Jeepers Keepers – Part Five – 29/4/15

wsToday we will conclude our review of all the Brentford goalkeepers from the past forty-five years, and we pick up the story in 2008/09 with loanee Ben Hamer firmly in possession of the position. His backup was Seb Brown, a self-admitted AFC Wimbledon fan who played once for us in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and saved a penalty in a shootout victory over Yeovil before signing for his favourite team where his two penalty shootout saves against Luton helped them gain entry into the Football League. Young Lloyd Anderson also had his moment in the sun when he came on to replace Hamer when he was stupidly sent off at Barrow and he conceded two goals for his trouble before finally ending up as perhaps the only other Brentford player since Keith Hooker to play for both Brentford and Brentwood Town. Mikkel Andersen was another one-game-wonder, as one Reading loan goalkeeper replaced another when Hamer was suspended. Mikkel could not have chosen a more exciting game to play in and he really looked the part too in our last gasp victory over Bradford City in which he was named Man of the Match. Not a bad way to mark your only appearance for the club. Mikkel is still only twenty-six and was stuck on Reading’s bench when we played them last Saturday, but I fully expect that he will eventually make his breakthrough and become an established top level goalkeeper.

With Hamer returning to his parent club, newly promoted Brentford were on the lookout for a new goalkeeper and they ended up playing four of them throughout the 2009/10 season. Andy Scott was apparently offered Everton’s John Ruddy on a season-long loan but changed his mind at the last moment and signed Derby County’s Welsh International keeper, Lewis Price instead. This was not one of the best decisions that he ever made given how well Ruddy has subsequently progressed and Price’s inconsistency. Lewis did made a phenomenal last minute save from Morgan Schneiderlin to earn us a meritorious point at Southampton, but, looking far smaller and frailer than his claimed height of six foot three inches, he never really convinced and conceded a bizarre last minute equaliser at home to Millwall from a forty-yard free kick from way out on the left wing which precipitated his replacement, but more of that anon.

The Bees also made the surprise signing of Aldershot’s Nicky Bull who, after being their undisputed first choice for many years, had decided to retire but quickly changed his mind and joined Brentford as back-up keeper instead. He spent a frustrating year largely kicking his heels after suffering a back injury but his rare appearances saw him go from the ridiculous to the sublime when firstly he dozily stepped over his own goal line whilst still holding onto Simon Francis’s seemingly innocuous long-range free kick against Southend before saving a penalty kick at Leyton Orient. Bull was soon forgotten when Scott then totally redeemed himself by making perhaps the most inspired signing of his managerial career in young Arsenal starlet Wojciech Szczęsny.

Not yet twenty years of age but already a full international for Poland, he saved a penalty kick in his second match and it was immediately obvious that we had a star on our hands. He remained on loan until the end of the season, conceded just over a goal per game and his incredible all-round ability and sheer force of personality shone through. He put on goalkeeping masterclasses game after game and some of the saves he made against Norwich, Leeds, Carlisle and Bristol Rovers in particular beggared belief. Have a look on Youtube if you doubt me and I guarantee that you will be as astounded as I was. His ability was merely confirmed by the general bemusement amongst Bees supporters when he had a rare off day and played appallingly against MK Dons and was totally responsible for two soft goals, but as the old saying goes – “the defects of great men are the consolation of the dunces.” He received the ultimate accolade of receiving a fully deserved standing ovation from the home supporters when he was withdrawn for Simon Moore to make a brief debut just prior to the final whistle of the last game of the season so that he could milk their applause. We will not see his like again as he was precociously brilliant and light years ahead of anyone else we had watched at Griffin Park, in my memory at least.

leeHow do you replace such an icon? Well Andy Scott seemed to have hit the jackpot when he brought in experienced Watford keeper Richard Lee, but he made a disastrous start and was rusty and unimpressive in his first two preseason appearances. Scott handled the situation poorly and instead of giving Lee, a keeper of proven ability and pedigree, the opportunity to settle in to the role, he immediately banished him to the bench and gave young Simon Moore a brief chance before bafflingly auditioning two more loan keepers who further muddied the water. Alex McCarthy was yet another Reading goalkeeper who followed the well-trodden path to Griffin Park but he was soon on his way back after a tentative and stuttering loan spell which saw six goals fly past him in only three games. McCarthy has subsequently proved himself at Premier League level but he was distinctly below average for us.

