It still seemed a bit soon to be be fighting my way through the horrendous late Friday afternoon traffic on the A1 towards Boreham Wood and I quite honestly cannot remember seeing Brentford play in a friendly match this early in July.
The match was scheduled for the eighth of July to fit in with the timing of Brentford’s training camp and as I write these words they are on their way to Germany for a week of hard work and team bonding.
I noted with despair but not too much surprise some wittering and moaning on The Griffin Park Grapevine last night from one-eyed supporters angry at the fact that we lost the match to a non-league team by two goals to one.
How could we have allowed ourselves to be defeated by such a scratch outfit? The players should be reminded of their responsibilities and given double training sessions as a punishment. And as for that Dean Smith – he needs a severe talking to.
The best way to deal with such inane nonsense is simply to bite your tongue and let it pass unchallenged. If you engage and remind the idiots that this was no more than a training exercise designed merely to get some much needed match practice and minutes into the legs of the entire squad and help get the cobwebs out of their system then it is likely that your words will fall on deaf and unsympathetic ears.
Yes of course I would have preferred that we had won last night as a victory, however hollow, fills the mind with confidence but I well remember many false dawns when we roared unbeaten through the preseason, hammering the might of Yeading and Hampton and their like before falling into mediocrity when the serious business began in August.
Better we play ourselves into form gradually and ideally peak at the beginning of August rather than July!
Just to remind everyone that there is still a whole month to go before we start our Championship campaign, time enough for the squad to settle down and for Dean Smith to decide upon his starting eleven and favoured formation.
Last night was about experimentation with two separate mix and match elevens playing each half and two formations adopted. The customary 4-2-3-1 before the break and a 3-5-1-1 for much of the second half.
It has to be said that Boreham Wood looked a decent outfit. They narrowly escaped relegation from the National League last season and lessons seem to have been learned and they have recruited well and there was some real quality on show with the likes of former QPR winger Bruno Andrade, ex-Braintree skipper Kenny Davis and new keeper Grant Smith who proved to be unbeatable on the night.
As for the Bees, they played patient and precise passing football which was easy on the eye but ultimately lacked pace and penetration. They were never put under too much pressure but creaked ominously when conceding two poorly defended goals.
They fell asleep from a throw in and allowed a cross from the left to be played back to Andrade and his instant volley from a tight angle was brilliant and unstoppable.
As for the second, Gogia, playing in an unfamiliar wingback role sold Bonham horribly short with a headed back pass, ex-Bee Ricky Shakes nipped in and collided with the keeper who was perhaps harshly adjudged to have fouled the striker. A penalty it was and Bonham partially redeemed himself with a cracking save from Conor Clifford’s spot kick but the ball fell loose and the rebound was easily converted by the kicker.
Brentford created a plethora of chances, particularly in the first half, but they went begging. Bradley Clayton played wide out on the right but he has an instinct for goals and was only foiled by a wonderful save from Smith as was John Egan from a close-range diving header. Barbet went close from long-range and after the break Gogia was also foiled by the keeper and then shot over from a free kick on the edge of the box. Holldack too came close from twenty-five yards before the Bees scored a late consolation goal from a short corner.
The ball was worked from left to right and eventually fell to Harlee Dean in an unfamiliar position out on the right wing. His cross was perfectly measured for Lewis Macleod who stole in on the back post and headed home. Too little too late and the home team held on amid much local jubilation.
So what did we learn? Not too much given the nature of the evening and the make-up of the squads employed by the Bees.
In no particular order:
- Tom Field looked solid and overlapped well
- Barbet and Egan looked dominant and Egan is a real beast, totally committed in everything he does. He won everything both in the air and on the ground and looked a massive danger in the opposition penalty area too. It is going to be a fascinating tussle for the shirt between him and Harlee Dean who also was composed on the night
- Max Colin looked nimble and quick and free from injury worries
- KK has filled out and looked keen and eager on the ball and used it well. He is going to be a real player as is Ryan Woods who played in a deep holding role which does not best utilise his massive talent
- Philipp Hofmann looks a new man and has shed a ton of weight. He looked lean and mean but did not see too much of the ball
- Chris Mepham is a major find and did not look out of place alongside Dean and Andreas Bjelland.
- Bjelland was careful in his first game for almost year but looked comfortable on the ball and cruised through the half
- Josh Clarke did show some pace but was crowded out whenever he came forward
- Lewis Macleod was the best player on the pitch and we hopefully have a match winner on our hands at last. He has an eye for a pass, makes late runs into the box and was full of energy. What a prospect he is
- Scott Hogan did not really get into the game and suffered a knee in his back which forced his early withdrawal
- Sawyers and Vibe had been given extra time off to recover from their international exertions and Yennaris, Saunders and McEachran were not to be seen
There is not much more to say, we came, we played, we experimented and we lost. As far as the result is concerned – so what? We now move on with fitness enhanced and the preseason campaign continues as planned.
Just to let everyone know that my new book Growing Pains – a four hundred page monster that covers all of the events both on and off the field from last season is now available in the BFC Superstore and via Amazon at
I really hope that you seek it out and enjoy it. Any feedback and reviews would be really welcomed.
I will do my best to keep my blog updated as often as I can given that my main endeavour this season is to write a biography of Bees legend Bob Booker.
In that regard I would welcome any stories, memorabilia or clippings relating to him.