A lot of good things came out of yesterday’s match against Preston North End. Most crucially, the Bees won for the first time this season at Griffin Park after coming back from a one goal deficit having conceded a demoralising goal within the first minute of play.
We also discovered a potential star in young Liverpool loanee Sergi Canos who almost singlehandedly turned the game in Brentford’s favour when he came on as a substitute on the hour with Brentford on top but still struggling to find inspiration and an equaliser.
Canos of the twinkling toes and fast, nimble feet was simply too good for the visitors. He played with his head up and saw openings quicker than anyone else in the field. He was as brave and determined as he was skilful on the ball, he was a pest as well as a talent and he made an immediate impact by seizing on an excellent Diagouraga through pass, cutting in from the right wing and his low cut back was comfortably converted at the near post by the predatory Lasse Vibe who scored his third goal of what promises to be a successful season for the striker.
Confidence flooded back into the team and the game turned on its head soon afterwards when Bidwell’s header found Djuricin who turned his marker and under stiff challenge still managed to stride into the area and plant the ball unerringly between Jordan Pickford and his near post.
Suddenly from almost out of nowhere we have a flourishing and dangerous strike partnership with five goals between them in only four games.
From then on there was only one winner and Brentford comfortably survived a long ball barrage from a now dispirited and it has to be said, limited Preston team that had run out of ideas, without too many heart in mouth moments.
This was a must-win match if the Bees were to avert the recent slump and avoid being sucked into the relegation zone, and with the training injury suffered by Max Colin resources were stretched even further with Josh Clarke given his first league start at right back.
He recovered well from an appalling start with Preston attacking down his flank and he was left trailing by Doyle whose centre was met by May. Button saved heroically but Daniel Johnson easily converted the rebound and the Bees were coming from behind get again – the story of this entire season so far.
The first quarter hour was shambolic as Preston found time and space as Brentford were like rabbits in headlights and they wasted several gilt-edged chances to score that crucial second goal that would surely have killed the game almost at its outset.
Alan Judge was everywhere and his influence, energy, effervescence and example allowed a shell shocked Bees team to finally claw themselves off the floor and start to compete. From then on their superior technique came to the fore and the first half chances came and went. Kerschbaumer missed twice after finding time and space in the penalty area, Vibe had his shot blocked from close in and Pickford saved well from Bidwell and sensationally from a free header from Barbet which looked bound for the net.
Button too arched backwards to tip over a close range header from Joe Garner and prevented the striker from scoring his first goal of the season.
After halftime Brentford took control as Preston sat back to defend their lead but it was not until Canos came on and we moved Vibe from out on the right wing where his talents had been wasted, to play just behind Djuricin did the tide fully turn and the Bees finally took advantage of their superiority.
There will be far tougher tests than Preston, starting next Saturday when Sheffield Wednesday come to town, but you can do no more than beat the opponents you are facing on the day.
The defence settled down after an uncomfortable start and Barbet gave us balance and composure on the left hand side and formed a strong and effective partnership with man mountain Harlee Dean. Tarkowski should get his place back when his calf heals but the young Frenchman has impressed since he was thrown in two games ago.
Ckarke too looked good going forward but less so defensively, and we were far more solid when Alan McCormack moved back from midfield to replace him and if, as looks likely, Colin is yet another long term absentee then it will be interesting to see who gets the nod next weekend.
Canos too looked like the ultimate impact substitute but it will surely be tempting for Marinus Duikhuizen to start him against Sheffield Wednesday in the hope that he can weave his magic from the off.
We are still short of experience and inspiration which is hardly surprising when you consider our injury list which shows few signs of diminishing – if anything it is getting even worse.
The midfield trio of Diagouraga, McCormack and Kerschbaumer competed well but lack pace and attacking brio and Ryan Woods must surely be close to his first start.
Jermaine Udumaga came on near the end but was completely outmatched and overwhelmed despite having a shot blocked after more Canos magic, and we are desperately short of cover up front.
The fixture list is relentless and unforgiving and reinforcements are still desperately needed if we are to maintain our impetus or even keep our head above water in the short term. A third striker who can spell Djuricin and Vibe and a creative spark to assist Alan Judge would be more than welcome additions next week.
This win has given us some welcome breathing space and much needed confidence but we are still fragile and punching above our weight given how stretched we are in terms of player availability.
The good news has to be that the newcomers are all learning on the job – even if it is the hard way, and they will all benefit in the long run from having to be thrown in at the deep end.
The crowd dipped below ten thousand for the first time this season, which is not totally unexpected given our shaky start to the season and the problems we have faced but the fans were patient and understanding for the most part and there is a general feeling of sympathy, support and understanding towards Dijkhuizen given his torrid introduction to the hot seat.
A good day then for the Bees after the worst of all possible starts and we all left the ground relieved and wreathed in smiles – but it could all have been so different had Preston taken their early chances and if a star had not been born. On such narrow margins are games decided. We move on re-energised and with increased hope and enthusiasm.