As the Bees arrived at The Valley for a London derby there was a strange atmosphere amongst the travelling fans.
As the teams took to the pitch there were two changes to the side beaten by Watford at Griffin Park (albeit aided by the world’s most incompetent referee) Nico Jannaris replaced the harshly suspended Jake Bidwell (thank you Mr Stroud) and Tony Craig with his two first names and captains arm band, replaced injury victim James Tarkowski.
From the first whistle to the surprise of everyone it was Charlton who showed the urgency and willingness to get forward, belying their 13 match winless run, just like Brock Lesnar ended The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania, Charlton looked to make Brentford the 1 in 14 and 1.
Perhaps it was their manager’s future playing on their minds or perhaps the Watford performance had taken its toll, whatever it was, the usually energetic bees seemed off the pace and numerous uncharacteristic errors were made, sideways and backwards passing invited the home team even further on to the front foot.
Eventually the pressure told and what can most kindly be described as a break down in communication in the middle of defence lead to a ball out wide being ran with and deposited cooly into the far corner sending The Valley into rapture.
Surely now the real Brentford would have to come out and show what they can do, or so Bees fans hoped and thought, sadly more of the same ineptitude and lethargic play followed through to half time, when Jota did spark into life his blocked shot only resulted in a corner which was squandered.
Half time came with only one goal between the teams. Immediately from the restart it seemed that the expected level of attack and invention was taking shape, Andre Gray (not Gay as the score board said prior to kick off!) Alex Pritchard and co ran at the Addicts back line but to no avail.
Charlton weathered the storm and with an all too simple move doubled their lead with a low shot from close range, this prompted a triple substitution with Chris Long, Tommy Smith and Jon Total replacing Jota, Dave and Dallas.
In fairness to Tommy Smith he looked to make things happen but there wasn’t enough movement off the ball or on it at times. Several shots from distance were the sum total of Brentfords second half chances but every time they went wildly into orbit, were comfortably dealt with by the keeper or resulted in corners which came to very little of any note.
By the time the third Charlton goal was drilled home from an angle some Bees fans had started leaving, and as soon as it went to 3-0 in the first of 4 added minutes fans started to leave in their droves.
At the final whistle chants of Warburton, Warburton seemed to suggest some think there is change coming in the Griffin Park hot seat in the not too distant future. Whatever the future holds we as fans and the players need to stick together and push on this has been a remarkable season after 22 years away from this level, let’s not allow it to drift by due to press intrusion and speculation.
By Chris Horricks