LEEDS UNITED 1 BRENTFORD 0

Stewart Purvis joined the 408 Bees fans who travelled to Elland Road hoping for the best but slightly fearful of the worst.

Brentford held out for 81 minutes against a super fit and fast Championship team before yielding to two subs on loan from the Premiership whose pace created a winner. 
In the exact opposite of their last trip north against Middlesbrough the Bees started well but faded badly in the second half. Sections of Elland Road seating which were once left unpopulated and abandoned as a testament to the club’s demise were packed as 35,000 came for the visit of the club many Leeds fans see as a bogey team. They kept up a tide of supporting sound throughout and were not distracted by the return of former hero Pontus Jansson who got only the occasional boo. Those Bees fans who trekked to Newcastle back in 2016 will remember how the sheer scale of that stadium and the home support seemed to overwhelm the visitors from the start. This was different. Brentford opened brightly, pressed well, and had the first good chance of the game when Bryan Mbeumo hit the post after a run down the right. With Ethan Pinnock back from injury alongside Jansson, the defence coped well with the pace,power and commitment that is the hallmark of Marcelo Bielsa’s team. But in the second quarter Leeds had two good aerial chances through Patrick Bamford, one went over the top, another just wide. At the other end, in a game where set pieces seemed the most likely way to produce a goal, corners were overhit and when there were breakaways they too often petered out. But all things considered, to go in at half-time all square was an achievement. 
When the second half began a careless pass from Bryan Mbeumo gave away possession and for twenty minutes it was all Leeds all the time. Brentford’s midfielders and forwards alike were brushed aside, Sergi Canos looked particularly vulnerable, fans pointed out that maybe he was missing the customary cut out holes in the back of his socks. But the defence stood firm and David Raya never made a mistake. 
Then on sixty five minutes we were reminded that Brentford might yet nick this when Ollie Watkins had a rare strike. It went wide but Leeds were getting stressed. In their technical area no fewer than three assistant coaches, all dressed in Leeds branded grey pyjamas, shouted and screamed at their players. And sometimes Head Coach Bielsa rose from his upturned bucket seat to shout at his coaching team.
It was time for him to throw on the subs. First up Helder Costa, on loan from Wolves, who immediately made a series of mistakes. 12 minutes later Eddie Nketiah ,on loan from Arsenal, who has won the admiration of Ian Wright. Four minutes later Costa now made a good break on the right, Pinnock struggled to keep pace and the cross came over for Nketiah to put away simply. Thirty four and a half thousand Leeds fans went bonkers.  In the directors box Ian Wright, sitting just behind the Brentford delegation, was on his feet chanting ‘Eddie,Eddie’ into a camera for social media. 
Among Brentford’s subs Said Benrahma had the best and only chance but shot well wide. At the end Pontus Jansson slipped away almost unnoticed as Leeds fans celebrated their return to the top of the Championship on goal difference. What could Brentford take away? Not a lot other than to observe that many other teams will struggle even harder at Leeds. At the back there were solid performances by Raya, Jansson and Henrik Dalsgaard. But the midfield two- Jensen and Norgaard- are still learning their way in the Championship school of hard knocks especially when outnumbered. In his twenty minutes at the end only Josh Dasilva showed the necessary physical power to ward off the Leeds midfield. Kamo Mokotjo played 65 minutes for the B team the previous night so may be close to contention for Saturday’s game at Charlton but it feels like it will be a few more matches after that before Thomas Frank is clearer about his preferred midfield.
Up front credit to Watkins for commitment and non-stop running but no game time for sub  Forss this time. The only way to strengthen the striking options to replace Neal Maupay ahead of the arrival of Halil Dervisoglu in January seems to be to sign a free agent.

Leeds United: Casilla; Dallas (sub Berardi) White, Cooper, Alioski; Phillips; Hernández (Nketiah), Forshaw, Klich, Harrison (Costa) ; Bamford.

Brentford: Raya; Jeanvier, Jansson, Pinnock (Marcondes); Dalsgaard, Nørgaard, Jensen, Henry; Mbeumo (Dasilva), Canós (Benrahma), Watkins.

