This will be my first match since the Barnsley debacle nearly two months ago and despite going undefeated for two games, I can’t say I’m optimistic about our chances this afternoon. Kone will be available again but whoever we play in the back four they seem equally inept. Williams is doubtful and given the impetus he gave us last week, he would be a big loss. Hopefully McManaman will start along with Williams but that’s no doubt a hope too far. Brentford are four points ahead of us and they have striker Vibe returning, about whom I know nothing but he’s certainly got a cool name and any striker must fancy his chances against us these days. I was entertaining fantasies of Big Sam returning to bale us out but with there being a sudden vacancy at Leicester, he may well be offered a job there. Storm Brian is due to arrive here sometime this afternoon and maybe he’ll blow one in for us – we certainly need some help from somewhere. Anyway, I’m off in a minute to soak up some pre-match atmosphere. Match prediction: 2-1 to Brentford.
As I approached the Griffin Park the wind was really blowing hard and I was struggling a bit to keep up my pace. I noticed I was the only person not to be searched before I entered the ground; that’s one benefit of having grey hair I suppose. I was in my seat about 2.30 and it was almost on top of the goal-line; the ground’s even more intimate than Loftus Road. I saw a flag emblazoned with Jakarta Bees – I can’t imagine there’s many of them. I wondered why our mascot Delilah was wearing a funny yellow hat and then I realized it was Buzzette, one of the Brentford Mascots. The fact that they were playing in red and white stripes was to confuse me a little for the rest of the afternoon.
Williams wasn’t in the squad and McManaman was on the bench so that was bad news. As we kicked off a gentleman behind me summed up the thoughts of many when he shouted, “Get yer fuckin’ finger out, yer cunts!” We started attacking the opposite end while I and most of those around me were sitting down which felt a bit posh. We started off okay and Watmore should have got on the end of a great pass from McGeady but he failed to met it. Next thing we were one down and it came from Catts losing possession to a robust tackle in the middle of our half. He lay on the ground appealing for a foul while Brentford strolled through the middle and Jozefzoon’s shot hit the post. From the rebound Yennaris was allowed space to tap it home and put them ahead. There was much disgruntlement all around me as pass after pass went astray and we were outmuscled all over the place but suddenly we were level and it was a gem. Oviedo started it by toughing out a challenge or two down our left and then feeding the on-running Grabban whose low shot from the left angle of the box went into the bottom right corner. We started racking up the corners and I began to seriously think that we were going to score from one of them, which was an unusual thought. Next thing Oviedo took another one from the right and I thought it was going for a goal-kick but Bentley in goal kindly fumbled it into his own net to put us ahead. We’d actually come from behind for the first time this season, I believe, but better things were to come in stoppage-time when Watmore was fouled in the box after a great run down the right and Grabban smashed home the penalty. As the teams went off at half-time it was all smiles and applause in our end.
I knew there’d be more goals in the second-half but sadly they went in at the wrong end. Brentford won a free-kick at the left angle of our box after about a minute and Jozefzoon hit a great shot into our top right corner giving Steele no chance. With nearly the whole of the half to go I didn’t fancy our chances of keeping them out as they’d shown a lot more zip since the restart. Catts was yellow-carded about seven minutes in for a bit of verbal after we conceded a free-kick and plenty of us would have been happy to see him subbed as he’d had a mare up to that point. McManaman came on for Watmore midway through the half and the former certainly looked very tricksy as he dribbled his way down the right but he would have achieved more if he’d passed earlier on occasions instead of trying to beat a defender again. We were playing too deep instead of taking the game to them and in the seventy-eighth minute we suffered for standing back as Maupay, who’d only just come on, hit a deflected shot home after good build-up play by Jozefzoon. It was nearly all Brentford after that and we hardly created a serious chance so I was just hoping we could hold out. Steele made some decent saves but he does make the most of them with what struck me as unnecessary rolling around. Vaughan replaced Grabban with five minutes to go and that didn’t exactly inspire me while bringing on Gooch for McGeady a bit later caused much gnashing of teeth all around. There were five minutes of stoppage-time but we created nothing of note and our passing and positional play continued to be poor. It ended 3-3 and as Grayson walked in front of our end to get to the tunnel he rather sheepishly glanced now and then into the stand while giving us a brief wave or two. For his pains he received some applause but also plenty of boos and cries of “Fuck off!”
Having expected us to lose this game I was disappointed to only get a draw in the end. This looked and felt like a third-tier match and maybe we’ll have to get used to that.
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