Like a bad penny, Ben Hamer was soon back for his third loan spell at Brentford replacing his own teammate Alex McCarthy. Again he did nothing wrong but by this time the Bees had embarked upon successful runs in both the Carling Cup and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and Richard Lee seized his chance to establish himself as our “Cup Keeper” with some phenomenal performances. He impressed in a narrow win over Hull City before earning his spurs with a superlative match-winning performance against Premier League giants Everton. Lee made save after save to help keep us afloat before becoming an instant hero when saving Jermaine Beckford’s effort in the penalty shootout. Our Carling Cup run came to a cruel halt with a shootout defeat at Birmingham in the next round but it was in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy where Lee came into his own as the Bees won three penalty shootouts in a row against Orient, Swindon and Charlton on their way to a Wembley final appearance. I have written previously about Richard’s Three Card Trick against Charlton when he emulated Graham Benstead’s feat against Wrexham and made three consecutive, and indeed, outrageous penalty saves. Not surprisingly Lee soon took over in league matches too from the blameless Hamer who had become surplus to requirements. As if fate had not intervened enough, Lee’s roller coaster season ended with him being named as Player of the Year but also missing out on a place at Wembley when he dislocated his shoulder making a brave save against Orient.

Poor Richard never had much luck with injuries and eventually his recurring shoulder problems forced him out of the reckoning far too early and for good, and this enabled firstly Simon Moore and then David Button to establish themselves in the first team. He has remained in the background in a supporting role and as an overall good influence and will retire at the end of the season after a long and distinguished career that never quite rose to the heights that his undoubted ability suggested. Given his popularity and affability we will gloss over his recent short-term and career-ending loan at Fulham! His business nous and intelligence will surely provide him with a fulfilling and successful post-football career.

Goalkeeping Coach Simon Royce, a man who had already enjoyed an excellent career, deputised for Lee when he was sent off and subsequently suspended and clearly demonstrated in his brief appearances that it was time for him to pack up for good and concentrate on teaching rather than doing. Trevor Carson, a loanee from Sunderland, also made a brief cameo appearance at Sheffield Wednesday and was never seen again.

Simon Moore fought his way up from being an unheralded trialist from the Isle of Wight and, aided by Lee’s injury battles, he became first choice and quickly demonstrated his exceptional ability. Unspectacular, calm and competent he made few mistakes and picked crosses out of the air with consummate ease. Having secured his reputation as one of the brightest talents outside the top flight, he joined Premier League Cardiff City on the eve of the 2013/14 campaign for a substantial fee but his career has unfortunately stymied as he has so far been unable to displace David Marshall.

Unknown Frenchman Antoine Gounet emulated Gus Hurdle by walking unannounced into the training ground and earning himself a contract. He was small, agile and unorthodox and finally earned his opportunity when helping the Bees to an FA Cup replay victory over Bradford City before fading out of contention.

That leads us to the present day, and our excellent current pairing of David Button and Jack Bonham about both of whom I have already written extensively. We have been blessed with some exceptional goalkeepers over the past four decades or so and whilst comparisons are invidious, if pushed, my top ten in terms of a combination of talent and overall popularity would be as follows:

  • Chic Brodie
  • Steve Sherwood
  • Len Bond
  • Dave McKellar
  • Graham Benstead
  • Paul Smith
  • Wojciech Szczęsny
  • Richard Lee
  • Simon Moore
  • David Button

Please let me know if your verdict differs from mine, as I am sure that it will.

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The Grass Isn’t Always Greener – 30/1/15

fThere might well be an old friend playing against us on Saturday but most likely Adam Forshaw will start the game on the substitutes’ bench and it will be interesting to hear what sort of welcome and reception that he receives from the aficionados on New Road.

His move from Wigan to Middlesbrough was described to me this morning by another Bees fan as “just another rat leaving the sinking ship.” Harsh but maybe accurate as he played a mere seventeen matches for Wigan and remained there for only five months before moving on.

It all looked so good for him when he left Brentford, but his dream move turned sour very quickly and he has explained his recent whirlwind state of affairs in an interview published on the Middlesbrough website today:

I had two great years at Brentford.We went very close in my first year there by getting to the play-off final. Unfortunately we missed out, but the following season we went one better and went up as runners-up. I know Brentford have a lot of good players but I am honestly surprised to see them doing so well this season.

People keep saying they will fall off but they are not showing any signs of it, so all respect to them, including the staff and players and everyone there. They will be tough opposition on Saturday. Their home ground is a bit of a fortress to them, so we’ll have to be really ready. They get about 12,000 fans and they are really close to the pitch. They are a good set of fans and they are a really good football team, but I am more than confident that we can go there and get a result.

