Ram Bam! – 2/11/14

derby1I have been wracking my brains over the past twelve hours or so but I have yet to recall a better and more important overall performance than the one the Bees put on yesterday against league leaders Derby County.

Yes, in recent years in one-off cup matches we have beaten Premier league opposition in Sunderland and Everton, and also given Chelsea a bloody nose, but yesterday we took on a team that is regarded as odds on for promotion and has one of the deepest and most talented squads in our division.

And we beat them – fair and square!

We went head-to-head with Derby County, took everything they could throw at us, which was quite a lot in the first half, stayed in the game through our grit, determination and organisation and, then, when we finally clicked into gear, our footballing ability took over and they could not live with us.

There is now a marked and significant difference between past Brentford teams and the current squad.

Previously if we beat, or even put on a good show against a better and more expensive team it would be seen as a giant killing as little Brentford over-performed and strained all their sinews to bring off the unexpected.

The current squad has pace and pure quality in abundance, and when you add that to our organisation, fitness and team spirit and also stir in a a portion of self-belief, the ingredients all combine to form a heady and intoxicating brew which is fully capable of beating any team in the Championship.

What is more they are finally beginning to realise just how good they are.

Mark Warburton made two changes from the team that lost at Bolton last weekend.

Alan McCormack missed out through his ankle injury and Alex Pritchard, weakened by the after effects of flu, reverted to the bench.

As expected, Moses Odubajo moved to right back, Jon Toral made his full debut and, to general surprise, Toumani Diagouraga was also named in the starting line-up.

This was to turn out a masterstroke as he was easily the best player on the field, giving his finest ever performance for the club.

He acted as a shield and support to the ever willing Jonathan Douglas, harried, tackled and won the ball back tenaciously and effectively and, most crucially, he never gave the ball away and ensured that we maintained possession.

In fact we ended up with more possession overall than our visitors, which was an astonishing achievement.

The first half was dominated by Derby, whose machine clicked effortlessly into gear, and they played slick, confident and effective football with Chris Martin acting as their fulcrum, holding the ball up beautifully and bringing his colleagues into the game.

Brentford pressed and harried but were hurried and careless with the ball and created little.

Gray was isolated up front and the ball rarely stuck.

Our best moves came when Toral and Jota broke forward menacingly but the final ball was never on the money and Jack Butland was totally untroubled in the Derby goal.

The key was to stay in the game, and that we succeeded in doing, given the herculean efforts of the whole team, defending from the front, denying space and putting their bodies on the line.

For all their first half possession, Derby created very little.

Dawkins shot into the side netting and Button saved from Forsyth before, on twenty-seven minutes, Brentford attempted a quick break, Judge was dispossessed in a dangerous position, and with the overlapping Moses Odubajo caught upfield in support of the anticipated attack, Derby took full advantage of the space on their left flank and Forsyth’s low cross was expertly turned in at the near post by Martin.

A goal that they fully deserved at the time.

Brentford kept fighting and trying to play their football and managed to get to halftime without further punishment.

The general mood at the interval was one of resigned acceptance. We were doing our best but were simply being outplayed by a better team.

Somebody obviously refused to tell the Bees, as after the break they came out a totally different team.

Immediately the fans could sense that the momentum was shifting as Brentford gave it a real go and finally realised that they had to impose themselves on the game rather than show too much respect to their illustrious visitors.

Moses Odubajo took the handbrake off and started to maraud forward with immediate and devastating effect.

Forsyth could not live with him and another quick break ended with a clever pass from Moses into the feet of Andre Gray who had found a yard of space inside the Derby penalty area.

His response was instantaneous and devastating as his first time shot raged into the corner of the net.

George Francis, watching from above would surely have approved!

Confidence and self-belief now coursed through the veins of the entire team and Derby were on the rack.

Slick incisive football was met with a barrage of fouls and body checks in an effort to halt our progress.

David Button then hit a perfect eighty yard pass to Alan Judge who turned outside his defender and put in a perfect chip that the straining Gray headed onto the post.

