Beesotted contributor Lewis Holmes gives us the lowdown on Brentford’s 1-0 home defeat to Brighton. Catch up with his thoughts here. Plus you can listen to the weekend review podcast and the post-match podcast in the links below
I am ever the optimist. I always look for the positives in any situation, and that goes double when it comes to the beautiful game. So it’s sod’s law that the game I stuck my hand up to review was our first Premier League defeat.
An unbeaten league run that stretched back to March came to an end under the September sun as Brighton pounced with a moment of class to nick the points at the death. For most of the afternoon, this game was a closely contested match. Two evenly-matched teams probing and testing without anyone gaining the upper hand.
I’ve been looking forward to this match all international break. Brighton are a team who closely resemble Brentford in ethos, budget and style. We’ve had our ding dongs up and down the league structure over the years and it was high time we tested each other at the top table.
For the duration of the first half and most of the second, the game was a battle of defences and midfields – the sort of strategic chess match that would only be unlocked by a moment of individual brilliance. As discussed in the Beesotted post-match podcast (link above), Brentford had the best of the earlier exchanges but for all their hard work, Ivan Toney, Sergi Canos and Bryan Mbuemo (more on him later) couldn’t break down the stingy Brighton defence. At the other end, Pontus, Ethan ‘The Mountain’ Pinnock and Kris Ajar repelled Brighton sorties with calm assurance and where they infrequently failed, David Raya was there to mop up.
In the second half, both teams were braver and even more tenacious in the search for a goal and at times, Brentford were positively crawling all over Brighton in an effort to secure the winner. As the game grew old, Thomas Frank brought on Mads Roerslev to shore up the defence. Matthias Jensen and Frank Onyeka then were bought on in an attempt to crack Brighton open but the changes ultimately achieved little. If anything, the midfield opened up for Brighton and they became bolder in the Brentford half.
Like I said, one flash of greatness was always going to decide this one and, unfortunately for Brentford, it was Brighton’s Leandro Trossard who provided it – smacking home a curler right at the end of normal time. Trossard was a constant menace and his constant probing was eventually rewarded.
It’s a sucker punch to the gut punch of a result but this is the Premier League. If you don’t take your chances you get punished.
Lesson (hopefully) learned for Thomas Frank and the team.
Best Bees performers
Ivan Toney was his usual imperious self, bossing the game and hounding the opposition defence. Brighton had him well marshalled but despite that, he never stopped pressing, running and just basically trying (I’m still marvelling at that beautiful long range punt of his).
The guy adds so much to our overall team game .He’s just so much fun to watch. In midfield, Shandon Baptiste grabbed his first Premier League start by the scruff of the neck, offering up several powerful runs into the opposition half and releasing Sergi with a couple of promising passes in the process. He’s going to be a great option in the continued absence of Josh DaSilva.
The defensive block were resolute until Trossard carved them open in the dying minutes. Thomas’s work there deserves praise.
Lastly, I want to single out Bryan Mbuemo. It might seem odd to most of you considering the hatful of chances he squandered (believe me, I could have easily put him in the ‘room for improvement’ section) but his desire to keep going, to keep having a pop, should not go unnoticed. Premier League defences have clearly been well drilled on Ivan Toney’s greatest hits. They seem less aware of Mbuemo. If he can steady himself, take a second to think about his next move and stroke it home rather than lashing it, he could be a formidable outlet up front.
Room for improvement
There are a few contenders for room for improvement for various reasons. Matthias Jensen is one. I love the guy but he deserves a mention here. As our one true creative midfielder, being brought on with 20-odd minutes at 0-0 means you need to change the game for the better, but unfortunately Jensen didn’t do that.
To my untrained eye, he has a touch of Romaine Sawyers syndrome. Going forward he is several seconds ahead of the rest of the field. However, when we don’t have the ball he is all too quick to fade into the background. A little more tenacity might see improvements that would please the whole Brentford family.
Next up (and this feels a little lazy but stuff it, let’s go there), referee Graham Scott’s performance was poor. His Wikipedia says that he has “a reputation for actively discouraging time-wasting, diving, and dissent” but I didn’t see any of that from him this afternoon. His performance is best summed up by allowing Danny Welbeck to saunter off the pitch without a word said after Welbeck exhibited two out of three of the attributes Scott apparently discourages.
Lastly, a word for the pantomime antics of Neal Maupay. We don’t expect deference and adoration from every ex-Bee, but I have to admit, I suspected he might show himself up on his first return to Griffin Park and aggy shithousing on your return is not going to win you any friends. As soon as Brentford had the ball out of the net after Trossard’s goal, Maupay donned his black eye-mask and went into villain mode – encroaching at the subsequent kick off – getting short shrift from Toney in the process – and then needling several times down at the corner flag to run the clock down. It wasn’t exactly Martin Rowlands kissing the badge but it was petty and unnecessary. So as far as this guy is concerned, Maupay has burned his bridges and should now be hounded from all corners of the TW postcode area forevermore.
Live by the sword, die by the sword my ratty little friend.
The Bees fans were in fine voice throughout filling Lionel Road with noise. Is there something about the design of our new home that amplifies the West stand crowd? I’m sure they’re the same old vocal mob as back at Griffin Park, but from my seat to their left they sound like an invading army.
Brighton fans – who we spoke to on the post match podcast (link above) – seemed largely mute to me (again, it could be the acoustics), only really sparking into raucous action after they got their goal. Both sets of fans noticeably piped up at Scott’s myriad brain-farts, so obviously the wisdom of crowd was bang on this afternoon, and Mr Scott should be punted to the Vanarama League as soon as feasibly possible.
It was, in the time-honoured fashion, ‘one of those games’. Had Mbuemo buried just one of his chances. Had Graham Scott gripped the game a bit earlier. Had Toney’s speculative lob dipped a little more. Then it could’ve been very different.
But it wasn’t meant to be
Brighton are no slouches and they have several seasons under their belts in the Premier League. By contrast, Brentford are just four games in. Fine margins decide things at this level – far more so than in any other league – and Brighton seized their opportunity while we squandered ours.
Before a ball was kicked at the start of the season, I think most of us would’ve written off the Arsenal game and taken the win here. So this puts us about level as far as I’m concerned. No need to fret just yet. So as long as Thomas and the team learn from this defeat and go into the Wolves game with a renewed sense of purpose, we should be golden.
Up the f’ing Bees!