I have been a massive John Mellencamp fan for many years now and there is a lyric from one of his songs that seems totally apposite to describe the events of yesterday:
Sometimes you’re golden, man that’s all I got to say
Yesterday turned out to be a golden day for almost everybody connected with Brentford FC, directors, players, management and supporters alike as we ended a depressing run of four consecutive defeats and celebrated only our third victory of the year.
Unfortunately for some, like rabid Bees supporter, Paul Briers, the day didn’t start out too golden when he made the unremarkable discovery that pouring diesel into a fuel tank designed to receive unleaded petrol is not conducive to an effortless and trouble free journey. Similarly, Chairman Cliff Crown, and I am sure many others, were caught up in a massive M1 tailback around Luton and didn’t get there to share in the celebrations.
Minor quibbles as otherwise yesterday was a total triumph and provided some much needed respite for a team that had been in free fall and appeared to be dropping like a stone towards the bottom three. Now everyone’s face is wreathed in smiles again, there is an overall feeling of relief and some much needed confidence has been restored as we go into Tuesday’s home match against bottom of the table Bolton Wanderers a much healthier nine points, and a far superior goal difference clear of the hated MK Dons, marooned in the final relegation place.
Nottingham Forest, to be quite frank, were a shambolic disgrace on the day and ambled around in the Spring sunshine without any sense of purpose or menace and their defensive aberrations contributed greatly to all three of our goals, but all you can do is beat what is put out against you on the day and Brentford, for once, took full advantage of the opportunities that were put on a plate for them.
The experienced Kevin Wilson whose dithering led to Lasse Vibe scoring the crucial opening goal was subjected to incessant and totally unnecessary booing and vituperative abuse after his error and the apathetic and demoralised home crowd streamed away in droves as soon as the second goal went in. The European Cup winning glory days seem a lifetime away now for a once great club that appears to be rudderless and to be going nowhere fast and their supporters certainly did not appreciate their team losing twice in a season to the minnows of Brentford.
Dean Smith had sensibly concentrated on working on defensive organisation during the International Break, perhaps because most of his midfielders and strikers were either injured or away on International duty. His efforts were rewarded with a passionate and energetic display in which the back four played like a well drilled unit, covered for each other and, most importantly, eradicated the daft errors and lack of concentration that had cost us so dear recently. Forest, frankly did not get a sniff of goal and barely created a chance worthy of the name all afternoon and David Button enjoyed one of his easiest games of the season.
Dean and Barbet are finally developing an understanding and are turning into a cohesive partnership and once the Frenchman stops passing the ball to the opposition in dangerous positions he will be a formidable player. Max Colin made a triumphant return to the team, almost scored and defended with his life before, worryingly, limping off late on and Jake Bidwell was back to his unobtrusive best.
Our first clean sheet away from home for over five months was testimony to the efforts of the entire team as we certainly defended from the front. McCormack, Woods and Yennaris ran, covered, pressed and harried and never gave the lethargic home team time to settle on the ball and when one of our elaborate free kick routines backfired and set Forest away on a five-on-one breakaway reminiscent of Tony Craig against Oldham in 2013, it was Alan Judge who showed energy and total commitment to the cause by chasing back eighty yards and putting in a crucial last ditch tackle to save the day when all seemed lost.
Nico Yennaris covered every blade of grass, used the ball well and gave his best ever display in a Brentford shirt and was deservedly rewarded with his first goal for the club. A few repeat performances and he runs the risk of moving beyond grudging acceptance and becoming a firm fan favourite.
The first half was almost devoid of action and goal chances were at a premium and given the recent poor record of both teams the first goal was always going to be crucial. The injury bug bit yet again when Leandro Rodríguez damaged his hamstring and as he disappeared down the tunnel we wondered if we will ever see the Everton loanee again in a Brentford shirt. He now joins the likes of McEachran, Macleod, Swift, Hofmann and Hogan on the injured list where he might well be joined by Colin, Button, Judge and Yennaris who all suffered knocks yesterday and the selection process for Tuesday’s match might well be a formality as we are rapidly running out of fit players.
Someone’s injury however is another’s opportunity and Lasse Vibe, so lacking in strength, bite and verve recently took full advantage. He ran around like a scalded cat, his confidence restored by his recent appearance for Denmark and the time he spent with his high quality international team mates. He scored for the first time since mid-December when he got in behind Wilson and poked home Alan Judge’s perfectly placed lofted through ball which held up and needed to be dealt with by either defender or goalkeeper and when they left it for each other Vibe nipped in and scored.
Brentford visibly grew in confidence as Forest wilted in the sunshine and it soon became obvious that the only team that could deny Brentford the coveted three points was themselves and as long as we avoided a similar giveaway then a much needed victory was well in our sights.
The second goal came from an unexpected source when Bidwell’s right wing corner was somehow missed by Dean, in total isolation on the near post, and as he still remonstrated with himself, the ball caromed off a defender and dropped perfectly for Yennaris who just beat the straining Vibe to hammer the ball into the corner of the net. Cue wild celebrations with the travelling hordes tucked away in the corner of the pitch.
Inspired by his goal, Vibe ran the channels selflessly and when he got in behind Lichaj the hapless defender dragged him back and saw red. Victory was assured when Forest surrendered the ball in midfield and Vibe sent his pass into the now yawning gap on Forest’s right flank and Sergi Canos took the chance perfectly and angled his instant shot into the far corner. Game over!
Three goals, three points and a clean sheet. What more can you ask for? A few less injuries perhaps, but this was a day when everybody came together again and the entire club united. The fans fed off the team and the players responded to the massive support that they received.
This victory has hopefully arrested our slump but this is not a time for complacency as our last win, also by three clear goals over Wolves, was followed by a demoralising run of four consecutive defeats and we need to keep our foot on the gas and not feel that the job has been done. We still need at least one more victory to assure ourselves of Championship football again next season and the long-suffering supporters are also long overdue some victories at Griffin Park. There is still much to play for and the season must not be allowed to peter out with a whimper.
Hopefully yesterday, golden though it was, was a turning point rather than a one-off.