 It’s been a strange last five days or so, it hasn’t been great on the pitch with Wigan and off it there have a few problems with the reshaping of the squad. When I found out an offer was being made, and that a bid had been accepted, then I was really looking forward to the challenge of coming to Middlesbrough. 

I loved my two years at Brentford. We got promoted and when I found out that Wigan wanted me, I was over the moon. I believed it was going to be a great move, something that would be good for my career. Unfortunately, it proved not to be. It was a tough five or six months and, like I said, when this chance arose I grabbed it with both hands. We were having a bad time on the pitch. They were some great players there and a lot of people say they can’t understand why they are in that position. It’s hard to put your finger on it. Putting that to one side, I’m now a Middlesbrough player and I’m relishing the challenge here. First and foremost, I know how big a club this is. Watching from afar, the style of play is really encouraging. That excites you. I’m a midfielder that likes to play football so to be coming into a team like this is really exciting.

Forshaw is just the latest player to join the brain drain or, less charitably, fire sale from Wigan and follows Callum McManaman, Roger Espinoza, Ben Watson and Shaun Maloney out of the exit door from the DW Stadium. Either they are clearing the decks and ridding themselves of all their prime sellable assets and top earners in preparation for a rocky road ahead and likely relegation to the First Division, or this is Malky Mackay’s last gasp effort to build a team in his own image that will keep them in the Championship.

As for Forshaw I hoped that he would realise that he would benefit from another year of seasoning at Brentford but his comments above make it clear that he did not expect us to perform as well as we have done and his head was turned and he felt that he was bettering himself by virtue of his move to Wigan.

Once Forshaw had made it clear that he wanted to leave and that his mind was made up, I really admired the way we handled a difficult situation that could easily have turned nasty, as we effectively put him on gardening leave, isolated him from the rest of the squad and concentrated solely on extracting the maximum value for him from Wigan. The deal was fiddly and protracted, and if we are to believe the rumourmongers, involved Wigan negotiating away the 50% sell-on clause we had with Everton, and all ended happily. We received top dollar for a young player who had cost us nothing and Wigan won the services of an exceptional talent.

What’s happened since hasn’t gone totally according to the script. We have gathered strength and momentum and barely missed him given our undoubted strength in depth in midfield and Forshaw surprisingly struggled to make any impact in an underperforming Wigan team and was in and out off he team. He was stationed in front of his back four when we played at Wigan and looked a mere shadow of the dominating presence that we had been accustomed to see at Griffin Park.

I can understand his desire to leave us even if I don’t entirely agree with it and despite the temporary upset it caused us I suspect and indeed hope that the move to Middlesbrough revitalises him as Forshaw is far too good a player to be struggling to make his mark in the Championship.

As it is he is still simply one more example of the Curse of Griffin Park and muddled thinking. Adam Forshaw is one more in an ever-growing list of players who thought the grass would be greener away from Griffin Park.

Simon Moore’s career has stood still over the past couple of seasons and he has played far fewer games than his talent has warranted. He is more than young and good enough to come again but he needs to play regularly at Championship level, something that would have happened had he remained at Bremtford.

Harry Forrester is the saddest case of all as Brentford and Doncaster have passed each other like ships in the night and, despite his gifts, he is now no more than an injury prone winger playing for an average First Division club who bursts into life and illuminates matches with his sheer ability far too infrequently. He made an cataclysmically poor decision to leave Brentford and it is one that I suspect haunts him to this day when he looks ruefully at how far we have progressed and how his career has gone backwards and become stymied.

A couple of months ago I would have added Clayton Donaldson to the Hall of Shame as both he and his new club, Birmingham City had both started the season slowly, but the Blues have recovered under Gary Rowett’s inspired leadership and Clayton has scored an impressive ten league goals and now resembles the dynamic, powerful leader of the line that we so enjoyed throughout his three years at Griffin Park.

The message to me is clear. Footballers have a short and unpredictable career and it is quite understandable that they seek to better themselves and maximise their earnings. But sometimes the seemingly obvious move is not in their long term best interest and it is best to simply do nothing.

I hope that our current crop of stars have learned from the examples above that given our rapid rise up the totem pole, our increasing profile, the quality of the coaching they receive  and the way in which we play the game, Brentford is a fitting and appropriate place for them to hone, develop and show off their burgeoning abilities and that the grass is not necessarily greener elsewhere.

