What a difference a few days make.
On Saturday Brentford were clearly second best to Derby County but still managed to throw away an unexpected opportunity to win the game and we left the ground morose and concerned.
Last night I floated on air to my car, my face wreathed with smiles, both from pleasure and also, it has to be said, a fair bit of relief after the Bees totally outplayed Wolverhampton Wanderers and coasted to a three goal victory, their first at home this year.
Make no mistake about it, Brentford were very, very good in the night and ran rings round a Wolves team which was totally unable to cope with our pace, poise, invention and attacking incision.
Wolves, it must be said were totally inept and wandered round the pitch in a trance, as if mesmerised by the sheer quality of our performance.
I well remember a Walsall team similarly going through the motions at Griffin Park way back in January 2006 when it was patently obvious that they were not playing for their then manager, Paul Merson, who was swiftly jettisoned and quite frankly I fear for the future of the esteemed Kenny Jackett if last night is anything to go by, as his team appeared uninterested, disorganised and disinclined to get out of first gear.
Brentford scented blood and started out on the front foot and soon forced their opponents back.
Dean Smith had learned his lesson from Saturday and chose a far more balanced and attacking team with Judge, Swift and Canos all given license to get forward and down the flanks to run at a slow and porous defence that was swiftly overrun.
The visitors had chances on the break and Button made two early, but comfortable saves but it was predominantly one way traffic with Swift gliding past opponents at will and Canos destroying them with his pace.
A young colt brimming with energy and enthusiasm, he roamed both flanks and was a constant source of danger, heading just over and twice forcing saves from Ikeme.
Unlike Derby, who pressed us relentlessly and never gave us a moment’s peace on the ball, Wolves gave us the room, space and time to play, and without having to deal with massive opponents right in their face, Woods and McEachran took full advantage and pulled all the strings in midfield, driving us forward relentlessly.
Woods was a terrier, snapping at the ankles of his opponents and demonstrating his entire range of passes, both long and short.
Josh too showed that when given room he is a match winner and he both sees and finds passes that are totally beyond the wit, vision and imagination of most players at this level of the game.
The first goal was crucial as you felt that our confidence was only skin deep and would quickly evaporate if we fell behind particularly after playing so well.
Chances came and went with Judge cracking a shot onto the outside of the post, Swift forcing a flying save from Ikeme and Djuricin finding ever more inventive ways to miss, but our fears were unfounded as Wolves finally capitulated.
Brentford have only had the merest nodding acquaintance with good fortune lately but finally the Gods smiled down upon us, and not before time.
Judge put on the afterburners and roared into the area where he seemed to have been brought down but the ball fell perfectly for Swift right in front of a yawning goal. His instant shot was blocked by Ikeme but rebounded straight back to him, bounced off some part of his anatomy and dribbled into the corner of the net.
Not a goal to live long in the memory but priceless nevertheless as it was no more than Brentford deserved.
Button made a crucial save early in the second half, spooning McDonald’s effort around the post but Wolves soon returned to their torpor and the one way traffic resumed with the Bees totally on top.
Their dominance was duly rewarded by two quite excellently worked and taken goals.
McEachran spotted Bidwell’s run and threaded the ball to him through the eye of a needle. Judge returned the instant cross to Canos who controlled the ball and almost in the same movement thrashed it into the corner of the net.
Canos was a man inspired and shortly afterwards he twisted past two defenders before his low cross gave Swift a tap in.
It was now a question of how many as a rampant Brentford team with the shackles off played with a confidence and freedom seldom seen since the halcyon days of last season.
It was time for party tricks and Dean, a hero all night, rampaged down the middle like a modern day Nat Lofthouse before finally being overpowered on the edge of the area.
Vibe set up Bidwell whose effort was blocked by the overworked Ikeme who saved his best to the last when he somehow tipped O’Connell’s header away when a fourth goal seemed certain.
Brentford’s display ticked all the boxes last night:
- The first home win of the year
- Three goals scored, and it could quite easily have been six
- A confident, pacy and vibrant performance
- Our trademark short passing game returned with a vengeance
- A much needed and long awaited clean sheet
The match statistics confirmed just how good a performance this was as Brentford dominated with fifty-eight per cent possession, had twenty shots on goal and made over five hundred passes, a much more Brentford-like figure, with a seventy-six per cent success rate.
Even more encouragingly, Josh McEachran, much maligned for his supposed defensive inadequacies, made seven tackles, more than anyone else on the pitch.
Everyone played their part in what was a real team victory, but Swift, Canos, Woods, Dean and Yennaris were particularly impressive and the injured Colin was barely missed.
Only Marco Djuricin was slightly off the pace but he still managed six efforts on goal and there is surely far better to come from him as he slowly regains fitness and sharpness.
Neutral observers were also greatly impressed by Brentford’s performance.
BBC reporter Jacqui Oatley commented:
Brentford lovely to watch. Passing and moving with pace, always an option. Teamwork, cohesion. Hope Alan Judge gets his chance with Ireland.
Nectar to our ears and totally merited and deserved praise given the overall quality of our display.
Dean Smith also deserves great credit for his bravery in the way he set us up as well as his positive team selection.
The team responded perfectly and will now be full of confidence before two tough matches against Rotherham and Charlton teams both fighting for their life at the bottom of the table.
Brentford are unlikely to be given as much space and time as they were last night but have the strength of character and sufficient skill on the ball to prevail.
Isn’t life beautiful when your team wins and plays well?