 

BRENTFORD 1 HULL CITY 1

Bill Hagerty sees Bees tame the Tigers but again fail to find that elusive winner:
 
Only the most biased supporters would deny that this result was a fair one, accurately reflecting a gruelling afternoon for both sides at Griffin Park. Oh, except blinkered supporters and one dissatisfied coach, that is. Sulky Hull manager Grant McCann perceived Brentford’s equaliser as offside and rated his team’s efforts as ‘a complete performance’, a bit mystifying considering they spent much of the later stages hanging on for a draw. Had he been in charge last February, when a Said Benrahma hat-trick helped the Bees thrash the Tigers 5-1, Mr McCann would doubtless have thought the visitors’ efforts then slightly incomplete. As for a victory, how about complete-plus?
Thomas Frank, a wise fellow, resisted similarly complimenting the Bees’ response to going a goal down – a rocket from the irritatingly dangerous Jarrod Bowen. He was, said the head coach, disappointed in conceding the goal, but expressed the view that the team would ‘get better and better, and better throughout the season’. Do three betters beat one complete, Mr McCann?
It was the introduction of Benrahma into the fray after some seventy minutes that emphasised both his class – no wonder close-season gossip about a possible transfer filled fans with dismay – and his ability to pep up the side just by being there.
The home defence had appeared momentarily to nod off when Bowen – voted Hull’s player of the season for the past two terms – found space to unleash his shot, while midfield cohesion stuttered like an old coked-up car despite the energy of Mathias Jensen and Christian Norgaard. Up front, Ollie Watkins and Bryan Mbeumo found the visiting back four and sometimes five hard to penetrate and Sergi Canos saw his effort to help out saved capably by keeper George Long.
Hull looked the side most likely to score and in the fifty-second minute did so, no doubt prompting the decision to bring on Benrahma, hopefully now injury-free, and Josh Dasilva for Luka Racic and Christian Norgaard. It was like turning the gas up high and soon Benrahma was instrumental in starting a move that saw Canos feed a galloping Watkins, who ended up on the floor with Long as the momentum of his shot sent it rolling into a gaping net.
Canos then saw his curling effort deflected wide, Watkins drew an outstanding save from Long and Benrahma popped up in the penalty area before being dispossessed. The tiger stripes on the visitors’ shirts began to droop as the defence faced a non-stop barrage of Brentford attempts on goal – Julian Jeanvier bungling the best chance when close enough to the keeper to see the whites of his eyes.
Oh, how the home crowd loved it, taunting visiting pony-tailed striker Tom Eaves with one of its wittier chants: ‘You’re just a sh*t Andy Carroll.’
Frank’s team is still very much a work in progress, but with Marcus Forss, a late substitute for Mbeumo, improving with every appearance and such talent as Dominic Thompson, Ethan Pinnock and Kamohelo Mokotjo waiting in the wings, the coach’s optimism is well-founded.
And after just three difficult games, the good news for the Griffin Park faithful is that Brentford are joint tenth (with Hull and Bristol City) in the Championship table. Leaders Leeds to come next and then second-placed Charlton, both challenges where completeness will be required to come away with any reward.
As for the Irish East Riding émigré McCann’s claim of grandiose status for his side, it cut little ice with the Griffin Park aficionados.
‘What a Yorkshire pudding!’ said my mate Charlie. 
 
Brentford: Raya, Jeanvier, Jansson, Racic (sub Benrahma), Dalsgaard, Norgaard (Dasilva), Jensen, Henry, Canos, Watkins, Mbeumo (Forss). 
 
Hull City: Long, Lichaj (Da Silva Lopez), Burke, de Wijs, Kingsley, Stewart, Bowen, Honeyman (Batty), Irvine, Grosicki, Eaves (Magennis).

BRENTFORD 1 CAMBRIDGE UNITED 1 (Cambridge win 5-4 on penalties)

Bill Hagerty sees Bees’ League Cup hopes shot to bits by a resourceful bunch of Division 2 strugglers    

 

Those buying a match programme on this evening of humiliation for Thomas Frank’s experimental team may have noticed, assuming they read it to the end, a prediction of the result from sportswriter Andrew Georgeson of the Cambridge News. ‘I don’t think I’ve seen Cambridge win a knockout cup game in the three years I’ve been covering them’ he wrote. ‘However, I’m going for a 1-1 draw, with Cambridge to win on penalties.’

