Few coming away from Deepdale could claim we deserved much more than we got, indeed, after 30 minutes, three Brentford goals and a narrow final margin seemed highly unlikely as we squandered possession and looked out of sorts across the park. At Norwich, by comparison, we started well, grew into the game and, while not looking dangerous in and around the opposition box, looked more composed on the ball and much more difficult to break down. The return of Mepham, his replacement of Odubajo the only change from Preston, was the key factor in this, with Konsa seemingly much more comfortable alongside him, and the whole back line more organised. How ironic then that a long ball from Klose over Mepham and into the path of Buendia should produce the only goal of the game. There had been nothing between the teams to this point, although both managers might claim otherwise, but, unlike Preston, it was an error really uncharacteristic of the overall Brentford display.
The forced change of McEachran replacing Mokotjo after 30 minutes didn’t seem to upset the midfield, and Josh was both combative and creative on his return. You might expect a dip in confidence in a young team but, with the possible exception of Watkins, who seems to be struggling to match his performances of last season, there was little evidence of anything other than a group of players striving hard to make it work. It is only four games ago that Brentford all but got the three points at the then table topping Leeds and it is difficult to pinpoint why we haven’t reproduced that result. The main frustration among those of us watching today was a slowing down of our play as we approached the opposition box, and an apparent reluctance to shoot on goal more often. Krul didn’t look all that comfortable when saving from Canos’ efforts in the first half hour, and it was his inability to deal with MacLeod’s shot that led to the opportunity for Maupay, our best of the afternoon.
Bentley had a much better game today, not just saving the penalty, but taking fewer unnecessary risks when clearing back passes and generally looking calmer. In truth, apart from the penalty, he wasn’t tested much, with Rhodes stepping in to block a shot from a team mate that might have caused us problems, and the defence seeing off most of the Norwich threat. Canos continues to show signs of returning to top form, and Mokotjo looked lively until injury forced him off.
Overall, another disappointing afternoon, but one in which we could claim we deserved more with greater justification than in midweek. There has been criticism of the refereeing of a few of our recent games, and, on at least one occasion, the man in the middle has affected the final result. There could be little such criticism today, although it was a much easier game to deal with, as both teams were keen to get the ball down and move it forward with skill rather than brute force.
This has been a difficult start for Thomas Frank, but we were thwarted by both Reading and Birmingham before he took over, and our fragility is longer term than just the most recent three games. Brian Riemer was in the dugout today, and with the recruitment of a second assistant underway, we should be confident that the group of players who started the season so strongly will be helped to turn this round. Let’s not start talking of must win games this early.
Norwich City:Krul, Aarons, Klose, Zimmerman, Lewis; Tettey, Buendia (sub Hernandez), Stiepermann, Leitner (Trybull), Cantwell; Rhodes (Srbeny)
Brentford:Bentley; Dalsgaard,Konsa, Mepham, Barbet; Mokotjo (McEachran), Canos (Benrahma), Yennaris (Macleod), Sawyers, Watkins; Maupay