BillytheBee reports on how Dick Turpin and his boys came down to Griffin Park this weekend and returned back to Merseyside with the booty
Tranmere came to Griffin Park and plundered all three points in what can best be described as a very organised and accomplished smash n grab.
Bees started brightly and a couple of chances by Trotta and Donaldson testing their keeper and showing early intent. Great work by Trotta, his stinging shot well saved by Fon Williams. From the resulting corner Harry Forrester shot over the bar. Donaldson also hit his shot straight at the keeper after a decent pass from Diagouraga.
Akpa Akpro recently back from injury, their main attacking force and one time leading scorer, was lively down the wing and had Logon on the back-foot on more than one occasion. Their game plan was very simple. Keep it tight. Don’t allow Brentford to play their game. Force Brentford into making mistakes. Get the ball up front early. Hit Brentford on the break. Akpa Akpro forced a Moore into an easy save at the near post in what was their only real clear-cut chance in open play in the first half.
Forrester was having a difficult time. Tranmere had done their homework and had him on lockdown. Rumour has it that a Burnley scout at the game was overheard saying that he felt Harry was too predictable and could easily be played out the game. Uwe knows we have an unbelievable star in young a Harry but is under no illusions that lad still has a lot to learn. Hopefully, Harry will forget the hype and realise that he’s got a good home here with people who believe in him and are willing to develop him. The grass is always greener and we’re all for people developing to the best of their ability but jumping ship at this stage of his career may not be the best thing for him.
We were giving the ball away far too much in midfield. Diagouraga had one of his frustrating games. Missing in action a lot of the time. Delivering a ball to the feet of the opposition the rest of the time. Forshaw and Douglas tried to pick up the pieces in the middle of the park.
Then in the 42nd minute, Bidwell misjudged a bounce in the middle of the park and the ball fell to Akpo Akpro lifted the ball over a Bees player and ran in on goal before laying the ball off to Amoo making a beeline for the Bees box. Harlee Dean came running across and totally mistimed his tackle taking Amoo out. The referee pointed straight to the spot. Quite surprisingly, he only game a yellow when any other day, a red would have gone down. Robinson dispatched the free kick sending Moore the wrong way. Tranmere were one up with their first shot on goal.
The second half saw Uwe looking to sure up the right hand side bringing on Hodson for Logan. He made an immediate impact. Down the wing, he played a low cross into the area for Donaldson who was flagged offside. Tranmere had their offside game on lock today but it was a dangerous move none the less. By this stage the crowd had been fired up by Tranmere keeper Fon Williams who complained to the linesman that he was getting snowballed by fans in the Ealing Road. The ironic thing is the snowballers were so poor, every single one of their snowball efforts was way way off the mark. If Fon Williams had bantered it out, it surely would have stopped. But his whinging just encouraged the culprits to up the ante .. and that got the crowd fired up. So it was no surprise when, five minutes into the half, a Bidwell free-kick floated into the area was flick headed by Harley Dean into the goal by the near post. The stadium, which was fairly quiet till now, erupted. We were on top by this stage and gunning for the winner.
Then a quick succession of events changed the course of this game. McGurk was lucky to remain in the pitch. His two-footed challenge narrowly missed Bidwell with the referee waving advantage and Trotta’s subsequent header just missed the target. Akpo Akpro was then substituted on 65 minutes with suspected broken ribs. Almost immediately, the repreived McGurk picked up the ball wide on the right, somehow skipped two defenders and slammed the ball home from the tightest of angles with only Tranmere’s 2nd shot on target totally against the run of play.
Uwe tried to switch things up bringing on Hayes and Saunders on for Forrester and Diagagouraga. Tranmere were literally throwing themselves behind the ball and blocked excellent chances from Trotta, Hayes and Forshaw. They were up against it and soaking up the pressure. Dean also had a free header just wide – interestingly Dean seems to be working himself more and more into the ‘Herman Hreidersson role’ for Brentford .. The attacking skilful centre back. Never a bad thing.
Fon Williams did well to get down and save a Sam Saunders free-kick on 89 minutes. And despite the referee adding 6 minutes for ‘snowball time’ and a 15 man melle in the Tranmere 6 yd box which saw Douglas get his 7th booking of the season (2 more before April and suspension), the writing was in the cards and Brentford fell to their first league defeat since away to Doncaster in October and the first home defeat since Yeovil – the first game of the season.
Brentford fans leaving the stadium were disappointed but not despondent. We knew a defeat was coming. If anything, it was disappointing that it was to a team we needed to take points off. The reality is Tranmere are a well organised side. Probably very similar to the Andy Scott’s old Brentford that people used to hate playing against. Efficient. Strong. Fit. Hard. 3 shots on goal. 2 on target. 2 goals. They did a job on Brentford. Their fans admit that they’re not the prettiest side to watch and they’re not the most skilful. History shows they create few chances but score with a high percentage of them. But they play as a team. They are very organised. And are perfectly set up to get themselves out of this division. Brentford are a different proposition. Uwe is building a team to not only get us out of Division 1 but hold our own in the Championship. Unfortunately, we’re going to occasionally come a cropper against teams like Tranmere. As long as it’s only one game every 13 though, we’ll be OK.
Brentford: Moore, Forshaw, Craig, Dean, Douglas, Donaldson, Trotta, Logan (Hodson 45 HT), Forrester (Saunders 77), Diagouraga (Hayes 77), Bidwell. Substitutes: Lee, Barron, Reeves, Kiernan.
Tranmere: Fon Williams, Holmes, Taylor, Daniels, Bakayogo, McGurk (O’Halloran 82), Palmer, Power, Robinson (Bell-Baggie 82), Amoo, Akpa Akpro (Stockton 65). Substitutes: Mooney, Goodison, Black, Harrison.
Referee: Darren Deadman
Bookings: Dean (42 mins) (fourth of season), Douglas (76 mins) (seventh of season), Bidwell (90 mins) (fourth of season), Bakayogo (57 mins), Williams (76 mins), McGurk (76 mins), Power (90 mins)
Attendance: 6,948 (481 away fans)