Perception v Reality – 11/1/15

seI have just spent a fascinating  four minutes and forty-five seconds listening to the post match thoughts of Rotherham manager Steve Evans after Brentford’s hard fought and narrow one-nil victory yesterday. And very interesting they were too.

Perhaps it would be best if I simply note down what he said in an interview that took place very soon after the final whistle, admittedly at a time when emotions were still running high and there had not been a cooling off period or any time for any serious reflection or reasoned analysis of the game beyond the immediate evidence of his own eyes. We can then attempt to look at his comments more objectively and I will try and dispense with my innate Brentford supporting bias when I reflect on the truth or otherwise of his assertions.

1. Everyone in the ground knows that we should have been three-nil up at halftime.

Rotherham had the strong wind in the favour in the first half and we tried to play a high line and our offside trap let us down on several occasions.

Matt Derbyshire was mobile and lively for the visitors and timed his runs well to get in behind our defence, but he had one major drawback for a striker – a total inability to hit a barn door with his shots on goal. He looked nothing more than what he is, a striker totally bereft of confidence who has scored the grand total of one measly goal in the League Cup all season.

He dithered and let Button smother at his feet, allowed Tarkowski to dispossess him far too easily when in on goal, shot wastefully over and then passed to nobody when he had the opportunity of a close range shot from a tight angle.

Smallwood also broke the offside trap after a well-timed run, and had a wonderful chance but failed to put his foot through the ball when totally unmarked and directly in front of goal, and the ball dribbled through embarrassingly to a relieved Button. That was a lucky let off!

Several other long range efforts threatened the crowd behind the Ealing Road goal more than the Brentford keeper.

Brentford were second best for the first half an hour of the game, slow to react and lacking in energy, tempo and confidence. Their normal slick passing was conspicuous by its absence and they sorely missed the spark and vision of the injured Alan Judge.

That being so, from time to time our passing combinations and skill on the ball created holes in the Rotherham defence. Moses Odubajo, who mesmerised the visitors for the entire game, breezed past two defenders and his cross was met by Stuart Dallas whose header might have been goal bound but hit Jonathan Douglas and inched past the near post.

Alex Pritchard’s trickery and skill on the ball took him past a defender and gave him the space for a measured lob which went narrowly over the crossbar, and his late free kick whistled past the post with Adam Collin a mere spectator. Andre Gray did have the ball in the net from Jota’s pass but was just offside.

So on the balance of play Rotherham did create the better chances in the first half and Smallwood should have gobbled up his opportunity. A one-nil scoreline in their favour would not have flattered them but it was obvious as the half progressed that the Bees were growing into the match.

Veracity Verdict (out of five)3 as he loses two marks for exaggeration.

2. They got a fortuitous goal coming from the goalkeeper shanking a ball.

Firstly let’s give Steve Evans some credit as he admitted that it was a great strike by Stuart Dallas, and he is also correct in that David Button hit a hasty clearance under pressure which went low and hard straight to the feet of Jake Bidwell just over the halfway line. So, yes, the pass was fortuitous but let’s face it, Brentford had quite a lot to do to score from there and they did it extremely well.

Bidwell, Pritchard and Dallas exchanged slick passes down the touchline and the full back’s centre was met by Jota whose low volley was blocked by a defender straight to Dallas who had anticipated cleverly and made ground to the edge of the area, and his instant falling right footed volley from twenty yards was beautifully struck and far too good for Collin who managed to get a despairing hand to the shot which was perfectly placed into the corner of the net.

So I will give Evans a Veracity Verdict of 2 as Button’s clearance could have gone anywhere, but went straight to where Bidwell invariably positions himself as a potential target for his goalkeeper’s clearances. Rotherham then had several opportunities to defend against the goal but were outsmarted by our skill, movement, passing ability and the eventual lethal strike from Dallas who has now scored six goals this season in all competitions and deserves far more credit than he gets.

3. It was the save of the season for me. If he makes one like that then he would not be playing for Brentford would he?

Making allowances for his tangled and tortured English, the message is clear. Evans feels that his team was robbed of their just desserts by David Button’s fantastic late save from a close range Paul Green header that seemed bound for the roof of the net before the giant keeper arched backwards to tip the ball over.

It certainly was a wonderful reflex save and the ball seemed as though it had gone past him before he managed to stretch out a long right arm and turn the ball over the crossbar in less time than it takes to write this sentence.

But save of the season? Not for me as I think it was easily bettered by his miraculous tip over from Lee Novak of Birmingham, who had a free header at goal from almost under the cross bar.

