A Lot To Play For – 21/4/16

There was much to celebrate after Brentford’s victory over Cardiff City at Griffin Park on Tuesday night.

We can can take great satisfaction at cocking a snook at our old friend Russell Slade and yet again tweaking his tail and  and his forlorn and dejected manner at the end of the game was a source of great joy to us all and highlighted that he fully realised that defeat to the Bees had pretty much scuppered Cardiff’s rapidly diminishing chances of making the playoffs.

Frankly, Cardiff were a very mediocre outfit, big and strong certainly but totally unimaginative in their approach and sadly lacking in incision and creativity. They mainly threatened from set pieces and long balls and for a team so limited to finish in the playoff zone would be a travesty and I suspect that there will be some bloodletting and many changes afoot in South Wales at the end of the season.

As for Brentford, the season just keeps getting better and it’s a real shame that there are only four games remaining given how exceptional our form has been over the past five matches.

The thirteen points that we have gleaned over that period has made a top half finish a real possibility, something that few of us would have thought possible a mere few weeks ago and that would be a fitting reward for a team that continues to over perform and show total commitment despite being down to the bare bones and running on empty.

Team selection was a formality last night as we played pretty much everyone who was still fit. Colin could not be risked after his long term injury problems and might well require an operation but there was a silver lining to this cloud as this meant a rare start for Josh Clarke and the youngster more than fulfilled his manager’s expectations with a solid performance in which he defended impeccably and maintained his concentration but also provided a exciting attacking outlet.

He is developing into a real player and his use of the ball was excellent. He is playing for his future and I suspect that last night went a long way towards ensuring that he is offered a new contract.

Alan McCormack has also reached his appearance target for a new contract and will now remain with us next season, an achievement that will be generally welcomed. He has been a massive influence on his teammates both on and off the field and the likes of him and Sam Saunders are worth their weight in gold as they act as teachers, mentors and exemplars  to what is predominantly a young and inexperienced dressing room.

He knows how to manage the game as well as the referee and poor, hapless Stuart Attwell appeared at times to be looking at Macca for approval before blowing his whistle.

We are not the biggest or strongest of teams and victories over the likes of Bolton, Ipswich and Cardiff auger well for the future as these are the types of team that have so often bullied and knocked us out of our stride but no longer is that the case as with the likes of McCormack and Harlee Dean in our team we are no longer a soft touch.

On paper you could look at perhaps half of the Brentford starting eleven last night and wonder if they were all good enough to play in a team that aspires towards the upper reaches of the Championship but the sum of the whole is far greater than that of the individual parts and we have become a team in every meaning of the word.

The first half was accurately described as  dismal by Dean Smith as the visitors dominated possession but did very little with it apart from Pilkington heading wide from close range from a corner. Brentford ran, pressed and covered but there was little quality on view and apart from a Clarke cross which fizzed narrowly past a static Vibe in front of goal and a Woods effort high, wide and not very handsome we were chasing shadows and were more than happy with a blank scoreline at halftime.

Dean Smith’s words at the break ensured that the intensity levels were raised and with McCormack, Woods and Yennaris becoming more influential the chances began to arrive. Marshall saved well from Macca, Kerschbaumer shot over and Vibe missed horribly when he could see the whites of Marshall’s eyes after he and Woods were set free on a two-on-one breakaway after a Cardiff corner was cleared.

The game closely resembled the home match against Nottingham Forest last year when a listless first half was followed by a far more dynamic performance after the break and the common denominator was Sergi Canos, a real live wire who injected some much needed pace and directness into our play. His wonderful back flick played in Bidwell who shot wide and we improved even more with the arrival of Scott Hogan which led to Vibe dropping back into a more withdrawn role.

Cardiff seemed to have shot their bolt and Button was untroubled except for a smart stop from Pilkington and our pressure finally told with seven minutes to go when Bidwell’s left wing corner was flicked towards goal by Yennaris on the near post and Barbet seized upon a ricochet off a defender to smash a close range shot onto the bar and Hogan, Johnny On The Spot, again reacted quickest to slot home the rebound.