Well, hats off to young Andrew’s perspicacity and to a mostly equally young team of Division Two players who arrived from the Fens with two 0-0 draws immediately behind them and not much expectations from the evening other than slogging all the way home again.   

Head coach Frank had, as announced, fielded a side peppered with close-season signings, some as yet unrecognisable and a few with names difficult to pronounce – dynamite points on a Scrabble board if only they were allowed.With Henrik Dalsgaard skippering a side featuring the familiar Josh Clarke and a midfield including the equally so Emiliano Marcondes with, varyingly, Ecuadorian Joel Valencia, Dru Yearwood and Jan Zamburek – hotfoot from Southend and Prague respectively – this looked an enterprising United Nations outfit. Up front, Marcus Forss was accompanied by Frenchman Bryan Mbeumo – a tongue-twister of a striker whose name was still being rolled around the tongues of some of us when the defence suddenly reacted like a drove of startled hares to allow Andrew Dallas to feed the unmarked Marc Richards. A veteran striker of the old school, he fired home at the second attempt after Luke Daniels had parried his initial effort.

Three minutes on the clock and one down, Brentford responded by putting together some attractive play and dominating proceedings to the extent that their possession registered not much short of 80 per cent. Marcondes struck a free kick straight at keeper Callum Burton and Mbeumo failed to seize a golden chance after a move so sweet it’s a shame it couldn’t be saved for later and put in a gilt frame, yet the equaliser remained elusive.

There were plusses in Zamburek and Yearwood looking creative in attempting to prise open a disciplined Cambridge defence, but the jury was still out on a pair of strikers conspicuously failing to strike when, on the half-hour Josh Clarke twice fell without any provocation and limped away, to be replaced by Rico Henry.

Cambridge, even more resolute in the second half, began on occasion to test the home defence, so much so that Bees’ possession percentage fell to 72 per cent. And when Ollie Watkins was substituted for Zamburek around the sixty- third minute mark, it began to look as though a Brentford goal was inevitable. Ollie duly obliged by providing a penetrating pass for Forss, largely forgotten but not gone until then, to beat Burton from close in.  But despite Watkins’ impressive presence and some fireworks from Henry, who twice went close, and a near-miss by Mbeumo when provided with what could only be described as a Maupay-moment opportunity, the visitors deservedly hung on to take the tie into a penalty shoot-out.

When Paul Lewis cancelled out Marcondes’ inadequate effort, any bookmaker would have still made Brentford favourites to win, but Luka Racic, so reliable until the moment, approached hesitantly and shot weakly for Burton to collect and then debutant Harvey Knibbs to propel Cambridge into the second round.

What’s your verdict? I asked my crestfallen regular companion. ‘I think we should sign Andrew Georgeson – he knows a thing or two,’ said Charlie.

Brentford: Daniels, Thompson, Yearwood (sub Jensen), Forss, Valencia, Marcondes, Mbeumo, Clarke (Henry, Dalsgaard, Zamburek (Watkins), Racic,

Cambridge United: Burton, Taft, Dallas Jones, Maris (Hannant), Dunk, John, Darling, Davies, Richards (Knibbs). Lambe, Lewis.

 

MIDDLESBROUGH 0 BRENTFORD 1

Stewart Purvis saw Brentford get all three points in their first  away game of the season.

For eighty years the Bees hadn’t got an away win at the Boro and then, like the proverbial London or Middlesbrough buses, two victories have come along in five months. It took Brentford until match day 28 to get three points away last season, now in only the second match of the season they showed the grit and determination that seemed lacking last time round and which promises well for other Championship awaydays in the new black and yellow strip.

