On The Pitch
Brentford ended their 13-game home unbeaten Championship run. James Maddison’s 30-yard strike was the difference between the two teams as battling Norwich fought out a 1-0 win.
Maddison curled into the top corner after six minutes to give Bees keeper Daniel Bentley no chance before letting himself down by winding up the home fans in the Ealing Road stand.
Nelson Oliveira almost made it two late in the half but his shot from the edge of the box bounced off the post and went wide.
Norwich’s early lead caught Brentford on the hop. Florian Jozefzoon should have levelled on 14 minutes but his close-range header was easily collected by Norwich goalkeeper Angus Gunn.
Yoann Barbet thought he had hauled Dean Smith’s side back into it with a low drive that flashed inches past the post. Jozefzoon also came close in a half which saw Brentford have most of the possession. His shot went just wide.
Brentford took the game to Norwich in the second half. But for all their possession were unable to convert. Ryan Woods’ low cross caused problems in the area but did not connect with a Brentford foot. Meanwhile, Harrison Reed went close for Norwich.
The introduction of Alan Judge and Sergi Canos gave an aded spark to the Bees’ game. Judge almost crowned his league return with a goal – firing his low drive just wide of the post. Whereas, former Canary Canos should have converted Ollie Watkins’ cross on 81 minutes – putting it well over the bar instead.
Gunn made a brilliant relax save from Watkins in the dying minutes. Substitute Emiliano Marcondes and Barbet saw late efforts desperately blocked by City’s defence in injury time of a match that – despite nearly 70% possession – was just not going to be for the Bees.
Brentford created a high number of chances relative to their possession (27 including blocked shots). The were also effective at creating goalscoring opportunities from long shot situations.
The Bees had a large quantity of possession in their opponent’s half, favouring long shots. They attacked down the right side and dominated possession (68%) with a high pass success (83% compared to Norwich – 63%).
Bees won the majority of aerial duels (57%) and edged in the tackling.
Norwich were effective at creating goalscoring opportunities through individual skill. They created goalscoring opportunities from long shot situations and were good at creating goalscoring opportunities from counter attacks.
They favoured long shots, attacked down the left side and had a high shot frequency when in possession.
Both teams were poor at finishing whereas Norwich lost possession often, gave away a lot of free-kicks around the box and were caught offside often.
Chris Mepham is turning into a key player for the Bees. Still learning, . There was very little he could do about the Maddison strike. But his composure in front of goal, his confidence on the ball and his ability to recover after making the inevitable mistake is a testament to his character.
Maddison’s strike after 5 minutes turned the game on it’s head as it had the Bees chasing the game – a position we don’t normally enjoy. With the ball almost permanently camped in the Norwich half in the second period, one would have thought that Brentford would have got at least a point out of this game. But it wasn’t to be.
What The Bosses Said
“I feel that the better team got beaten. I think Norwich will feel fortunate that they have gone away with all three points.The boy stuck their goal in the top corner and, unfortunately, one of the disappointing things for me was that our lads tried to do that a little bit too often. When there were better opportunities we were shooting from big distances.”
We were camped in their half for long spells and they defended deep like many teams have here this season. They have pace on the counter so we had to be mindful of that but I thought we handled them very well defensively.
The biggest disappointment was the (lack of) support Neal Maupay got.
He was on his sick bed yesterday and gave it what he could. I felt the supporters could have been a lot more supportive of him. He’s a good young player and what he needed was a bit of support.”
“This was their first home defeat since August so this win and clean sheet are simply outstanding especially when you consider it’s been a pretty difficult week for us with people leaving and coming in.
I’d prefer if we’d been better in possession in the second half and more clinical, but we showed great togetherness and showed great defending behaviours.
We had problems with injuries so to come here to Brentford, a side who have been on fire, and win with such good defensive behaviour deserves compliments. This was important for us because now we can start planning for next season without fear of relegation.
What the Press Said
“This was Maupay’s chance to prove that he could lead the line and, try as he might, it just wasn’t his day.
The Frenchman has looked good coming off the bench this season but, when he’s played from the start, it has been more of a struggle.
Maupay need only look at Romaine Sawyers to know that the doubters can be silenced. The easiest way to do that? Score goals on a regular basis.
(About Smith’s comments on a section of fans jeering Maupay) Now, I can’t recall Smith offering a similar response when Romaine Sawyers was jeered off during the 2-0 loss to Barnsley last season, nor when fans booed John Swift when he was withdrawn against QPR.
There are a number of theories as to why Smith would do it which I’ve suggested below.
1. To divert attention away from the imminent departure of Lasse Vibe by having fans talking about his comments, rather than questioning why the club would allow their in-form striker to leave.