As if one goal wasn’t enough, along came another straight away when Yennaris won a midfield challenge and set Vibe away down the middle and he timed his pass perfectly to Hogan who swept the ball past Marshall from a tight angle. Another perfect finish from a striker rapidly recovering both confidence and sharpness.

It wouldn’t be Brentford if we didn’t make a drama out of a crisis and we did our level best to self destruct when Cardiff mounted a late long ball barrage aimed at the massive substitutes Zohore and Ameobi. The former scored when Dean got caught underneath a hoof down the middle and there were two more narrow escapes before Stuart Attwell brought proceedings to a halt.

Four games remain and all that is left for us is to attempt to go through April and May undefeated, finish the season in the top ten, give Fulham a good hiding and win the West London Championship mini league.

Not much to look forward to is there?

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11 thoughts on “A Lot To Play For – 21/4/16

  1. I cannot resist the temptation to say how gratified I was to see Josh Clarke given a full 90 minutes and my previously expressed recognition of his ability more than justified. A new contract asap must surely follow. Delighted for Scott Hogan and his upfront “duo” with Lesse Vibe won us all 3 points–and a “pointer” for the future. Would like to see him start against MK Dons with Lesse as his scoring partner! What have we got to lose ?

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  2. Just so, Peter. What have we got to lose? And how about giving some of the talented under 21s a run out in the last four games?

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    • I’m with you there, Greville. I also feel we should let the medical bods dictate how much game time we should give Scott Hogan.

      Another good read, and excellent use of ‘cocking a snook’. 😀

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  3. Saying they are not good enough is deeply unpleasant, Greville, and unhelpful to youngsters who need all the help and encouragement they can get. Also you’ll never know how good they are unless they have an opportunity to show what they are capable of, playing for real in a team that actually cares about winning.

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  4. David. It’s a fact of life that the overwhelming majority of youngsters coming through any club’s youth development programme are not going to make it for a variety of reasons but generally because they’re not considered to be good enough.

    I can think of many young Bees players who were given a token game at the end of a season and then disappeared without trace.

    Matt Howard, Kevin Teer plus most of those who Martin Allen threw in against Hull and were never seen again.

    It’s rare when a Marcus Rashford emerges out of nowhere and takes the league by storm.

    Coaches generally have a pretty good idea if who’s likely to make it and who isn’t.

    There aren’t too many youngsters who we have released who have come back to haunt us.

    I really don’t understand your comment and reprimand to me.

    If a Cole, Ferry or Holdack is considered a real prospect and likely to make it at the club then, yes, I am proud and delighted if they get their opportunity now but only on that basis and that they deserve to be given a chance. A Football League game is not a consolation prize but ideally a stepping stone.

    I have not mentioned any of our young players by name and suggested that they are not up to it, nor would I do so as that would’ve been cruel.

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  5. well if our youngesters are not good enough then theres a big problem at BFC .so if this the case then the last four or five years have been wasted is not this season but way back and anyway you do not know for sure if they can step up to the first team if you do not give them a chance and i do not mean one or two games.You talk abour rashford but do not forget that MAN u had a lot of injuries and top player not performing and even if they thought he could step up not even the manger would had dream what he has done since given a run in the team.Yes its man u and all they get the good youngesters and iam sure there must be a couple young players who can step up just got to give them a run and now is the best time not like when i came in to BFC team in the seventies who were not just fighting to stay up but to keep our league statues

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  6. That’ll be interesting Greville. Also to look at some of the players who have made it after not getting a chance with their first club.
    Thanks for clearing up your thoughts on young players. I still think that some, like the ones you mention, should be given a chance. And if you can’t do it now when results don’t matter, when can you do it? Right now, if we did have another Rashford, we’d never know.

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