Revenge is a dish best served cold and yesterday’s three – one victory over Reading provided Brentford with some element of belated payback for the misery Reading inflicted on us back in 2002 when promotion was snatched out of Brentford’s grasp by Jamie Cureton’s heartbreaking late strike.
Closure is certainly cathartic and good for the soul, and there was much rejoicing amongst Brentford fans about the fact that we had finally managed to allay that particular ghost from the past and put a painful memory to bed.
Looking back is all very well but I would prefer to reflect on what yesterday’s terrific victory means for us here and now.
We beat a team that for all their recent financial uncertainty has a budget far in excess of our own.
Their squad was jam packed full of players with vast experience not only at this level but even higher in the food chain.
We also managed to beat the conditions as a morning downpour had saturated the pitch and made us change our normal short passing game from the back.
Most importantly for me, whilst there were times yesterday, particularly in the final quarter, when we demonstrated our by now familiar and customary slick, close passing style of play, we really won the match through the good old-fashioned virtues of guts, passion, organisation and defensive solidity.
Make no mistake, this was a truly excellent team that we were playing, who at one time or the other during the afternoon fielded strikers of the calibre of Glenn Murray, Nick Blackman, Simon Cox, Jamie Mackie and Pavel Pogrebnyak and yet we managed to hold them at bay.
Normally this season we have dominated possession but, again, yesterday was different as we only had the ball for thirty-nine percent of the time.
Mark Warburton mentioned after the match that we had been careless in possession and given the ball away too easily and, whilst he was correct in his assessment, Reading pressed us high up the pitch forcing Button to kick the ball long and given the paucity of targets and his over clubbing the ball on occasions, this meant that possession was ceded far more easily than normal.
This was possibly one of the reasons why Nick Proschwitz replaced a tiring Andre Gray with thirty minutes still to play.
We certainly dominated proceedings far more after his arrival and he provided us with a focal point and some aerial strength up front which enabled us to get a toehold back into a match that at one point in the second half looked as though it might be slowly slipping away from us.
Brentford welcomed back Alex Pritchard, who replaced Toumani Diagouraga despite his excellent performance at Watford, but Alex of the twinkling toes and instant control was to play a massive part in our victory.
Lots of early excitement culminated in Brentford’s quickest goal of the season when Jota slotted home from close range after eleven minutes.
Moses’s magic kept the ball alive wide on the right and McCormack’s incisive cross fell perfectly for Jota after Gray’s challenge for the ball with Hector.
A well worked and well taken goal indeed, and Brentford maintained the initiative before doubling their lead on the half hour.
The Harpo Marx lookalike Aaron Kuhl dwelt on the ball and had his pocket picked by the marauding and relentless Jonathan Douglas.
Reading were caught on the hop and an instant pass set Gray though on goal. He turned his man perfectly and then totally missed his kick but Pritchard was following up and slotted the ball perfectly through Federici’s leg and beyond the two covering defenders.
A bit of additional payback too for those with long memories, as the Reading player whose initial error caused the goal was the son of Martin Kuhl, a rampaging and, frankly terrifying, midfield player who left his calling card on many Brentford players when playing for the likes of Portsmouth and Bristol City a couple of decades ago.
Reading changed their tactics in the second half, reverted to 4-4-2 and went long.
Their efforts were rewarded early on when Cox got in behind the defence and flicked home a harmless looking shot from Mackie.
The next twenty minutes were torture for us as the ball was seemingly never out of our half.
Corner followed corner and the pressure was intense but the Bees never buckled.
We kept our shape and the back four defended like trojans and were all heroes, putting their bodies on the line.
Douglas was everywhere mopping up in front of them and Diagouraga replaced the impressive Jota to add even more cover for the defence.
And yet, for all their possession, Button had surprisingly little to do apart from one excellent plunging save from Mackie and some impressive anticipation and handling.
The Bees it was who came closest when Tarkowski’s header from a corner was hacked clear off the goal line by Mackie.
Then the tide turned as we had weathered the storm.
Holes started to appear in the visitors’ defence as they poured men forward and we had the pace and nous to take full advantage as Judge, Pritchard and Moses drove us forward.
Judge danced around the keeper but took an extra step and failed to finish with a coup de grace.
Pritchard made us all coo with appreciation and amazement when he instantly controlled a high ball coming down with snow on it before twisting away from a challenge and firing just wide.
Moses shot across the face of the goal before forcing a sharp near post save from Federici.
And then, miracle of miracles, came our first set piece goal of the season when Pritchard’s perfectly placed curling left wing corner was met by Douglas rising high to leapfrog on the back of his covering defender to head the ball home powerfully via the crossbar.
As the crowd went into shock, stunned by the sight of Brentford actually scoring from a corner, the referee ignored the vehement protests of the Reading defenders and awarded the goal.
A narrow squeak indeed, and one that might well have gone against us on another day, but now it was game over and time for our party pieces.
The Bees saw out the remaining minutes comfortably enough and could even have extended their lead when the ever-willing Proschwitz hit the post from close range before the game ended with some beautiful possession football which carved Reading open before the ball was hoofed away close to the goal line.
Exhilarating stuff indeed and Brentford had won what I feel was perhaps our best victory to date in a season that promises so much.
After Norwich, and you know how close we came to beating them, Reading were by far the strongest team we have faced at Griffin Park and we beat them fair and square.
It was heartening to see that the team can scrap and battle with the best of them and that, combined with the excellence of our football when we do things right, will be more than enough for us to thrive for the remainder of the season in these exalted circles.
We now go into the International Break bursting with confidence, in a strong and totally merited position in the Championship and with two weeks now to heal and rest some tired bodies and minds.
Happy days indeed!