Button has improved dramatically over the course of the season and we have almost got to the stage where we expect him to pull off seemingly impossible saves as a matter of course, so I will give a Veracity Verdict of 3.

4. They’ve had a bit of a football battering today. We’ve out-passed them and outplayed them and dominated the game for long spells.

Well, I would agree that we were tentative and immobile early on and Rotherham were sharper in the challenge and created the better chances in the first half, but it was a different tale after the break. After we scored, confidence flooded back and Brentford spurned many chances for a match clinching second goal. Andre Gray was put clean through and fired wastefully against the keeper’s knee before Jota, forced onto his right foot, amazingly spooned the rebound over the bar with the goal gaping. Douglas was denied a tap in by a brilliant Wooton clearance close to the goal line, Pritchard hit the post with a bobbling long range effort with the goalkeeper nowhere, and Douglas had a late effort cleared off the line.

Rotherham huffed and puffed but created very few clear chances and Brentford should have been well out of sight before Button’s late match winning heroics from Green’s header.

Perhaps we should simply let the match statistics speak for themselves:

Brentford had a massive 66% of the overall possession, although previous defeats have demonstrated that it is what you do with the ball rather than possession for its own sake that wins matches. Over the course of the ninety-five minutes duration of the match, Brentford played a total of 612 passes with an impressive 78% passing success rate compared with Rotherham’s 319 and 58% respectively. Brentford managed fifteen shots with five on target and Rotherham had seventeen with only four troubling Button.

Those figures illustrate quite clearly that Brentford more than edged proceedings – they dominated them, and after the tentative opening minutes of the game when Rotherham failed to make their chances count, the home team were well on top.

Veracity Verdict – 0

5. Look at the three players we have pulled from the wilderness, Adam Hammill, Danny Ward and Jack Barmby. They’d play in the Brentford team, everyone of them.

Would they indeed? Adam Hammill is an established Championship player who has had a spell in the Premier League at Wolves but has failed to settle anywhere, has a conviction for assault and at twenty-six is unlikely to get much better. No thanks.

Danny Ward is more intriguing as he is a highly talented left winger who has so far failed to show his true potential. He looked a world beater when on loan at Swindon five years ago and at twenty-four he could still possibly justify the near one million pound fee that he commanded from Huddersfield, but again, I would pass.

Jack Barmby is far more of an unknown quantity. The son of Nick, he obviously comes from wonderful football genes and earned a place at Manchester United before moving to Leicester City after a decent loan spell last season at Hartlepool. He looked clever on the ball and troubled us early on with his movement. Of the three, he would be the one I would possibly take given his youth and development potential, but I do not think he would be anywhere near our first team at present.

Veracity Verdict – 0

6. His movement caused carnage in the Brentford defence.

Amazingly enough Evans is referring  to Matt Derbyshire who I have commented on earlier in this article. It must be said that he did lead the line effectively and took up good positions, made good runs and get behind our back four on several occasions. But carnage? Come on Mr Evans! I would refer you to a dictionary which defines the word as “the slaughter of a great number of people.” Did I miss something yesterday or is Steve Evans simply engaging his mouth again before exercising his brain?

Veracity Verdict – 0

7. Brentford are a quality side and have spent £10million on transfers and we have outperformed and outplayed them for long spells.

I would refer you to the answer to question four above concerning the second part of that assertion, and as for the first. Words simply fail me. Transfer fees are notoriously hard to estimate as they are largely undisclosed nowadays, but I have had a quick stab on the pack of a fag pack and I have gone through the entire squad, not just this season’s signings, and also included Will Grigg. My figures are entirely based on guesswork and rumours in the press and on social media, and I have no idea how accurate they may be. I have come up with a figure of around £5.5 million for the entire squad, but that includes fees paid in previous years for the likes of Tony Craig, Will Grigg, James Tarkowski, Toumani Diagouraga, Jake Bidwell and David Button. Obviously there are loan fees, agents’, signing on and relocation fees to add on top but it is clear that the figure plucked out of the air by Evans yesterday is wildly exaggerated. Brentford have also brought in substantial sums from the sales of Adam Forshaw, Simon Moore and Harry Forrester which have greatly reduced our net outlay.

Perhaps if Steve Evans had concentrated more on quality rather than quantity and not embarked on a wild trolley-dash that has seen him bring in well over twenty players this season he would not be sounding so bitter and envious about Brentford’s recruitment policy.

Veracity Verdict – 0

Thank heaven for Mark Warburton, who invariably tells it as it is and does not attempt to embellish, obfuscate or exaggerate. Supporters are far brighter than many people give them credit for, and football managers cannot pull the wool over their eyes if they expect to retain their credibility. Honesty is always the best policy.

