NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1 BRENTFORD 0

Stewart Purvis sees Brentford fall again to a single goal in an away game.

Three seasons ago Brentford beat Nottingham Forest 3-2 at the City Ground in a wonderfully exciting evening game with Sergi Canos setting up a brilliant breakaway winning goal. 
This weekend Sergi, yellow carded for arguing with an official, limped off with a leg injury leaving Brentford with just ten men to try to grab an equaliser against Forest. You couldn’t blame Sergi who had struggled on maybe longer than he should have.
But the contrast with March 2017 told you everything you needed to know about this game and the thousand Bees fans who made the trip returned home downcast. 
Facing his squad’s third game in seven days Thomas Frank rang the changes with Bryan Mbeumo in for Said Benrahma and Mathias Jensen replacing Kamo Mokotjo.Surprisingly Brentford were the favourites to win with the bookies.
Forest were led by Ben Watson who once scored the winner for Wigan against Man City in a Cup Final. How long ago that feels. And it’s even longer, 2009-10 to be precise, since John Bostock had 9 games for Brentford on loan from Spurs. He’s now on the Forest bench after a global tour in search of a settled home that’s taken him to Canada, Belgium, Turkey and France.
Brentford seemed to have one strategy in the Bees playbook in the first half and they used it to the almost total exclusion of any other. Rico Henry, playing more as a left wing back than a full back in this adaptation of 4-3-4, scampered up to Mbeumo who sometimes passed to Dasilva and occasionally had a shot. There were precious few returns from this policy as half- time approached. Then in the last minute of first half added time Brentford got a free kick 30 yards out. Jensen struck the ball against the wall of defenders and a deflection sent it in the opposite direction to the way Forest keeper Brice Samba expected. With great agility he changed course and managed to beat it away. It had been Brentford’s best chance of the game and it remained that way for the rest of the match.
That’s because in the second half the ‘Run Rico Run’ plan ran out of steam even when Benrahma joined him, subbing for Mbeumo. And again there were too many of the usual characteristics of our away form this and last season-Boro and Barnsley apart- so many mIsplaced passes and too many corners and free kicks that don’t beat the first man.
This time even the much improved defence - Pontus Jansson was again Bees Man of the Match, but in a low poll- lost out to a set piece. A careless back pass led to a Forest corner on the right. It was back headed at the front post then front headed at the back post and fell to Ben Watson in the middle of the box. Two weeks ago he got his first goal for Forest, now he doubled his goal tally by smashing the ball past Raya.
Brentford’s response was, frankly, dull. Yes there were chances of a kind as the Bees attempted to convert their much vaunted ‘expected goals’ rating which has them in fourth place rather than the 19th they now occupy in the real world. Thomas Frank referred rather sarcastically afterwards to ‘this very smart expected goals’.
My own very home made stat of the day was that during the 21 minutes Nikos Karelis spent on the pitch as a sub striker I counted that he only touched the ball twice and one of those was a pass which accidentally hit him on the back. That’s not a criticism of the Greek striker but an indication that the midfield are just not threading enough through balls to the central striker whoever he is.
Forest, who were tidy but never dominant, held out easily to move to second place in the Championship. At the end Thomas Frank was asked if the team had lost some of their vim and vigour’. He said his team ‘maybe lacked that bit of extra freshness and quality of the day’ . Let’s hope they get it back during the international break before Millwall, conquerors of Leeds, come to Griffin Park on the 19th October

Nottingham Forest: Samba; Cash, Worrall, Chema, Ribeiro; Sow (sub Adomah), Watson; Lolley, Silva, Carvalho  Ameobi); Grabban (Mir) 

Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Jeanvier, Henry; Jensen (Karelis ), Nørgaard, Dasilva (Benrahma); Canós, Watkins, Mbeumo ( Mokotjo)

BRENTFORD 1 BRISTOL CITY 1

Stewart Purvis was among the biggest midweek crowd for 14 years who saw the Bees fail to hold on for a win.

