Last Saturday saw third meet fifth at Griffin Park, as Mark Warburton’s men met Aitor Karanka’s Boro boys. When the two sides previously faced one another, Brentford received a 4-0 beating; their only thrashing this season so far. The Bees had learnt their lesson and since then have consolidated their position amongst the play off places, shocking the Championship and making us fans question if this is really happening.
Knowingly, this match was to be a test for the Brentford boys, who were still buzzing from an emphatic win away at Norwich the weekend before last. Although Warbs’ men were high on confidence with three wins on the spin, Karanka’s team were soaring even higher after winning their mid-week FA cup clash with Champions Manchester City. Showing they are a side serious about competing for the two automatic promotion places on offer, the Brentford lads knew this wouldn’t be easy.
With a 12.15pm kick off, due to the game being live on Sky Sports, it meant an early start and wrapping up in 10 layers just to survive the long 90 minutes we had ahead of ourselves. All that was going round and round in my head was the prayer that Brentford would show what they could do, whatever the result be, I just wanted us to show everyone what potential we have. How far this squad have come and more importantly, why they deserve to be where they are now.
The first half was excellent. Beyond excellent. We pounced over Boro like hungry lions, constantly attacking them with every chance we had, threatening them and causing them to lose focus. Chances from the fantastic Alex Pritchard, Spanish star Jota and intelligent striker Andre Gray kept the Middlesborough defence on their toes, whilst powerful strikes from Stuart Dallas kept the opposition’s keeper busy, with one shot being fired and diverted to bounce off the post. As we pressed, it seemed every chance we took and missed showed a sign that this wouldn’t be our day.
As it got closer to half time, things took a turn for the worst. On 44 minutes, a ball over Harlee Dean was idiotically ignored and allowed Patrick Bamford access into one on one with Brentford keeper David Button. Button panicked and attempted to grab the ball before Bamford, bringing him down and unfortunately resulting in a point to the penalty spot. Leadbitter scored from the spot, a goal that changed the whole game. Brentford fans around me disillusioned by what they had just witnessed.
The second half saw a game of two halves, with both teams battling for the three points. Constant efforts made by the Bees were blocked by Middlesborough’s sharp defence, who saw off many crosses into the box and kept an eye on Dallas in particular. Constant timewasting by the opposition emphasised their inability to control the Brentford boys as they pushed. As extra time was called, Warburton went for gold and brought on Tommy Smith in order to push the Boro defence harder.
It was in the dying seconds that a cross into the path of Jonathon Douglas, only inches from the goal line, was shot and saved by the hardworking Boro keeper. So close, yet so far. The fans around me shivered and sat back down, empty and quiet, knowing that was the last chance of the game. As the final whistle sounded, I felt tears swell up in my eyes. Why? I’m a big girl when it comes to football. But when it comes to Brentford, I’m a total wimp.
Now, I wasn’t upset because we had lost against third in the league. I was disappointed because we had put in an excellent performance against another talented team, who genuinely struggled to control us for most of the match, and lost. I am not now thinking about battling for safety in the Championship. I am now believing we could actually make the play offs. Not believing, in fact, I don’t want settling for safety, I want to challenge those around us and I want the play offs. Why not?
Am I asking for too much Brentford?
No. This isn’t little old tinpot Brentford anymore, this is a squad developing day by day and who have the potential to go far. Believe me. Believe in them.
Miranda Rose Wayne
The BIAS blog is the space to challenge perceived wisdom, entertain readers and inform our members. The views expressed are those of the author and they don’t necessarily represent BIAS policy and (pay attention journalists) shouldn’t be attributed to BIAS.