2. To say, without saying, that Neal Maupay is the man likely to lead the line for the rest of the season and no replacement is coming in.
3. To try and show backing to the Frenchman who cut a dejected figure as he left Griffin Park after the game.
I wrote about Holloway’s comments at the time: “The only way you can get away with those comments is if you back it up with results, much like Jose Mourinho did when he criticised Chelsea fans for their lack of atmosphere against Rangers in the 2014/15 season. The Blues went on to win the title that year.
“Now, Holloway may well find he’s not afforded any sympathy if they have another bad run.”
Just change Holloway to Smith and my feelings are the same”
Gary Gowers. My Football Writer
1-0 wins courtesy of one moment of genius followed by rather more moments of undiluted brawn are rapidly becoming our thing; something that I’m fairly sure wasn’t on Daniel Farke’s CV when he arrived.
Yet wins at the Riverside, Bramall Lane, Portman Road, Ashton Gate and now Griffin Park have all been dug out in that very style. And in four of those five games, one James Maddison has been the one to provide the moment of genius
Oddly, still some found cause for complaint – frustrated apparently at City’s lack of “grip” on yesterday’s game – but this was a very decent Brentford outfit who are extremely well drilled and were unbeaten at Griffin Park in 14 games. Those who scoff at wins in that context are detached from the reality of where Norwich City is as a football club right now.
Yesterday’s win also brought about the added bonus of pulling level on points with that lot (Ipswich); again not something to be scoffed at given the significant points advantage they’ve enjoyed (and gloated over) for most of the season”.
What The Fans Said
Negatives: starting line up, Maupays non appearance, lack of movement first half. Too slow to change it up. Vibe Off??
Positives: Judge looked good if a little rusty. Marcondes looks v promising, moved the ball well and got into space. Few nice tricks. Canos. Watkins up front
— Peter Howe (@phathowe) January 27, 2018
Not sure we deserved anything Norwich were the better side on the day
— Gary BFC (@garybees10) January 27, 2018
We gave as good as we got. Mepham flew into challenges all game. Judge cleared out spotty. Canos as well. They were just better. Simple.
— Joe (@JoeCrippsThe3rd) January 27, 2018
After they scored (fantastic goal), their formation was 8-0-2
— St Jason of London (@SaintTheJase) January 28, 2018
Up until 60 mins, we were playing on the counter very well. Not a huge issue but thought in the last period of the game we were a bit complacent and invited too much pressure. Brentford were fairly unimaginative throughout so we coped with it fairly easily. #NCFC
— Sam Langan (@samuellangan) January 28, 2018
Brentford. James Maddison quality the difference Both teams good on ball. Ncfc can't continue to successfully defend so deep 2nd halves, no shot after 60mins.
Ollie Watkins & Jozefzoon dangerous but bees missing Vibe (big loss if goes) as colossus zimmermann stood firm
— ZLF (@Zipperslf) January 28, 2018
A bit of a reality pill for Brentford in their match against Norwich. This game (to a certain extent matched) our early season fortune. Despite having the ball for long periods of time during the match, we were unable to care out a result against a resolute Norwich side.
We have had problems all season trying to break teams down once they shut up shop at Griffin Park. We got a point out of Derby – who’s fans ‘complained’ that they didn’t see the ball down their end for pretty much the entire second 45 minutes of their match. Burton and Barnsley (both 1-1) also were disappointing results which saw the away team come to London to frustrate with an do-or-die defensive display.
Fair play to Norwich. They scored a wonder goal then defended like their lives depended on it. If the tables were turned, we would be crowing till the birds came home if our team was to put in a defensive performance like that.
Slightly worrying was the noticeable difference it made with Lasse Vibe and Romaine Sawyers – the two players who unlocked the Norwich defence up at Carrow Road only last month – not being in the side. We were fairly predictable making us relatively easy for Norwich to defend against. With Vibe on the verge of a move to China, Brentford are hoping that his replacement will provide a seamless join over the next few weeks as we continue our quest for a playoff place.
On the plus side, other than Maddison’s 30 yard wonder strike and Oliviera’s shot from 30 yards which clipped the post, our defence held out – looking far more resolute than it had done earlier in the season. A solid defensive base is key for any successful side – unless you are managed by Kevin Keegan of course.
What will be interesting is to see how the next month or so pans out. Who will fill Lasse Vibe’s rather big boots? The Brentford management have high hopes for Neal Maupay – saying he is improving in training week on week and adapting more and more to ‘the Brentford way’. Hopefully, that transition can take place sooner rather than later so that we can put little blips like last Saturday’s defeat behind us and continue to challenge for a top six place.
That will then give that added buzz needed to fans attending matches both home and away between now and the end of the season – with knowledge that our season isn’t actually all but over by February.
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