Bees overcame a dogged Reading team to win by a single Ollie Watkins goal. Beesotted contributor Jim Levack reveals six things that we learned from that Reading match. Check the views of both Brentford and Reading fans in the post-match podcast from the pub below

Ollie Watkins might be a centre forward after all

Ollie Watkins of Brentford celebrates scoring the opening goal. Brentford v Reading at Griffin Park.
Picture by Mark D Fuller/Focus Images Ltd

Despite my reservations over the lack of goals from the flank that his switch to traditional centre forward might mean, he’s proving me wrong.

His hold up play, bravery in the air, constant closing down of Reading’s defenders and decision making were pretty much spot on against the Royals.

He was first to the majority of balls, was alive to Henrik Dalsgaard’s succession of delicious defence splitting diagonal passes… and took his goal with aplomb.

 

Thomas Frank said:

“He was a constant threat. His link up play and work rate were excellent. He is our long-term future number 9, but if we have another he is flexible enough to play wide as well.”

These are the kind of games that define a season

Brentford ground out this win, put defensive bodies on the line and eventually wore an equally resilient Reading side down. On another day, with a little more luck and without some dogged Royals defending, it could have been four or five.

Thomas Frank said:

“We have played better than this, but this was one of those games where we performed well against another team in form and playing with belief with some top players.

We knew we needed to create the game and we’ve worked very hard on that.

We lacked a little bit of quality on the ball but in games like this we needed to work opportunities throughout the game. We did that and went one step more in the second half with a higher tempo, got more players in the box and had a good spell of doing that which led to the goal.”

Patience is a virtue

Brentford chipped away at the visitors and despite a slightly tepid first half on and off the pitch, eventually upped the tempo to rouse the crowd and make the decisive breakthrough.

Thomas Frank said:

“You’ve got to be patient during a game and during a season and we were. We showed we’ve learned a lot from that Huddersfield game in that we kept going and didn’t give any soft goals away.”

 

Ethan Pinnock is a model pro

Ethan Pinnock of Brentford. Brentford v Reading at Griffin Park
Picture by Mark D Fuller/Focus Images Ltd

There were plenty of eights and nines in the side, with Dalsgaard and Rico Henry both outstanding, but this was something of a renaissance for the player signed from Barnsley following a shaky start to his Championship career.

Thomas Frank said:

“It was a top defensive display. At one stage there were 35 second balls we had to deal with in the space of 15 seconds. I’m glad you asked about Ethan.

It’s a pleasure to stand here and praise him for a lot of things. While he’s been out of the squad he’s been patient, training like a beast, running harder and doing extra minutes working on bits and pieces of his game. We always knew he wasa different defender and he’s starting to show it now.”

Henrik Dalsgaard is the silent assassin

Henrick Dalsgaard. Brentford v Huddersfield. Credit Mark Fuller/Official Brentford Pictures

With the benefit of a summer break, the Dane has grown into one of Brentford’s most important players. Solid at the back, but a pivot when it comes to the quick counter.

Out of contract at the end of the season though, so what’s happening to keep him?

Thomas Frank on a new contract:

“I will definitely be recommending it.”

B Team influence

Jan Zamburek v Reading. Credit Mark Fuller/Official Brentford Pictures

I’ve watched plenty of young lads make their debuts in the side down the years. Most look shell-shocked, in awe and sometimes unware of their exact role. Not any more.

Jaako Oksanen and Jan Zamburek slotted in as if they had a dozen or more games under their belt, with the Czech midfielder in particular bringing energy and assurance to proceedings at a difficult stage of the game.

It’s a compliment to the ethos running through the club, which means giving them their chance isn’t such a risk any more.

Thomas Frank said:

“Jan has a low centre of gravity and a great player with a fantastic future in the game and we knew he could help us with his energy and ability to hold the ball up at that late stage of the game. There’s a lot more to come from both of them.”