It certainly didn’t start that way. Ollie Watkins, leading the attack again with a nice new long-term contract safely banked, said afterwards the team had been ‘sloppy’ in the first half and that’s putting it mildly. Thomas Frank fielded the same line-up which somehow lost to Birmingham, resisting the temptation to start any more  new arrivals acquired in that turbulent transfer window. But the Mathias Jensen-Josh 

Dasilva midfield which made such a good start in the first quarter at Griffin Park was less effective at the Riverside and lost possession with worrying regularity.
The main battleground was between the new look Brentford defence, anchored by Pontus Jansson, and the Boro attack led by Brett Assombalonga, whose substitution in the same game last season heralded Bees’s success and the beginning of the end for Tony Pulis.
Alongside Jansson, the aerial domination of Ethan Pinnock towering above Assombalonga was a joy to behold at times, but when Boro moved the ball to the right flank Pinnock looked less convincing on the ground. One of his mistakes gave away a corner and led to the ball ending up in the Brentford net. Goalkeeper David Raya, who otherwise had a good game, was caught out of position by the quick corner and Ashley Fletcher scrambled it into the net. Referee Stephen Martin decided it was Fletcher’s hand that had provided the final propulsion and ruled ‘no goal’. There were more scrapes: Raya made one exceptional save after Pinnock was again dispossessed, Paddy McNair went close and Assombalonga had a couple more chances before hitting the post. Brentford’s best opening came when Rico Henry put Sergi Canos through but he shot softly and wide. 
On the touch line Jonathan Woodgate, in dark suit and white shirt for his first home game as Boro boss, would have known his team had the best half. Thomas Frank, all track top, shorts and sunburned legs said he’d been ‘very disappointed’ . He’d lost count of how many times his team  gave away the ball. But  Brentford had somehow managed not to concede, they were still in it. 
According to Watkins, Frank was calm at half time, urging his players to improve their passing and that’s what they did when the second half began. Their press was higher and harder while Boro’s was lower and softer. The front three linked better, the midfield seemed stronger, Jensen and Dalsgaard had good shots. Suddenly ‘Come On Brentford’ could be heard from the few hundred Bees fans. 
Just a few minutes later a clever flick from Canos put him away from Boro captain Dani Ayala down the right, he advanced towards the byline and crossed for Watkins who put it away and peeled away to celebrate in front of those fans. 
Brentford were now making many more chances than the home side. Jansson went down in the box but the ref’s decision went against him, Canos made another long run but fluffed his shot.  
When Dasilva went down with an injury, Bryan Mbeumo signed from French club Troyes, was readied for his debut but in fact it was Luka Racic who was first off the bench when Pinnock, with a heavily strapped thigh, had to come off. Mbeumo did get on eventually and so did  Dru Yearwood, newly arrived from somewhat less exotic Southend.
What was striking about the final quarter of an hour was how calm and measured the Bees were, no panic, no harum scarum goal line clearances. Captain Pontus Jansson was at the heart of it,organising, cajoling ,he was even seen calming colleagues down at stressful moments.
Not so long ago we would have expected Brentford to concede the lead in the final minutes of a big away game. Remember Leeds and Villa last season. Now things seem different and it may be that Jansson is that difference.
‘ Super Brentford’ rang out and towards the final whistle Woodgate had his head in his hands while Frank was crouching, shouting, showing off those knees. On Tuesday night he can give more game time to his new players in the League Cup game against Cambridge United and we may get the chance to see Christian Norgaard in his first fully competitive match. Much is expected of him in midfield where starting places are clearly still there to be won. Kamo Mokotjo will soon have his say about that and upfront Said Benrahma will be back in a few weeks enjoying his new Number Ten shirt. There is a lot for Bees fans to look forward to. 

Middlesbrough: Randolph; Howson, Ayala, Shotton, Coulson; Clayton (sub Dijksteel 75 mins), McNair, Wing; Johnson  Browne), Assombalonga, Fletcher ( Gestede)

Brentford: Raya; Jeanvier, Jansson, Pinnock (Racic); Dalsgaard, Jensen, Dasilva (Yearwood), Henry; Marcondes, Watkins, Canós (Mbeumo)

BRENTFORD 0 BIRMINGHAM CITY 1

Bill Hagerty feels glum as Brum withstand a Bees’ battering to hang on and win the last season opener to be played at Griffin Park.

 

Things can only get better – and hopefully soon. Memories of last year, when a 5-1 hiding of Rotherham in the first game was followed by a flurry of point-grabbing performances that saw Dean Smith’s team briefly top the division, faded fast as Birmingham snatched an unlikely victory from the jaws of humiliation. We wuz robbed? Well, yes and no.

Examining the stats, it is difficult to comprehend how the home side could have emerged from the fray unrewarded: 76 per cent possession, more corners won and 15 shots to just one indicate that Brentford should have had the points gift-wrapped and been on their way home in time for tea.  

