I tried to tell it just as it is in my article yesterday and I stand by every word that I wrote about the problems that we currently face in order to progress, but I also made it totally clear that for Brentford to maintain a top ten place in the Championship is a truly fantastic achievement given the fact that we are competing against far better funded teams pretty much with one hand tied behind our back.
Yesterday was a time for all the talking to stop and for actions to speak louder than words and the Bees stepped up to the plate and turned the form book on its head by ending a run of four consecutive defeats with an exceptional performance leading to a three – one victory at Preston.
Had we lost then the knives would have been out and confidence would have further drained away but a week is a long time in football and we can now forget about the last week or so from hell and concentrate on what lies ahead – firstly a mouthwatering home clash with Leeds United and then the end of the Transfer Window, which cannot close quickly enough for our liking.
There was further scandalous muckraking journalism on the Sky Sports website last night claiming how angry and upset Alan Judge was at our apparent reluctance to offer our star player a new contract commensurate with the eight million pound transfer value we have apparently put on his head. This drivel has surely emanated from an agent desperate to stir up some late interest in his client before the window clangs shut.
I suspect the truth might lie in the fact that Judge’s representative has apparently insisted on a ludicrously low buy out figure being inserted into any new contract offered by the club, thus making it impossible for a new extended deal to be agreed.
This one will run and run until the beginning of February and Judge’s wonderfully taken goal at Preston will obviously make scouts and managers take note of his quite obvious class but I remain hopeful that we will not receive an offer that meets our valuation of him and Alan remains a Bee until the end of the season and that we will enjoy the rare and wondrous sight of a Brentford player competing at Euro 2016 this Summer.
The Bees made four team changes at Preston with Barbet, McEachran, Saunders and Vibe replacing O’Connell, the soon to be departed Diagouraga, Canos and Djuricin, and Lewis Macleod was named in the travelling squad for the first time this season but did not make the final cut.
Brentford controlled long periods of the game and their slick, accurate pass and move style of play made Preston look clumsy and agricultural in comparison. The Bees comfortably out possessed and out passed the home team and scored with all three of their shots on target. Preston managed to outfoul the Bees and also had four players booked to our two.
They also somehow managed to retain a full complement of eleven players for the entire match despite the ghastly Garner and Gallagher giving the referee every opportunity to send them both off but what can you expect when the official is called David Webb?
Our performance was both controlled, disciplined and resilient with Colin the best player on the field and never losing his composure despite receiving a ridiculously soft booking. Barbet too more than justified his promotion and his wonderful long diagonal pass from left to right led to Judge’s instant control and incisive run inside from the wing, leaving his marker trailing behind him in his wake like a constipated camel before he finished clinically for our second goal.
Bidwell had given us the lead with a perfect angled free kick from the edge of the box which took a slight deflection but is surely his goal despite it currently being deemed an own goal, but we squandered our advantage immediately afterwards when a typical neanderthal long up and under was not dealt with by Dean, who had been forced to turn, and the loose ball was eventually poked in by Reach.
We recovered from that self inflicted setback with Woods and the immaculate McEachran seizing control of the midfield, Saunders playing his role as senior pro to perfection and Swift’s energy and trickery on the ball was also far too much for Preston to cope with and they were unable to catch him even to kick him as they chased shadows.
We fully earned our halftime lead which was almost stretched by Woods and Bidwell just before the break but the second half was a far less comfortable affair as we were pushed back and after Doyle and Vibe had both missed early chances at either end of the pitch, Preston took control and for fifteen minutes the home team laid siege to our goal.
Huntington’s header hit the bar, Garner had a goal disallowed for offside and Button made a stupendous save when Garner deflected a Johnson shot and the big keeper somehow changed direction in mid air to turn the ball onto the crossbar for a match winning save that totally beggared belief. His aberration against Middlesbrough is now totally forgotten and firmly put behind him!
Just when a equaliser seemed inevitable, the tide turned and we found our second wind. Kerschbaumer made a valuable contribution with his energy and running after replacing the exhausted McEachran and Canos, the destroyer of Preston at Grifin Park earlier this season, made a similar impact when his immaculate and audacious flick enabled Colin to run through a challenge into space and cross low for Swift to finish Preston off with a clinically taken low shot which also took a helpful deflection and beat the straining goalkeeper.
Brentford fully deserved and had totally earned that slight stroke of good fortune and this was a performance to be proud of as the players simply rolled up their sleeves, worked hard, silenced a vociferous crowd, ignored the intimidation they faced on the pitch as well as a weak and inept referee and played Preston off the park for large portions of the match with some eye catching football.
Suddenly the world seems a far happier place and let’s hope that we can put our recent poor spell of results behind us and that this victory will give us the impetus and confidence to maintain a challenge for the playoffs. And why not? Despite the unavoidable loss of some leading players, yesterday clearly demonstrated that there is still so much talent and ability in the squad and that they are certainly playing for each other and the team.
Colin is a star in the making and Barbet also made a positive impression. Josh McEachran faced a tough task in proving that he is fit, robust and resilient enough to play in the key holding role alongside Ryan Woods, particularly at a tough and unwelcoming bleak Northern outpost and he came through with flying colours. There is also the imminent prospect of Lewis Macleod being given the opportunity to show us what he can do.
There is an old and wise saying that patience is a virtue and yesterday showed that there is so much for us all to be proud about and that those in charge of our club understand far better than us supporters exactly what needs to be done in order to ensure that we maintain our progress and development as an established Championship club. We need to trust them more whilst still retaining the right to question where necessary.
We also have to repeat the mantra that margins are so narrow in this incredibly tight division. We could quite easily have lost at Reading and also picked up points against Birmingham and Middlesbrough. Such is the way of life in the Championship. Yesterday too, for all our dominance turned on one piece of magic from Button.
This was a good day for the club and everybody associated with it and we should all simply enjoy the moment, take a deep breath and look forward to the future with renewed vigour and confidence.