Mad Madley! – 24/8/14

madleySometimes it is better to wait a little while before putting your thoughts down on paper.

Time can indeed provide some perspective and also have a calming influence, so I have therefore waited the requisite cooling off period before providing my more measured thoughts on yesterday’s strange happenings at Griffin Park, and you know what – I am even angrier now than I was at the time.

We first came across Robert Madley in the crucial promotion clash at Leyton Orient late last season when his eccentric and one-eyed refereeing display bemused and angered every Brentford fan, rabid and fair minded alike.

It was generally accepted that he only got one thing right that day, the decision to send off James Tarkowski for two silly and obvious yellow card offences.

Leyton Orient were allowed to steal yards with impunity at every throw and seemed to have been granted immunity from being penalised for any offence committed that day, however cynical or serious, whilst Mr Madley stamped down ruthlessly on any Brentford infraction.

Well the one thing you can say about Mr Madley is that he is totally consistent given yesterday’s mirror image and reprise of the Leyton Orient horror show.

This time it was Birmingham City who were the grateful recipients of his largesse.

Another Bees player saw red early on yesterday and you have to say that the referee got it right.

claytonAgain though, in the eyes of the Brentford fans it was pretty much his only correct decision as we will discuss later on in this report.

Tony Craig committed hari-kari with the perfect Triple Salchow combination of appalling defending – let the ball bounce, head it weakly back towards your own goal, and then compound your felony by putting your hands all over the striker streaking in to take advantage of the gift.

In this case Clayton Donaldson, returning to his old stamping ground, went down like the proverbial sack of spuds and Craig and Brentford suffered the ultimate penalty.

Jonathan Douglas had enveloped Clayton in a playful bear hug during the pre-match ceremonial handshakes and it appeared that Tony Craig was merely following his example, but unfortunately fifteen minutes too late.

Brentford were down to ten men and once Caddis put away the spot kick, they were trailing a tough, large, unsophisticated and direct Birmingham team by a goal and facing an uphill task to get anything out of the match.

Even before the goal the referee ignored a strong penalty appeal when Gray was manhandled off the ball as a cross came into the area – “see no evil, hear no evil” appeared to be Mr Madley’s mantra – at least as far as Brentford were concerned.

Brentford were poor in the latter stages of the first half, overhitting passes, going too long and generally feeling sorry for themselves.

Smith was clipped in the area but retained his balance when he could have given Mr Madley another decision to make – on second thoughts, he probably knew what the outcome would have been, so he didn’t bother to fall over!

Birmingham took control and pinged a series of dangerous crosses into the box.

Harlee Dean seized his opportunity (as indeed he had at Orient when he replaced another Brentford red card victim) and he and Tarkowski defended heroically aided as they were by Birmingham’s relentless long ball barrage .

The game should have been over by the interval but Thomas headed a gift chance over the bar and Button saved well from Cotterill’s curler and incredibly from a point blank header from Novak – a save that defied gravity and belief.

Birmingham started the second half in the same vein but after their early efforts came to nothing, they retreated into their shell and attempted to hold onto what they had.

Manager Lee Clark also went totally Rosler-esque with his tactics, withdrawing both of his central strikers and therefore handing the initiative on a plate to Brentford.

The Bees took total control for the last twenty minutes and began to threaten the Birmingham goal.

Pritchard and Judge interchanged with balletic grace, half time substitute Dallas threatened with his pace and power and Douglas marauded forward like a man inspired.

Gray was tireless with his clever running and forced an excellent smothering save from Randolph.

The referee then returned to the spotlight when Bidwell turned in the box and his progress was halted by an outrageous chest high tackle from Spector.

Mr Madley pointed dramatically – for a goal kick.

mosesThen came another turning point and a managerial masterstroke by Mark Warburton, who, unsurprisingly given the referee’s performance, had been unusually animated on the bench, regularly getting into the ear of the Fourth Official.

Alan McCormack had been his normal combative self, but he was replaced by Moses Odubajo who immediately stormed forward to heap more pressure on the suddenly stretched Birmingham defence which began to creak ominously.

The pressure eventually told when Grounds miscontrolled badly on the halfway line and Odubajo streaked away and couldn’t be caught.

Time seemed to stand still as he bore down on the Birmingham goal but he had the composure to dink the ball over the keeper, and the ground erupted.

Birmingham heads went down, their manager paced impotently on the touchline, aware that his own tactical shortcomings had hamstrung his team’s chances of success.

There was now going to be only one winner and the Bees went close when Dallas unleashed a swerving long range effort that almost deceived Randolph.

You could say that Brentford had got out of jail but Birmingham had missed their chances and let the Bees off the hook – and how well they took their opportunity.

It was impossible at times to tell who had the extra man as Brentford’s beautiful short passing game came into its element in the second half and enabled them to keep possession, cut through the impotent Birmingham defence and turn the game on its head.

This was a topsy-turvy game but the point gained was a golden one and will boost confidence to even higher levels.

The past seven days have provided a tough learning curve but Brentford have come through with flying colours and fans, management and players now know that they truly belong in the Championship.

Now Fulham await, and what an enticing prospect that is!

As for Mr Madley, he has justifiably joined the pantheon of iconic horrors and pantomime villains like Norman Burtenshaw, Kevin Lynch, Keith Stroud, Andy D’Urso, Stuart Attwell and Ray Bigger in Brentford’s refereeing Hall of Shame.

Surely we can’t have him inflicted upon us again – once a season is more than enough!

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2 thoughts on “Mad Madley! – 24/8/14

  1. I wonder if a game with a sending off will come to encapsulate our season in the way it did last time we were at this level. I vividly remember the game against Swindon towards the end of that season when they went down to nine men before half time. Our total ineptitude in then breaking them down summed up how poor we had become. It finished 0-0 and they went closer to winning it than we did. Fast forward to now and we acquitted ourselves so well with 10 men that it really showed for me the difference between that campaign and the way this one will hopefully unfold.

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