Last night was a case in point when the Brentford manager was left incandescent with rage over referee Tim Robinson’s bemusing refusal to award Brentford what appeared to everybody in the stadium, bar one, to be a stonewall penalty when Alex Pritchard was pulled down in the area.
The video evidence is even more damning and the body language of the Norwich defenders makes it clear that they expected the worst.
Mark Warburton’s words speak for themselves:
Pritch gets into the penalty area and if I’m the only one who thinks that’s a penalty then maybe I need to go to Specsavers.
Games at this level are decided by fine margins, and none finer than last night, when having gifted Norwich the lead through overplaying, then giving the ball away at the back, at a time when Brentford were well ahead on points, the Bees were denied the chance of an instant reply by the referee’s non-decision.
Robinson has previous with us, as ironically enough, on the two occasions when Robinson refereed Brentford games last season, against Crewe and MK Dons respectively, he awarded soft penalties against the Bees in both games.
It must have been twenty minutes at least before Brentford were even awarded a free kick last night and his performance clearly reminded me of that of Neil Swarbrick who gave us less than nothing (excuse my understandable exaggeration) when he totally favoured Chelsea in the FA Cup replay a couple of years ago.
Another referee suffering from Big Club Syndrome!
Looking objectively at the season to date, it can certainly be said that referees have not done Brentford any favours – very much the opposite, in fact, after Tony Craig’s red card and penalty concession against Birmingham, the Bidwell penalty appeal in the same game, and the totally baffling decision not to dismiss Brighton defender Lewis Dunk after his blatant last man foul on Saturday.
Tonight though, was the worst and most costly of the lot as, had we equalised, the impetus and force would have been with us and one point would almost certainly have been our minimum reward.
As it was, Brentford were punished with two late breakaway goals that gave the final scoreline a totally unrealistic and misleading appearance.
After their customary slow start, Brentford grew into the game and totally dominated the final thirty minutes of the first half.
Their high tempo approach and stiletto sharp passing carved open the highly rated visitors’ defence on several occasions and Brentford really should have gone into the break at least one, if not, two, goals to the good.
Ruddy saved miraculously from McCormack’s long ranger and more fortuitously from Pritchard’s close range poke, after wonderfully persistent play from the industrious Alan Judge, who refused to concede that a long ball was running out of play.
Grey also had two close range efforts deflected just wide then over the bar.
Yet you somehow thought that these misses might well come back to haunt Brentford as they have already leaned to their cost how imperative it is to score when you’re on top, as chances are hard to come by at this level, and must be capitalised upon particularly against teams of Norwich’s calibre,
The second half was closer, although after a nervy start when the ball was several times given away cheaply in dangerous areas, the Bees came again and Ruddy saved well from Gray and Judge whose deliberately placed low twenty-yarder was somehow pushed past the post by Ruddy, who was at full stretch.
The first goal came well against the run of play.
Tarkowski took possession after a quick throw out by Button but gave the ball away dangerously in midfield.
Norwich had men over, took full advantage, and Tettey slotted the ball beneath the keeper.
A harsh and totally undeserved blow, and one that Brentford seemed to have recovered from when Pritchard went down in the area straight after the goal – but that is where we came in!
Their tails up, Norwich then finished us off with two clinical finishes by Cameron Jerome, the second a long range beauty.
Three-nil looks conclusive but it was never that.
John Ruddy was the difference between the two teams for much of the game and saved Norwich on at least four occasions.
Highly ironic as I am led to believe that Ruddy was, at one point, on the verge of joining the Bees on a season’s loan, when Andy Scott changed his mind and signed Lewis Price instead!
However there are several hard lessons that must be learned by Brentford as quickly as possible, and they are the same ones that have become evident in so many of our previous matches.
1. You have to score when you are on top
2. You cannot afford to waste your chances as they will be at a premium
3. Don’t give a sucker an even break
4. You mustn’t give the ball away cheaply in dangerous areas
5. It is potential suicide to overplay at the back. Keep playing it short when it is safe to do so, but there is also a time and place to mix it up and go longer
6. Recognise that we are just as good as the opposition and fully deserve to be on the same pitch as them
7. Play the eleven facing you on the pitch and not their name, history, or tradition – they aren’t supermen, and can be beaten
8. Moses Odubajo is a match winner and is far too valuable in a more advanced position to play at right back
9. Play some of your Spaniards in every match as they have the ability to turn games in our favour
10. We need a left footed defender to play left-sided centre back
11. Play to the whistle and keep your head up when things go against you
And here is a new one for Mark Warburton and David Weir:
12. Stop being so polite and reticent on the bench. Get in the Fourth Official’s face and fight your corner – everyone else does.
I am not suggesting for one moment that they become as obnoxious and irritating as Steve Evans and Paul Raynor of Rotherham, but simply that they try and ensure that we get a fair crack of the whip from officials, something that we are patently not receiving at present.
It is so disappointing to lose a match that was balanced on a knife’s edge, but there was so much good to take out of last night’s performance.
We played much better football than our illustrious visitors but we could not match them for size and strength, but nor would we want to do so, as that is not the way we play the game.
Their finishing was also more clinical than ours and they took full advantage of what little they created late on in the game.
We have to recognise that there will be other such games as this when we get far less than we deserve but last night also demonstrated that we have the ability to match everybody in this league, and also come out on top more often than not.