What do you do when you arrive at your usual seat in Griffin Park to find Thierry Henry sitting in it. Shout ‘Thierry Henry stole my seat’? Maybe politely ask the people with him if they are in the right row. Fortunately this was enough to move the Arsenal and France legend into the right place in the Braemar Road stand. Suddenly everyone around spotted him and was asking ‘why exactly is Thierry Henry watching Brentford?’.
We then turned to the other  big issue at Brentford : are we better with 3 centre-backs plus 2 wing backs or the traditional four at the back. There was to be a sting in the tail that left us not much wiser about that too.
The Bees started with 4, Jansson and Jeanvier flanked by Dalsgaard and our own Henry, young Rico. Josh Dasilva replaced Mathias Jensen in midfield and Kamo Mokotjo kept the place he’d won at Barnsley. But this was not to be Kamo’s game, he was strangely quiet and was subbed in the second half. 
Most of the opening action was on Brentford’s left flank with Henry making lots of bold runs and Said Benrahma linking well with him without creating many clear cut chances. Sergi Canos ended up on the left too as he chased and retrieved an over hit corner but the Bees attack couldn’t force the ball home. 
For the second home game running David Raya prevented a goal when he faced a one-on-one attacker, this time it was City’s Kasey Palmer who was through after Rico Henry made a big mistake in the centre of midfield.
But in the second half it was the other goalkeeper, Daniel Bentley returning to Griffin Park, who was at the centre of the action. In the 56th minute Bees fans saw the worst then the best of their former goalie. He dropped a deflected cross, the ball fell to Christian Norgaard who struck it well only to see Bentley fly to the right hand corner to push it wide. There was more of Bentley to come later.
Brentford pushed on and Dasilva picked up a pass from Dalsgaard in his favourite spot, just outside the right hand corner of the penalty box. Regulars knew what was coming next, they remembered it from the B team game against Malmo, they’d seen it repeated at Millwall, probably Bentley knew too but could do nothing as the shot curled round him into the corner of the net. Cue wild celebrations. ‘Bentley,Bentley what’s the score’ sang the Ealing Road choir. 
Jensen who’d come on for Mokotjo was moving the ball around better and the Bees were calm as they defended their lead. Which is more than could be said for Bristol’s Jack Hunt as he retaliated against a Canos tackle with a sweep of the arm that sent the Spaniard cascading into the front row of the Paddock. Both were booked which seemed a bit rough on Sergi. Bentley consoled his old team mate.
Two minutes later Canos was subbed and on came Ethan Pinnock to strengthen the defence. It all seemed very sensible at the time but it just may have cost us the full three points. With less than 5 of the 90 minutes left to go, Dasilva did something silly on the right touch line. He tried to make a clever back heel pass when he could have let the ball run out. It gave possession to City who moved forward and struck a cross into the heart of the Bees penalty area. Extraordinarily there were three Bees centre backs on the pitch and none of them was anyway near Andreas Weimann as he headed past Raya. Henry was seen to be having words with Dasilva afterwards.
At the other end Bentley was making lots of good saves to stop Brentford from grabbing a late winner. When the game ended the former Bees keeper exchanged applause with the Ealing Road crowd and hugs with his old teammates.
Thierry Henry had slipped away into the night on the 77th minute, missing the equaliser but revealing that he was looking for a coaching job. Good luck to him.

Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Jeanvier, Henry; Mokotjo (sub Jensen 69) , Nørgaard, Dasilva ( Mbeumo); Canós (Pinnock ) Watkins, Benrahma

Bristol City: Bentley; Hunt, Moore (Eliasson) Williams, Baker, Rowe; Brownhill, Massengo ( O’Dowda) ), Semenyo (sub Diédhiou) ; Weimann, Palmer 

 

 

BARNSLEY 1 BRENTFORD 3

Donald Kerr was one of the 366 Bees fans who survived the wind and the rain and came home from the trip to Oakwell to find, yes it was true they hadn’t gone mad, Brentford had won:

 

It was Albert Einstein that was credited with defining madness as the practice of doing the same thing repeatedly with the expectation of a different result each time. As we approached  Oakwell for our next away gamestill expectantly, despite having witnessed only three wins in over 40 trips  it was tempting to debate whether our determined and indomitable travelling fans, many like your reporter who have been to all of them, were not betraying more than a trace of insanity. Maybe this time it really would be different. 

