I mentioned yesterday my proposed detour at the National Football Museum in Manchester, which was frankly a bit of a damp squib.
The highlight of the afternoon was finding a parking space less than fifty yards away from the front door of the museum, which was worth a quick visit but was an ultimate disappointment, filled as it was with far too much Manchester United and City related ephemera, lots of signed shirts and interactive games and far too few exhibits of real and lasting historical value and interest.
Nothing much there to excite Brentford fans either, apart from a Sikh sword awarded to the club by the local community – I wonder if the donors know where their prized gift is now located!
That being said it was full of families and the kids (of all ages) seemed to love it – so what do I know?
The evening’s entertainment at Bloomfield Road was far more exciting as Brentford broke their duck by winning their first Championship game of the season and, indeed, their first victory at this level of the game since defeating Barnsley at Griffin Park on May 1st 1993.
An auspicious night and result which has raised the Bees to the giddy heights of twelfth in the embryonic league table, three points ahead of Uwe Rosler’s stuttering Wigan team and a massive four – yes, four points ahead of Fulham, ignoring, of course that they do have a game in hand.
Back to the action:
Andre Gray was injured – nothing serious apparently, so Nick Proschwitz started as the sole striker and Stuart Dallas replaced Marcos Tebar in a team that was otherwise unchanged from the one that started the match at AFC Bournemouth on Saturday.
Jack Bonham was on the bench instead of the injured Richard Lee and was joined by our two new Spanish signings in Jota and Toral.
Blackpool fielded their usual Rag, Tag and Bobtail assortment of unknown foreigners and slightly tarnished or over the hill journeymen players like Ishmael Miller, Francois Zoko and Peter Clarke with yet another new signing, Nile Ranger – looking like he had enjoyed a Summer without too much hard training, starting on the bench.
I felt sorry for their manager, Jose Riga, for having to work under such constraints, and trying to make bricks without straw, but his team did him proud tonight, keeping possession well and probing at the Brentford defence without really threatening until Zoko found space on the left side of the area and his curling cross was easily headed home by Nathan Delfouneso, who was in splendid isolation.
The header was well placed just inside the post and bounced over the diving Button’s arms as he attempted to react to the effort but it looked to me like he had started with his weight on his wrong foot.
The goal came at a time when Brentford were beginning to impose themselves on the game and they started to dominate proceedings once they managed to keep tighter watch on the two overlapping full backs who had both caused problems, and with their out balls stifled, Brentford took control.
Lots of intricate football, pass and move with Moses Odubajo terrifying the home defence with his pace and directness.
As has been the case though, our moves seemed to fizzle out on the edge of their box with few actual shooting chances created – but that will come as confidence grows and the players get more used to each other and the system being employed.
You have to score when you are on top and thankfully the goal came with Judge and Moses combining well and Pritchard took a touch and arrowed a low right footed drive into the far corner beyond the unsighted keeper.
There was nearly another just before half time when Pritchard cut inside but fired straight at Lewis.
Despite their dominance the Bees were indebted to a wonderful block by Craig to foil Miller right on the halftime whistle.
The force was now with the Bees who took total control and were rewarded when the ever-willing Dallas chased a forlorn hope, dispossessed the dallying defender who was trying to usher the ball out for a goal kick, turned inside and walloped it into the top corner.
Dallas has been a revelation this season with his directness, pace, strength and potency in front of goal. There is now huge competition for places and Stuart has reacted well to the challenge
Proschwitz had run himself out as he and Moses were replaced by Smith and Jota.
The Spaniard impressed in his cameo, looking positive and assured in possession and quick on the ball, his pace and dancing feet almost gave Pritchard a tap in, and he will be a massive influence once he settles into the English game.
Lesson number one for him, though, is not to dally on the ball and take an extra touch when under pressure forty yards from your own goal.
You will lose possession and put your defence under threat, as was the case last night.
He will learn very quickly and he will excite every Brentford supporter as the season progresses.
Tommy Smith was, well, Tommy Smith, cool, calm and composed, settling us down as we attempted to run down the clock.
We dropped deeper as the prospect of that elusive first win affected tired minds and limbs and we gave the initiative back to Blackpool, almost literally at times as we became our own worst enemy, gifting them the ball in dangerous positions through over playing and casualness.
Another crucial lesson that has to be learned quickly if we are not to suffer the inevitable consequences.
Our formation veered from 4-1-4-1 to an interesting and probably unique 4-6-0, but thanks to the home team’s failings in front of goal, an excellent smothering save from Button and heroics from Douglas and the entire back four, we held on and there was much joy and celebration at the final whistle.
Players, staff and fans alike knew the importance of this victory and how it can provide a platform and springboard towards a successful season.
We needed that first win, we fully deserved it, we got it, and the Bees are on the march.