So close to a goal.

der2Derby tried to slow the game down and the introduction of the gifted Will Hughes helped them regain some semblance of control, but Mark Warburton also made two exceptional substitutions.

Jon Toral had run himself out but made a real mark with one double shimmy in the area almost opening up the Derby defence.

He and Jota were replaced by Alex Pritchard and Stuart Dallas, returning unexpectedly from his thigh injury.

They both impressed from the start, Pritchard’s dribbling and passing ability giving Brentford time and space and Dallas showed his power and running ability and gave excellent support to the tiring Gray.

Another Derby substitute, Jordon Ibe, also caught the eye and his tussle with the equally speedy Odubajo was one of the highlights of the last quarter of the game.

The game ebbed and flowed with Button saving well with his legs from Ibe who had slalomed through the home defence.

The pantomime villain was Chris Martin who moaned and dived his way throughout the match without any response from the referee before assaulting Tony Craig off the ball and he amazingly escaped with only a yellow card when red was surely called for.

A point for each team seemed the likely outcome but Brentford maintained their pressure and finally their reward came well into the four minutes of allocated injury time.

Moses made yet another forward run and passed square to Alan Judge. He centered hard and low and Stuart Dallas from the far left of the area, sent an awesome and unstoppable right footed volley into the roof of the net.

The roof came off Griffin Park as the ground erupted and a famous and, in the end, totally deserved victory had been won.

Every home player was a hero.

Button did what little he had to do exceptionally well. Some of his clearances were right on the money, others less so but that is the way we are going to continue to play and the sooner some isolated elements of the crowd accept and support it the better.

The back four were brilliant. Moses won his personal battles and also was our most potent attacking force and I just hope that he is put in cotton wool until Wednesday when he will face another speedster in Michail Antonio of Nottingham Forest.

Jake Bidwell was his normal unflustered self, never hurried on the ball, always there in both defence and attack and the two centre halves won everything.

James Tarkowski is perhaps the most promising player in the squad, but he will have to wait his turn as Harlee Dean was a commanding figure and also used the ball well.

Douglas and Toumani played a major role in keeping us steady when we were on the rack but the entire midfield worked hard and kept passing the ball.

That is our mantra, pass, pass, pass and keep moving into space, and in the second half we did this to perfection and Derby could not cope with us.

This win was no fluke, as the Derby management acknowledged after the game, and it simply proves that we really belong in this league and we are also beginning to make people stand up and take notice at the way we do things both on and off the field.

We are becoming recognised for our vibrant, attacking and positive football and for having a squad of gifted, grounded, intelligent and hardworking players brilliantly supported by a visionary management and support team.

Oh, and one further piece of great news – Sam Saunders was back on the bench yesterday after his near ten month injury layoff.

God, how I love this club!

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8 thoughts on “Ram Bam! – 2/11/14

  1. When we press teams and play at high intensity like we did second half yesterday we are a match for anyone indeed. With Dallas and Saunders back in the frame too these really are fantastic times to be a Bees fan.

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  2. What a brilliant, brilliant day. You sum it up perfectly Grev.

    Real game of two halves and we were gratefully accepting a deserved draw where I sit, so to win was a huge bonus and moment of huge joy when Dallas’s shot hit the net.

    Travelled to and from the game with Derby friends who admitted how well we played.

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    • well i saw the goals on sky here in france seemed a great win but looking deeper and the diffrent comments and from some people i still know in the game i do not know what players will come and go but i think what the bees have got to worry the most about is trying to keep hold of a very good manger that might be the real key to stay in the championship and then push on

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      • I have been thinking the same Richard, but Mark Warburton does not fit the normal managerial mould given his unusual background.

        Success will certainly make people sit up and take notice and he was approached for a top behind the scenes job last year at West Brom which he turned down.

        in my naivety I just hope that he realises how unique a situation he has at Brentford in terms of the infrastructure and approach as well as a new stadium on the horizon, all underpinned by Matthew Benham too.

        Hard to walk away from I hope.

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