After no more than one minute, that seemed like a forlorn hope. Like a horrible action-replay of Preston, the opposition started with more energy and seemingly more drive, and we were still finding our feet when Woodrow blazed the ball into the corner of the net. Easier to judge probably if watching on TV with the benefit of replays, but it appeared that we failed to adapt as quickly to the very quick wet surface, failed to close down the opposing midfield and paid the price. 

All the talk when the team had been announced was the replacement by Kamohelo Mokotjo of Bryan Mbueno and the change in formation to a back four with Henrik back to his favoured position with Sergei Canos ahead of him on the right. In truth, the extra man in midfield didn’t make much difference in the first frantic 25 minutes. Both teams were guilty of giving the ball away, Brentford more guilty than Barnsley, and although we grew into the game steadily, the best chance prior to our equaliser fell to the home team, as David Raya rushed out, missed the ball and watched gratefully as Pontus Jansson deflected the resultant shot past the post  

The conditions were atrocious but both teams tried to play the ball on the ground. In the past few weeks, we have seen teams like Charlton and Birmingham sit on a one nil lead and put 10 men behind the ball. Barnsley perhaps without the same experience and quality of those teams, couldn’t frustrate us in the same way, and, from their corner we broke quickly. Said Benrahma holding the ball up, passing to Matthias Jensen, who crossed a delightful ball on to Ollie Watkins’ head and into the net. From that point till the end, Barnsley were never as dangerous as in the first quarter of the match. We should have scored another when Ollie broke through, hit the post, hit the ricochet against the bar and watched as Said failed narrowly to hit the rebound on target. 

The momentum at the end of the first half was picked up immediately at the start of the  second, and, in hindsight, though we weren’t to know it at the time, the early goal effectively ended the game as a contest. Brentford took over completely and their growth in confidence was in sharp contrast to the growing desperation of the opposition. An optimistic claim for a penalty against Henrik was followed within a minute with the third Brentford goal, following a period in which we had spurned one or two golden opportunities to score, most notably when Canos was free on the right and tried to beat the goalkeeper when a simple cross would surely have given Ollie an earlier hat-trick

Let’s hope that Mathias Jensen, replaced instead of Mokotjo, is not too badly injured. And that Nikos Karelis as his fitness improves will prove a worthy challenger to Ollie for the centre forward role. It was heartening to hear the home crowd applaud as Ethan Pinnock’s name was read out at the start and again as he came on late in the day to further frustrate a tiring Barnsley side. 

This game was full of positives. Everyone had a good game but the most encouraging signs were the strong performances of Norgaard and Jensen, the composure and growing familiarity of Watkins in the centre forward position, and the fact that Said had, as one fellow supporter said,”really got his mojo back”. He had a great second half and ran the hat trick hero a very close second for man of the match. We need to weigh the quality of the opposition into any judgement of what this result means for the next few games. We also need to remember that we thought the win at Middlesbrough and the win against Derby were, in turn, indications that our league campaign had started in earnest. But in constant driving rain, on a ground where we had failed to win in the Championship before, this was a welcome away victory. We weren’t so mad after all. 

For supporters of clubs like our own, that are covered less frequently on TV than others, there is often some apprehension of the scrutiny of the cameras. It is almost as if the likelihood of defeat is somehow greater because others are watching beyond those in the ground. After all, it’s impossible to tell your non attending friends that we were unlucky or that the performance was good despite the result, if they’d watched it themselves on the telly. Even when we’ve won when Sky have covered the game, I still find myself asking the armchair viewer ‘how did we look on TV’ as if, having watched it live, I was unable to judge for myself. In this instance, though, I have the feeling that, after a bad start, we weren’t quite as bad as I thought in the first quarter, and that we were very good to watch in the second.

