Formidable! – 27/7/14

nice 3It really doesn’t seem so long since we were cheering ourselves hoarse after celebrating promotion and here we were back at Griffin Park less than three months later for the first home friendly match of the new Championship season.

The message seemed to have got out about the new ticketing system and several friends reported no more than a few minutes’ wait before they were able to purchase a ticket at the Sales Booth.

You can install all the technology and new fangled systems that you like, but they are only as good as the human beings that operate them and my turnstile operator was banana fingered and totally flummoxed and needed five tortuous goes before my ticket was duly swiped and entrance allowed.

I hurried inside impatiently but I needn’t have worried.

Griffin Park was resplendent, glistening and glinting in the baking July sunshine and you could see that massive and painstaking efforts had been made on a makeover to upgrade the facilities for the larger crowds ahead.

The Matchbook logo now adorned the New Road roof, the TV Gantry also boasted a “Welcome to Griffin Park” sign and there was spanking new directional signage everywhere.

Griffin Park really looked at its best and the pitch, freshly tended and reseeded, was a sea of verdant green.

What about the football you might well ask?

Well that was pretty good too and the Bees saw off their toughest challenge yet by defeating OGC Nice of Ligue 1 in France by three goals to two.

The new boys all impressed.

Marcos Tebar dovetailed perfectly with Jonathan Douglas with one sitting and the other marauding forward and he was strong and relentless in his tackling and pressing as well as confident on the ball with an excellent range of passing.

He looks like he could be the fulcrum for the entire team and he really excited me.

Moses Odubajo was a ball of fire and human dynamo on the right, terrifying his wingback with his sheer pace and persistence.

He made clever runs, darting inside and out and he got behind the defence several times and his final delivery was quick and incisive.

No “parting like the Red Sea” jokes here but he will shine in the Championship and mesmerise defenders. I would also put him down for ten goals too.

I never really thought I would ever see the day when my Brentford, once the pauper of London football, surviving on begging bowls and handouts, were going to be in the position to spend one million pounds on a player but Moses is the real deal and deserves all the accolades he will receive.

We played a 4-2-3-1 formation with Judge and Pritchard rotating in the middle and down the left like effervescent balls of fire.nice2

Pritchard is a game changer with the ability to open up a defence at will and he scored with a perfect Saundersesque 25 yard free kick dinked over the wall as well as a close range finish when the Nice defence, not for the first time, evaporated and self destructed.

Andre Gray looked like a welterweight, all honed muscle allied to real pace and ability on the ball.

He sprinted into the gap between two immobile central defenders to score coolly and immaculately in the first minute and he looked a real prospect, revelling in his lone striker role.

Scott Hogan also showed that he was no slouch before limping off after a worrying blow to his ankle.

It has to be said that at times Nice defended naively and their gross overplaying at the back cost them the crucial third goal but coming forward they attacked with vim and gusto and provided our defence with a gruelling challenge which they met with flying colours.

So overall a good day all round with optimism unbounded.

The Bees won, played well and with a confident swagger with nary a long ball in sight.

They certainly lack height in key areas and it remains to be seen whether the intricate ball skills of Judge and Pritchard prove effective against some of the Neanderthals we will come up against over the coming nine months.

In Odebajo and Gray we certainly possess two match winners and it looks like we have bought wisely and well.

Yet today was about far more than the actual football.

It was the renewal of a right of passage.

Football is back at Griffin Park and everything is right with the world.

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