Brentford travelled to the North West for the 2nd successive Saturday only to be edged out by a solid looking Bolton side in new manager Neil Lennon’s first home game in charge.
Bees boss Mark Warburton kept faith with the same side that drew 0-0 with Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday, Harlee Dean preferred to James Tarkowski despite the latter being available after suspension.
From the start Bolton looked to put Brentford on the back foot and could have been ahead inside 30 seconds, a move involving Jermain Beckford saw a scrambled clearance and Dave Button called into action instantly. For the opening period Bolton were in charge, keeping Harlee Dean on his toes and it took several towering headers and slide tackles to keep the hosts at bay.
After a slow start The Bees began to grow into the game, Jota as usual looked lively, he looked to turn and run at defenders or play a team mate in for a chance. It was baring fruit to a degree, a series of corners were forced via the feet of the Spaniard, two consecutive crosses saw Alan Judge shoot at an angle from distance only to see his effort go behind after a deflection.
Throughout the game over playing was an issue for the Bees, as it seems to be for periods in most games. Taking risks can pay off but it can also cause problems, as it did when Alan Judge tried to dribble out of the box to launch a counter attack only to be closed down and ultimately dispossessed which saw Button called into action again.
After going in level at the break the opening to the second period was all Brentford. Alex Pritchard got much more involved and seemed to spur on his fellow midfielders to up the pace of passing which brought about gaps in the hosts defence, but alas the final ball evaded Andre Gray time and again despite the utmost efforts of the front man who worked tirelessly to find space.
Just as the Bees were getting up a head of steam Bolton broke and from distance a low but accurate drive found the net to the relief of the home crowd and new boss Lennon. This gave the hosts something to build on and for a brief time looked like they’d score again every time they went forward. Indeed they did just that when substitute Davies doubled the lead when a ball dropped favourably for him before dribbling round two Bees and finding the net with a rasping shot.
To their eternal credit Warby’s young team didn’t let their heads drop and continued to press. Dougie would have scored with a firm header if it hadn’t have gone straight at the keeper who turned it over for another corner. With time running out the deficit was halved when Alan Judge found sub John Toral who bewildered an oncoming defender before ploughing a shot into the opposite corner, the most satisfying aspect apart from the skill involved was Toral turned to the fans with a double fist pump and motivational arm movement not seen since the days of Gary Alexander.
In 7 minutes of stoppage time due to a severe looking injury to Alan McCormack, Moses symbolised the never give up spirit of this crop of Bees. He was everywhere supplying crosses for others and embarking on mazy runs himself. Unfortunately despite this late pressure it was Bolton who scored the 4th goal of the match.
In the dying seconds Dave Button went up for a corner which very nearly resulted in an equaliser but was cleared up field by Bolton with the Bees keeper still making his way back to his goal which presented the Trotters player with the simple task of sliding the ball into the empty net.
Going to Bolton was never going to be easy in the circumstances, the Lennon factor boosted their team and fans, they are a much better team than their league position suggests. 3-1 looks like we’ve been soundly beaten but far from it, Brentford could have easily been 2-1 up before Bolton scored their first. As silly as it may sound the positives far out-weigh the negative despite defeat.
Lessons will be learned from this and I’m confident we are just an ounce of luck away from going on a run that will see our doubters soundly proven wrong. However as a final note I stand by the views I stated in an article I wrote for Beesotted, Big Nick needs game time to get fitness and up to the pace of The Championship. Please Warby, play the Giant German with Andre for more than 10 minutes.