 

Barnsley: Collins; Cavaré (sub Thiam); Halme, Andersen, Williams; Sibbick; Brown, Mowatt, Chaplin (Schmidt), Thomas (Wilks); Woodrow.

 

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

 

 

 

BRENTFORD 0 STOKE CITY 0

Considering he is the goalkeeper in a team down in the bottom third of the Championship David Raya has had a remarkably quiet season so far. Game after game he has had little to do apart from pick the ball out of the net as -no fault of his-Brentford concede a crucial goal.
But this weekend it was Raya who with one brilliant save ensured that Brentford at least picked up a point rather than lose a game they could have won.
The Bees started with an unchanged line-up from the one that beat  Derby but lost at Preston. There was a debut on the bench for Nikos Karelis, the Greek striker signed as a free agent after the transfer window failed to provide a replacement for Neal Maupay. For Stoke’s Brentford alumni Scott Hogan was an unused substitute but Ryan Woods didn’t even make the trip. 
After the first 45 minutes Brentford FC tweeted ‘Not an awful lot to report after the opening 45 minutes’ which was a bit hard on Sergi Canos who, in his now regular berth at right wing back,created a number of chances. One was a classic Canos slalom run which began on the right and ended up on the left wing. He also had a shot blocked.
In midfield Christian Nørgaard, who’d done little of note since the pre-season game against Dynamo Kiev, was also prominent, looking for the out ball from defence, linking the play and even winning possession with rugged tackles. But when a Bryan Mbeumo cross fell to him in prime position in the box he looked rather startled and headed wide.
After half an hour Ollie Watkins was through on goal after turning Stoke’s Liam Lindsay but was called back because it seemed he’d accidentally caught the central defender in the eye. Lindsay, a colleague of Ethan Pinnock at Barnsley last season, had to be subbed as he went off for medical treatment.Watkins had another chance when he nearly beat Stoke keeper Jack Butland to the ball but got clattered in the process.
In the second half it was again Canos on the right making ground and getting in crosses but to no effect, Mbeumo heading wide and Said Benrahma either having his shots blocked or blazing wide.The Algerian would later be booked as his obvious frustration got the better of him.
With half an hour to go Thomas Frank brought on Karelis upfront and Watkins moved alongside him on the right.. When Canos failed to pick out the Greek striker in a good position in the box Sergi ran over and embraced him in apology.  In midfield Kamo Mokotjo replaced Mathias Jensen who’d had a quiet game.
Now Stoke began to get chances, Raya made one good save on the line and then came the crucial moment in the 82nd minute. Pontus Jansson gave the ball away on the edge of the box and Nigerian international Oghenekaro Etebo was through with only the keeper to beat. It looked odds-on for a goal that would win the match for Stoke. But Raya pounced with extraordinary speed at Etebo’s feet and grabbed the ball. The Braemar Road crowd gasped in appreciation. He was voted Man of the Match.
Karelis could have won it for the Bees on his debut from yet another Canos cross but Thomas Frank then banked the point by replacing Canos with defender Josh Clarke, making a rare and welcome appearance.
Brentford had been the more aggressive but had got no reward for that from referee Andy Woolmark. Stoke’s point, only their second of the season, pulled them off the bottom spot  and probably kept manager Nathan Jones in employment for another week. Now Brentford go to Barnsley, just one place above Stoke, still searching for what Thomas Frank calls the ‘momentum to get the engine going’. 
Apart from the defensive clean sheet there were other plus points for the club; this last season at Griffin Park continues to draw good crowds,(the official attendance for this one was 11,870), before the game there was the moving sight of ten year old Munsimar Singh, a victim of racism, leading the teams out in Brentford  kit as a mascot alongside her sister and father and on the 28 minute there was applause in memory of Rob Rowan and in support of fund-raiding for the CRY charity.
 
