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Regular Beesotted contributor, Jim Levack, seems rather smitten with Ryan Woods… and who can blame him?

Next time you watch Brentford, try this little experiment… you won’t be disappointed. Spend five minutes of the game watching only Ryan Woods and you’ll see a footballer who must be an absolute dream to play alongside.

Always available, always thinking one or two passes ahead and constantly moving to receive the ball, he’s already my contender for Player of the Season.

He rarely wastes a pass, has a decent ping on him when he’s confident enough to try it and breaks play up before doing the simple thing, and getting us going again.

Yet there are still a few – only a few mind and probably the same ones who don’t rate Romaine Sawyers – Brentford fans who can’t see it.

Sawyers, for me, is a gifted footballer capable of seeing passes that few others in the Championship can… his flick for Lasse Vibe’s run in and chip off the post against Newcastle a case in point.

Sawyers has his detractors because he’s Dean Smith’s man and maybe because he has a languid style that creates the wrong impression.

But ask any manager which players he’d take from our squad and Sawyers would be right up there, just as Kevin O’Connor – solid, steady and always reliable – was always coveted in his playing days.

The conspiracy theorists who still mutter their discontent when Sawyers fails to compete for a high ball are the same people who may not know that he’s been told to wait and try to win the second balls.

Dean Smith is another who draws grossly unwarranted and fickle criticism. A few weeks ago I read that he “has a few games to sort it out” yet after the Newcastle game we are riding high on a wave of optimism… yet none of it, bafflingly, down to the pragmatic approach of Smith!

The Newcastle game brought Bees fans together in praise for the side, but Smith still took a kicking for putting Hogan on the bench and not playing him. Had it been me, I’d have said he didn’t come on because he’s still nursing a knock, but Smith opted to tell the truth… and got pilloried for it.

It was strange driving away from Brentford on a high after a defeat, with the scintillating passing of a ‘fast improving now he’s fit’ Josh McEachran fresh in the memory.

Which is why my first question to Dean Smith afterwards was to emphasise the performance rather than the result.

This was the day Brentford, with a 19-year-old left back who looks like he’s been playing for years, played a star-studded former Premiership outfit – parachute payments and all – off the park for long spells and reminded us all of just how far we’ve come. Again.

The first 10 minutes aside – I still don’t understand why we are sometimes overawed by a name – Brentford, even with Woods, Sawyers and Smith (irony alert), were the better side and deserved to win.

They would have done too but for the ‘big club syndrome’ that seems to afflict every referee who visits Griffin Park, the main symptoms of which are to suffer temporary blindness when a Brentford player is blatantly fouled in the box.

Before the Toon game I’m told Rafa Benitez insisted on visiting referee Chris Kavanagh in his dressing room beforehand. The sub-text of his rationale was apparently that “the officials like to see me because I’m a celebrity”.

Perhaps that was in the ref’s mind when Hofmann’s shirt almost found its way into the club shop early, but definitely this practice that clearly favours the bigger clubs has to be stopped.

Totting up the various appalling decisions, Brentford have been denied around eight points. That’s enough to see us sitting on the brink of the play offs and if we were there, perhaps the moaners who still don’t rate Sawyers, Woods or Smith would fall silent.

Though I somehow doubt it.

Jim Levack