bryan’s free kick fall-out and full time antipathy, but I’d rather have that desire than indifference. We can’t have the BMW stalling though – but if it does then none of the three should be considered un-benchable.
They’ll patch up their differences, Said will learn that taking a free kick on the right when a left footed effort might make more sense is the better option, and we’ll all move on.
Said is a prodigious talent but the day we stop learning, whatever profession we’re in, is the day we might as well pack in and go home. The same argument stands for caring, so the bust-up for me is little more than a storm in a teacup that shows how much they both want it.
A great point from an odd night then in which we learned that we can flex and bend to cope with anything… another great learning which will stand us in good stead during the run-in.