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Jeanvier; Canós (sub Clarke) Jensen (Mokotjo), Nørgaard, Henry; Mbeumo, Watkins (Karelis), Benrahma

Stoke City: Butland; Edwards, Lindsay ( Batth ), Carter-Vickers, Martins Indi, McClean; Badou; Ince (Campbell), Etebo, Clucas; Gregory ( Vokes 78)

 

PRESTON NORTH END 2 BRENTFORD 0

Stewart Purvis was at Deepdale for another frustrating away trip:

After the high of the home win against Derby it was back to square one with the  Bees struggling again to find the answer to an attack minus Maupay and a midfield without Sawyers. 

Head coach Thomas Frank chose an unchanged team with Sergi Canos staying at right wing back. Noticeably new striker Nicolaos Karelis was judged to be not ready even for a place on the subs bench. His Championship debut may be a few weeks away yet.

For Preston Sean Maguire and Thomas Barkhuizen, who PNE fans feared might not be fit to play, started up front and within minutes had an impact. From the kick-off Brentford barely got out of their own half let alone into Preston’s box as wave after wave of attacks rained down on the Bees. The almost inevitable chance came in the fourth minute when the third corner in as many minutes wasn’t cleared properly and an unmarked Maguire turned it past David Raya. 

Somewhat surprisingly Brentford had the better of the rest of the first half. On the left, Said Benrahma, in his 50th game for the Bees, linked up well with Ollie Watkins but the chance came to nothing. Then two clear chances fell to Bryan Mbeumo on the right. Canos was creating a supply line of through balls to Mbeumo but twice the French forward, returning from scoring in an under-21 international, lost control. However these chances masked the problems in midfield where Frank was persevering with the Danish duo of Christian Norgaard and Mathias Jensen but to no great effect against the pony-tailed Daniel Johnson. But overall at halftime the stats reflected a balanced game which many fans felt the Bees could go on to win.

As it turned out the Bees didn’t get better. Benrahma got himself in regular rows with Preston defenders, Mbeumo was tiring and Watkins just wasn’t getting the service he needed to keep up his goal tally. Half-way through the 45 minutes Frank switched formation going to four at the back with Mokotjo reinforcing the midfield and Canos moving forward to replace Mbeumo. It didn’t work. Five minutes later Pontius Jansson tried one of his characteristic back headers to his goalie. It went awry and Raya and Dalsgaard challenged each other in the air to clear it. The ball eventually fell to Darnell Fisher who was unmarked on the right and he crossed for a simple tap-in by Barkhuizen.

Another reinforcement of midfield muscle came with Josh Dasilva replacing Jensen but there was no way back into the game for the Bees. Canos was less effective upfront than he had been at wing back and when Benrahma did break through once he was brought down by a stiff right arm across the throat. Preston defensive sub Brad Potts, with the physique of a rugby forward, got into regular tangles with Rico Henry and the game fizzled out with barely a Brentford chance. 

The 579 Bees fans were left wondering whether Derby had been even worse than we thought, creating a flattering and false impression about Brentford’s chances of moving up the table. The Bees are 18th while Preston moved up to 5th. Next up for Brentford a home game against Stoke who after seven matches have only one point. 

 

Preston North End: Rudd; Fisher, Bauer, Davies, Rafferty; Browne, Ledson (sub Gallagher ); Bodin (Harrop), Johnson, Maguire; Barkhuizen (Potts)

Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Jeanvier; Canós, Nørgaard, Jensen (Dasilva ), Henry; Mbeumo (Mokotjo 65), Watkins, Benrahma

 

BRENTFORD 3 DERBY COUNTY 0

Bill Hagerty sees the Bees click into top gear to register their first home win of the season

 

Having peppered Charlton with 21 unconverted shots at what became an unhappy Valley last Saturday, Brentford must have been determined to go one better. Here they did exactly that, amassing a count of 22 shots and going three better when it came to scoring. 