Can We Take Any More Excitement? – 10/7/14

SergioSomewhere in the dark recesses of Youtube I am sure you can find some long-forgotten blurred and faded black and white footage of a Watney Cup tie forty-four years ago between Hull City and Manchester United.

That game in a short-lived preseason tournament, heralded the first ever penalty shoot-out in a professional match in England.

The first player to take a kick was George Best, and the first to miss was Denis Law.

Ian McKechnie, the rotund Hull goalkeeper who Brentford fans still have clear memories of from THAT Cup tie in 1971, saved Law’s kick, and was also the first goalkeeper to take a kick; but his shot hit the crossbar and deflected over, putting Hull City out of the Cup.

The penalty shootout has become recognised as perhaps the best, the fairest, the most heartbreaking and certainly the most exciting way to settle a drawn Cup tie and last night was no exception.

As always there was a hero and a goat.

Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero was the match winner plunging to make two decisive saves whilst Holland’s hapless Jasper Cillesen was unable to break his duck as four penalties whizzed past him. two of which looked eminently saveable.

As for Tim Krul, who had thwarted Costa Rica so effectively if controversially in the last round, he remained helpless on the bench as Louis van Gaal was unable to produce another rabbit from his hat, having already used all three of his substitutes.

Poetic justice perhaps as Krul’s gamesmanship in the previous shootout, aided and abetted by a weak referee had stuck in the craw of all but the most rabid Dutch fan.

Anyone wishing to understand more about the subject is recommended to read Ben Lyttleton’s new book “Twelve Yards”, a groundbreaking and fascinating exploration and explanation of the art, psychology, history and culture of the penalty kick – and how not to miss them.

Given that last night’s was the fourth match of the 2014 World Cup to be settled by a shootout then perhaps you feel that some of the teams could have done with an early sight of Ben’s book!

Brentford fans are no strangers to the horrors and delights of the penalty shootout and whilst it has been unpleasant, if perhaps cathartic, to dredge up some of the memories, there have also been some triumphs.

Perhaps the most painful shootout was in 1995 when a Brentford team finished second in the Second Division in the only season which saw only one automatic promotion place owing to Premier League restructuring – it’s Brentford Innit!

We should have won comfortably in the Playoff Semifinal at Huddersfield where Bob Taylor’s open goal miss still rankles and amazes and the referee missed Andy Booth’s climb all over Kevin Dearden for their equaliser at Griffin Park.

Penalties it was and Denny Mundee, who ironically had scored two penalties against Huddersfield in the League that season, managed to outguess himself and missed.

Argentina’s Ezequiel Garay showed how a centre half should take a penalty last night, driving an Exocet of a shot into the roof of the net, straight down the middle but unfortunately Jamie Bates did not follow his example and his weak effort was easily saved by Steve Francis and the Bees had lost.

I can still hear the eerie quiet that descended like a blanket of fog around Griffin Park as we filed out after the match struck dumb by shock and disbelief.

Richard Lee had a wonderful penalty shootout record for the club back in 2010/11.

He needed something to go right as his start at his new club had not gone well and he was out of favour with manager Andy Scott. A succession of loan keepers came in but Lee played in the Cup ties and his overall performance and then penalty save in the shootout from Jermaine Beckford won Brentford the tie against Eveton.

Better was to come in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy as he masterminded an unprecedented three successive penalty shootout victories against Leyton Orient, Swindon and then Charlton, when touched by genius, Lee saved three successive spot kicks, a feat only previously achieved by Graham Benstead against Wrexham in 1991.

Richard’s account of how he prepared and psyched himself up for these shootouts richard leemakes for fascinating reading and I can highly recommend his book “Graduation” to all budding goalkeepers.

Brentford’s last penalty shootout remains fresh in the memory as victory over Swindon in the dreaded Playoffs was secured after five perfect penalties from Sam Saunders, Paul Hayes (yes, Paul Hayes!), Harlee Dean, an emphatic thump from skipper Tony Craig followed by a wild-eyed celebration and Adam Forshaw’s cool coup de grace.

Simon Moore too played a match winning role by saving Swindon’s fourth effort and the side taking their penalties second won the day, a feat only achieved in 40% of all penalty shootouts.

Love them or hate them penalty shootouts are here to stay but penalty kicks have proved to be Brentford’s nemesis on so many occasions recently and I am sure that we will return to this subject as soon as I can face it!