Brentford arrived in the north east for the last league away game of the season knowing what was needed, and Doncaster having surprisingly lost opened the door still further.
With all eyes now on the late kick off for the presence of the television cameras.
Whether it was the freedom Hartlepool were playing with, results midweek having conspired to relegate them without kicking a ball, or stage fright mixed with a bit of complacency following heroics of Tuesday in Sheffield, something was off with the Bees from the start.
Defensively we didn’t look ourselves, understandably to a degree with the absence of Tony Craig in the heart of the back four, replaced as he was with the returning Kevin O’Connor.
Upon being brought back in having sat out the insanity of Bramall Lane, Dougie was his usual industrial self. The numbers game did however favour the muscular build of the home side with young Jake Reeves being over powered in every 50/50.
There were chances and brief glimpses of the side that we are but build up play that would usually end with Clayton being on the end of it instead reached the lively BWP and Trotta, not for the want off effort but it was clear that the big number 9 was being badly missed, not only in open play but on throw in duty, a mantle taken over by the out of sorts Shay Logan whose slight frame doesn’t allow for throws to be as effective as they are by Clayton.
On 25 minutes, having offered little in way of attacking threat previously, the hosts took the lead. We were the architects of our own downfall; Shay gave a shocker of a pass directly into the path of the grateful attacker who proceeded to run at and beat the hapless left back before firing a low drive beyond Simon and into the net, much to the amazement of their own supporters.
This stunned the promotion chasing Bees into something like the usual high standard we’ve become accustomed to. Knowing what was required, the travelling swarm of Bees fans gathered behind the goal upped the decibels seeking to get the team going, and it worked.
A hopeful ball and a flick lead to a Dougie header cannoning back off the post, the move was kept alive by BWP and Trotta, the big Italian then took matters into his own hands, a run fitting of his status of Premiership loanee, which indeed would have graced the highest level, leaving the whole of the home defence sprawling before slamming home an equaliser, much to the delight of the loyal supporters who erupted with relief and delight in equal prop
ortion. Half time arrived with the scores locked at 1-1.
Having not been at their best and gift wrapping an opener for the opposition a volley was doubtlessly fired by Uwe during the interval as the passing game that had brought so much success so far this season was resorted to where possible.
In the middle, Jake Reeves was being bullied continuously and was given 20 minutes after the break, before being replaced by big Tom Adeyemi, who instantly improved prospects of demonstrating our superiority and producing a winner.
Sadly it wasn’t to be despite a few near misses and blocked shots, notably from another sub in the form of Farid who had replaced Trotta came within a whisker of connecting with a header at one of numerous corners forced by the much improved Bees, with Harry replacing Lee Hodson in a signal of intent by Uwe. Ultimately the spoils where shared in what was probably on reflection a fair result.
So, as we thought it would months ago, it all comes down to Doncaster. Anyone who was at the reverse fixture would have seen a performance to have won any game, we dominated them yet still came away with a 2-1 defeat, wondering exactly how.
I think I speak for everyone connected to Brentford Football Club when I say, that it really doesn’t matter how we do it as long as we win. Yes, they’ve got the best away record in the division, but we’ve got the best home record.
Most importantly The Don is back, we all know he’ll have chances, so please football God’s smile on us and let us achieve what has in years gone by seemed but a distant dream. We’ve got 90 minutes to make it reality.
By Chris Horricks