It was the first time in this League term that Thomas Frank fielded a side that from the off looked a cohesive unit brimming with ideas and vitality. Derby, disappointing and resembling little lambs lost in the wood rather than bighorn Rams on the rampage, seemed hardly to know what hit them.

 

Said Benhrama, making his first start and tormenting the visiting defence at every turn – there were plenty of those to flummox the back four – was only partly responsible for lifting Brentford’s spirits and performance level. 

 

Ollie Watkins was a commanding presence whenever charging through the middle, while Bryan Mbeumo, unable properly to find his feet in earlier games, suddenly realised they were on the end of his legs and had a game that promised much for the future. One goal and an assist to his name comprehensivelyif belatedly, announced his arrival and by combining menacingly with Watkins evoked memories of a similar partnership Ollie enjoyed with Neal Maupay. 

 

Good news indeed, as was the return of Benrahma. Despite running low on energy and being replaced towards the end, he showed signs of regaining the form that made him a target for some Premier League clubs during the transfer window. Let’s hope they haven’t noticed.

 

Sergi Canos, the busiest of Bees, went close soon after the off, drawing a splendid save from Kelle Roos, but it was the new Watkins-Mbeumo team that delivered after 17 minutes, Ollie’s shot being only parried by the keeper for Maupay’s replacement to pounce. A minute later the roles were reversed, a flowing move ending with Mbeumo providing a square pass for an unmarked Watkins to score easily.

 

The confidence positively oozed from Brentford and Derby’s defending became increasingly frantic. Benrahma unleashed a shot that made Roos’ fingertips tingle, Rico Henry ballooned a shot over the bar and then, just before the break and to nobody’s surprise, Brentford increased their lead, Watkins firing his second shot home after the first had rebounded from a defender in a packed Derby box. 

 

A much tamer second period saw chances missed – Watkins very nearly completed a hat-trick when his neat lob was not quite neat enough to avoid the onrushing Roos – and Canos and the inspiring Dalsgaard tormenting the visitors from the flanks. Only in midfield was there a deficiency, which Thomas Frank attempted to address with substitutions. He has yet to find an ideal pairing there.

 

With an international break next weekend, nine of the first team squad will be engaged on behalf of a handful of different countries. Of the victors over Derby only David Raya and Ollie Watkins have not been selected to represent their countries at some level of football during their careers but if Watkins continues to bustle and bruise defences and can snap up more chances – four goals this season so far – he could soon be joining the international brigade.  

 

After the match Dutch Derby coach Phillip Cocu described his team as ‘arrogant’, but their lack-lustre showing indicated more problems than unwarranted hubris. Last April a feisty Rams required Brentford to come from behind three times in order to gain a point at Griffin Park. The departure of Frank Lampard, rewarded for his inability to get promotion via the play-offs by being appointed head coach at Chelsea, seems to have left a side riddled with insecurity.

With not one shot on target throughout the ninety minutes and a defence that opened up like a can of sardines, one can’t see why Cocu picked only on a conceit unnoticed by anyone else, I said to my mate-of-few-words in the next seat.

‘Double Dutch?’ ventured Charlie.

Brentford: Raya, Dalsgaard, Janssen, Jeanvier, Canos, Jensen (sub Mokotjo, NorgaardHenry, Mbeumo (Zamburek), Watkins, Benrahma(Valencia). 

 

Derby CountyRoos, Lowe, Keogh, Bielick, Buchanan (Holmes) Knight, Huddlestone, Dowell (Bennett), Marriott (Patterson), Waghorn, Lawrence.

 

 

CHARLTON ATHLETIC 1 BRENTFORD 0

Stewart Purvis reports on how Brentford's first London derby of the season was another away disappointment.

Presumably one day there will come a game, maybe one which Said Benrahma and Kamo Mokotjo are fit enough to start and a 'recognised' striker is up front, when Brentford not only have more posession and shots but also score and win.Thomas Frank says 'everybody knows it will turn around'. It won't come soon enough, especially for loyal supporters like the 2,250 Bees fans at the Valley. 

Read more...

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.

Read more...