Memories of Blackburn – No, Not That One! – 12/12/14

judSo Blackburn Rovers come to Griffin Park tomorrow and will present another massive challenge to the Bees.

But this is a season that just keeps on giving and I am fully confident that Brentford will rise to the occasion and put on a good display.

Will that be enough to ensure victory?

Who knows, as margins are so narrow in this incredible division.

One mistake, one piece of inspiration, one refereeing howler, is generally enough to settle the issue.

Will it be the predatory Jordan Rhodes, ominously quiet of late, to step into the spotlight or perhaps it will be the new kid on the block, Andre Gray who wins the game for us?

Whatever happens, the game is something to relish and look forward to.

Yet another massive name will grace Griffin Park, but on the evidence of so many previous matches this season, Brentford will simply play the eleven men on the pitch and not the badge, tradition and heritage of their opponents.

Brentford will be fully prepared and well aware of the threats that Blackburn pose.

David Dunn’s subtlety, the aerial prowess of the massive Rudy Gestede, Ben Marshall’s pace and directness,  Duffy’s strength at the back, all will have been noted by the all-seeing eye of Mark Warburton and his analysis team and counter measures prepared.

But, as we all know by now, Mark is far more concerned about seizing the initiative and ensuring that we impose ourselves on the game.

There is more than enough about us to make Blackburn concerned, and if we play to our full potential then they will certainly know that they have been in a game.

Alan Judge has been simply phenomenal so far this season, buzzing around in the centre one moment, flying down the wing the next, then back in defence to help out.

His energy is boundless, his skill on the ball eye-catching.

All that is missing is more goals and they are sure to come.

He finally opened his account in the last home game against Wolves and is knocking on the door with a barrage of long-range shots practically every week.

One day the floodgates will open and tomorrow, when he will be sure to want to impress his former employers, would certainly be a good time.

As for the team selection, Warbs has hinted that he has a few dilemmas.

Does he stick or twist?

Leave well alone for the fourth consecutive game or bring in some fresh legs and ideas?

I suspect that there might be a couple of changes tomorrow when the team is announced.

But all that is for the future and I am now going to look back to a previous meeting between the club.

But not the one that I am sure most of you would choose.

Many words have already been written about the epic Fifth Round FA Cup victory at Ewood Park in February 1989, a match that is etched into our memory banks, and rightly so, as it was one of the all-time great Brentford performances and days out.

What is generally forgotten is that it was in fact the third time we had played Blackburn during that momentous season.

Way back in September 1988 we were drawn against Rovers in the Second Round of the Littlewoods Cup, a two legged affair in those days.

We lost fairly comfortably by three goals to one in the away match and therefore had a two goal deficit to make up at Griffin Park against a team that was pushing for promotion from the then Second Division.

We supporters obviously felt so confident about the team’s chances of success that a paltry crowd of three thousand eight hundred and forty four was all that bothered to attend what turned out to be an enthralling match on a chilly October evening.

Matches under the lights at Griffin Park have a magic all of their own and this was to prove no exception as Brentford touched new heights of attacking prowess.

We simply battered our visitors who started slowly and we missed countless chances before Neil Smillie split their defence and sent Richard Cadette away for a calmly taken goal.

Blackburn belatedly woke up and with the marvellous Scott Sellars pulling the strings and the dangerous Simon Garner up front, took total control and scored three times either side of halftime.

They now had a seemingly unassailable four goal lead and, job done, or so they thought, they sat back, well content.

With the initiative handed back to them on a plate and with Andy Sinton and Keith Jones prompting affairs, Brentford produced a final half hour of immense quality.

Cadette wriggled through, turned swiftly and scored.

Andy Sinton scored from the edge of the area with a quarter of an hour to go and then Keith Jones put us back within touching distance of a miracle with a spectacular long-range shot.

smeuThe last five minutes resembled the Alamo. Blackburn were shellshocked and relied upon the wonderful goalkeeping of the immaculate Terry Gennoe to get them over the line.

He arched backwards to save from a Blissett header that had looked a goal all the way and somehow the visitors held out.

More than that, deep into injury time, they broke away and were awarded a soft penalty.

An equalising goal on the night would have been harsh on Brentford and loanee John Smeulders plunged to his right to save Howard Gayle’s kick and ensure that justice was done.

So a four-three victory on the night but a six-five defeat on aggregate, but this was certainly a night to remember for the Bees.

Brentford took heart from this performance when they were drawn against Blackburn later in the season in the FA Cup and they knew that they had nothing to fear.

They took that belief into the big game at Ewood Park, played with confidence and ability, and never looked back.

Inspired by the tenacious Simon Ratcliffe who played an immense game in midfield, Brentford did more than hold on.

They dominated proceedings almost from start to finish and it came as no surprise when the home team finally cracked and two late Gary Blissett goals gave Brentford a fully deserved victory.

Let’s hope that the team takes inspiration from the lessons of history and achieves a similar result tomorrow.

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