It is of course the unconverted goal-scoring opportunities that tell the full story. Birmingham’s solitary effort after 18 minutes – a pin-point accurate looping cross from Steve Seddon headed in like a rocket by marauding defender Kristian Pedersen – stood out like a diamond in a sack-full of paste jewellery. 

And, having surprised the visitors just as much as it did Bees’ players and supporters, it enabled Birmingham to hang a ‘closed’ sign in their window and concentrate on ensuring the opposition didn’t get in.  

With Neal Maupay absent pending his likely departure and Said Benrahma apparently nursing an injury, this was a new-look Brentford that from the start displayed remarkable cohesion considering that most barely had time to shake hands with one another since arriving at the club.   

Pontus Jansson has rapidly established his authority as captain and along with Ethan Pinnock brings welcome height as well as muscle to the heart of the defence. Matthias Jensen appears the real deal in midfield and for much of the first half Ollie Watkins, a lone ranger up front, looked threatening – only a deflection on to keeper Lee Camp’s crossbar prevented his fierce finish putting the Bees in front.

Josh Dasilva, not wholly successful in auditioning for the role of Romaine Sawyers’ successor, sent a long shot wide and then it was Emiliano Marcondes’ turn to put the crossbar under stress, smacking the ball with considerable vigour when a Maupay-like simple side-foot would have done nicely, thank you very much.

The supercharged atmosphere, affected only minimally by the choir at the Ealing Road end obviously being in need of practice, was boosted by visitors’ crossbar and posts coming under further duress and Sergi Canos more than once bringing the best out of Camp. Henrik Dalsgaard was a constant threat, too, commanding in the air and as a wing-back giving the opposing defence the jitters.

But with five visiting defenders strung out across the pitch to form a wall so forbidding that Donald Trump could dismantle and ship it to the Mexican border, home hopes began to morph into broken dreams. Legs tired from attempting to penetrate it saw Marcus Forss replace Marcondes to add thrust to the attack, but an increasingly frantic Brentford still fell short.

It was, said head coach Thomas Frank, ‘quite frustrating’, a considerable understatement for the faithful even if some of the recent arrivals deserved full marks and, with other new faces yet to be blended in, promised much for the months leading up to the emotional peak of departure from this creaky, memories-packed old ground.

Not the start we all wished for,’ I observed to my mate Charlie. That’s the first time since 1992 that the Bees have been beaten at home in the opening game of the season.’

‘But we won the second,’ said Charlie.

Brentford: Raya, Jeanvier (sub Zamburek), Jansson, Pinnock, Dalsgaard, Dasilva, Jensen, Henry, Canos, Watkins, Marcondes (Forss).

Birmingham City: Camp, Colin, Dean, Roberts, Pedersen, Seddon (sub Harding), Maghoma (Mrabti), Gardner, Davis, Crowley (Sunjic), Jutkiewicz.

 

BRENTFORD 1 BOURNEMOUTH 3

Stewart Purvis reports on the last pre-season friendly to be played at Griffin Park.

Brentford started without Romaine Sawyers, who at eleven o'clock on match day was announced to be a WBA player, and all three of last season’s most regular starters upfront. According to Thomas Frank, Ollie Watkins had a ‘niggle’, Neal Maupay had ‘ a lot of interest’ and Said Benrahma ‘had rehab’. The replacement front line was Sergi Canos on the left, 18 year old Czech midfielder Jan Zamburek on the right and in the middle was Emiliano Marcondes, with number 10 on his back and playing more in that position than a striker.

There were Griffin Park home debuts for centre-backs Pontus Jansson and Ethan Pinnock, goalkeeper David Raya and midfielder Christian Norgaard. The Spaniard and the Dane were soon in action preventing goals from Bournemouth attacks. Raya stopped Brooks and Norgaard seemed to block Stacey’s shot with his face.

At the other end most of the action flowed from the combination of Canos and Josh Clarke who seemingly had returned from the wilderness of a loan to Burton to contention as cover for Rico Henry at left wing-back. Canos’s energy almost got him into trouble when he dived into one tackle on former Brentford club-mate Chris Mepham, who shrugged it off, and another on Jefferson Lerma who noticeably did not.
Brentford had as much possession and bright ideas as their Premiership visitors without creating as many chances. And on a day when a new defensive formation was on show -Pinnock was particularly impressive in the air- it was disappointing that three goals were conceded. The first came when Jordan Ibe managed to outfox Jansson, Jeanvier and Raya to fire in.There could have been another goal just before half time when Raya, whose distribution had until then looked comfortable in the face of a high press, passed straight to Lerma but then managed to scramble away his shot on goal. In the second half Bournemouth scored two goals from crosses converted by Dominic Solanke and Sam Surridge, doing exactly what Brentford had failed to do so far, get a striker active in the box.
But now Marcus Forss, brought on at half time to do just that was beginning to warm to his task. Marcondes had moved to the left replacing Canos who was judged to have done enough. Forss played a much more direct and effective role than Marcondes had done. Josh Dasilva, auditioning successfully for the Romaine Sawyers memorial role in midfield, made one of his customary powerful runs forward. Danish substitute Mathias Jensen- one of six Scandinavians in the Brentford eleven at the time- played a nice touch to another, Finnish Forss. Earlier Forss had hesitated when a chance was on but this time he put it through the legs of goalkeeper Mark Travers. 
It cheered up the Bees fans, especially those soaked by a rainstorm and provided a bright note to end what had been a creditable performance overall against a stronger side. It also illustrated a selection choice for Thomas Frank before the home opener against Birmingham City next Saturday. If by then Neal Maupay has been sold or is distracted by the remaining transfer window, does the Head Coach go for Marcondes or Forss as his lead strike.  A straw poll of the Bees United board showed a preference for Forss over Marcondes as long as the midfield gets the ball to him quickly rather than trying to walk it into the net. Alternatively Frank could go with Watkins if he is still a Brentford player by then or someone we don't yet know of could have arrived. Bees fans now enter a 12 day transfer window twilight zone waiting to see which frontline will emerge to take the club into the final season at Griffin Park. 

Brentford: Raya; Jeanvier, Jansson, Pinnock; Dalsgaard, Dasilva, Nørgaard (sub Oksanen 85 mins), Clarke; Žambůrek (sub Jensen 71 mins), Marcondes, Canós (sub Forss h/t)

AFC Bournemouth: Travers; Mepham, Butcher (sub Cordner 78 mins), Aké; Stacey, Lerma (sub Anthony 85 mins), Kilkenny (sub Sherring 85 mins), Rico; Brooks (sub Surridge 71 mins), Solanke, Ibe

 

WYCOMBE WANDERERS 2 BRENTFORD 2

Donald Kerr was one of the 591 Bees supporters who travelled to Adams Park and saw deeper into Brentford’s rich seam of talent with few sightings of the bigger names.

 

After a summer break that has seen goodbyes, good buys and at least one surprising buy, we are now well into the phoney war that is the pre-season round of games. With only two weeks to the Birmingham game, many travelling to Adams Park might have expected to see a fairly strong team sprinkled with a few of the more promising B teamers. 

However, with news reaching fans of a behind closed doors game having been played against a Premier League side 24 hours earlier, those expectations were revised.

In the event, it was more a case of the B team with a few first  teamers ensuring there was sufficient experience to provide a genuinely entertaining  game for the 1500 or so that paid to see it. Wycombe had a similar mix on show, with three trialists in the starting 11 and 4 more on the bench. 

As at Wimbledon earlier in the month, the Bees started very slowly, perhaps in this case due to some  players adjusting to less familiar positions. Wycombe were sharper in the early moments and duly took the lead after 10 minutes, a cross from the right eluding the Bees defence and converted by one of the trialists. Up front for Brentford, Emiliano wore the no 9 shirt with the increasingly impressive Jan Zamburek and Fredrik Hammer busy alongside him, supported by Mathias Jensen and Josh da Silva in midfield. We didn’t see much evidence of the understanding that Jensen and Marcondes apparently developed at FCN but it was impossible to make any judgements in such a makeshift side. Jaako Oksanen was played as a deep lying defensive midfielder, at times making up a back three, and was not able to stamp his authority on the game in the way he had done regularly in the B team games. Pontus Jansson – did he look smaller in a Brentford shirt than he did in the colours of his previous employers – was very steady at the back and, apart from bouncing off Akinfenwa a couple of times, was never really troubled. He more than fulfilled his role as captain and mentor to those less experienced around him and made himself constantly available to receive the ball. Unfortunately, just before the half hour, Canice Carroll didn’t cope quite as well against “the Beast” when rising to challenge the big man in the box and as he crashed to the deck the ball hit the back of the net to make it 2 nil. However, 5 minutes later in one of Brentford’s few incursions into the final third, Mattias Jensen picked up the ball on the left and ran past two or three defenders and passed to Zamburek who managed a shot which the goalkeeper only palmed to Hammer to pull one back. The half finished with a free kick for the Bees which would surely have resulted in an equaliser if Jansson had managed to connect with a diving header. Overall though, the impression was one of lots of possession but chiefly in our own half. 

At half time, Thomas made only two changes, with Patrik Gunnarsson replacing Luke Daniels, and Ali Coote coming on for Jensen. And immediately it seemed as if we had changed up a gear, with Coote instrumental in much of the change of pace. Much more like the Brentford quick and incisive passing we are used to, with Tom Field and Josh Clarke both more dangerous on the wings than in the first half, getting the ball more quickly and taking the game to the opposition. Wycombe, so busy and at times threatening in the first 45, were much less dangerous after the break, and with Akinfenwa no longer there as a target man, they struggled to pose our defence any problems. Coote was enjoying the familiarity with Zamburek and Hammer in midfield, and was linking up with the ubiquitous and more effective da Silva too. It was no surprise when, on 70 minutes, a run through the middle by Coote resulted in the equaliser, his own shot rebounding from the post to the feet of Marcondes who put it away. 

As in all these pre-season encounters, the last 20 minutes were pretty untidy, with both teams making a series of substitutions. There were few goal scoring chances but it gave the travelling fans a chance to see a few more of the promising B team squad, with Kane O’Connor looking assured at centre half, a position in which we appear to have strength in depth, and Gustav Mogensen looking as if he could in time fill the role of old fashioned big target man up front. He came on for the last ten minutes with Cole da Silva and Jayden Onen 

Overall, more interesting for sight of the potential talent lying behind the first team, with several individuals providing confidence that the business model is working. A behind closed doors game against Norwich in mid week will all but complete the “practice” games with the final one against Bournemouth to follow next Saturday. With so much focus on more potential ins and outs“will he stay or will he go?” it will be a relief when the real business starts on August 3rd.

 

Wycombe Wanderers: Allsop; McCarthy (sub Trialist 62 mins), Stewart, Trialist, Trialist (sub Trialist h/t); Smyth (sub Kashket h/t), Gape, Pattison (sub Freeman h/t), Trialist (sub Trialist h/t); Bloomfield (sub Mackail-Smith 62 mins); Akinfenwa (sub Samuel h/t)

Brentford: Daniels (sub Gunnarsson h/t); Clarke (sub Mogensen 84 mins), Jansson (sub O’Connor 62 mins), Carroll, Field; Oksanen (sub Onen 84 mins); Žambůrek, Jensen (sub Coote h/t), J. Dasilva, Hammar (sub C. Dasilva 84 mins); Marcondes

 

BRENTFORD 0 DYNAMO KYIV 0

Brentford supporter Jim Walsh travelled to Austria to see the newly signed Bees join their team-mates in action in a pre-season friendly against one of Ukraine’s top teams.

Despite the dreadful weather forecasts, Brentford started this pre-season friendly in beautiful sunshine in the wonderful setting of the Tyrollean mountains. The game hosted by SK Jenbach was the culmination of a week long training camp in Austria. 

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AFC WIMBLEDON 0 BRENTFORD 3

Bill Hagerty watches an array of young Bees’ talent defeat the Wombles in an entertaining season curtain-raiser

Not much had happened on the sporting front since last we met to cheer on Brentford, observed my mate Charlie. Apart from the Women’s World Cup, that is. And the ongoing cricket World Cup. Oh, and Wimbledon grand slam tennis, just down the road from this cosy Kingsmeadow ground, where Chelsea’s women’s team also display their skills.

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2019-2020

For Brentford’s last season at Griffin Park Bees United will be covering all home and away games: pre-season, Championship, FA Cup and League Cup. 

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