As wins go, that one could be right up there with the most important of the season. We had to dig deep and turn around a pretty poor first half to gain a vital three points and it’s not even the fact that we were near the relation zone today, it was the need to win at home and show us, the fans, that they can compete in the division.
I would have much preferred us to have dominated from start to finish and to have breezed through the game winning comfortably but that just wouldn’t be Brentford would it.
We started in the worst possible fashion and after a poor Kershbaumer pass in the middle of the pitch, Josh Clarke was roasted down the flank to allow a cross into the box. It took a smart diving block from Button to prevent the Preston forward from scoring but it was all to no avail as the rebound was driven high into the net. We just hadn’t settled and the next 15 minutes wasn’t any better. Preston could have doubled their lead shortly after as well. It just wasn’t going to plan. Kershbaumer was anonymous and my main concern about our midfield lies in our lack of a ball player. McCormack and Toums, whilst far from their best in the opening exchanges could be forgiven for their slow start as they had no outlet at all. Judge was looking isolated wide and whenever he got on the ball he had no option but to make his infield runs with no real support.
As the half went on we certainly had our chances though, Barbet had a header well saved, evidence of our set piece coach paying off as I thought the movement to open the space was excellent. Bidwell had another shot well saved after another good corner routine. But for all the good chances created I still felt we were second best. The ball was slow to be moved around and Vibe was having a bit of a stinker to be honest. It wasn’t for lack of trying but everything he did just wasn’t coming off. The one bright spark in the frustrating first 45 minutes was Josh Clarke. Maybe it’s because he’s a young lad and come through the development squad but you get a real sense of every single supporter being desperate for him to do well and considering we conceded after 30 odd seconds and especially because he was part of the nightmare that was Oxford he showed no lack of confidence on the ball. After getting the early stages of the game out of the way he got forward and looked to link up with Vibe.
There was real sense of frustration in the crowd at half time and we all knew it was going to be crucial to do well but for me we just lacked any real quality or dare I say it desire to change things. We were getting forward but where was the conviction?
Whatever Dijkhuizen said to them at half time obviously worked. We had a renewed sense of purpose and the players seemed to be determined to get back in the game. It’s at this point I want to mention Jake Bidwell. He’s come in for a bit of stick lately and not without reason people have questioned his suitability for the captaincy. Today I saw a leader. In that second half he wasn’t just playing well he was setting an example. Next to him Harlee Dean was imperious and Yoanne Barbet mopped up everything. I was very very impressed with the Frenchman and he was prenounced the man of the match by the sponsors. It was hard to disagree with that but you could make a case for Bidwell, Dean, Judge or McCormack as well.
The second 45 was not perfect and at times we was still a bit sloppy and Kershbaumer whilst much better, particularly in the latter stages still hasn’t fully adjusted to the Championship. I love his enthusiasm and when he’s on the ball he looks a tidy player but he just hasn’t provided that release valve that the two deeper lying midfielders need. Judge was buzzing around again and honestly, the opposition players must absolutely hate having to play against him. He just doesn’t stop and creates wicked angles and his darting runs always give you a chance.
When Dijkhuizen made the decision to take Clarke off I will openly admit to being disappointed and I may have thrown my hands up in frustration. He was getting forward so well and had grown in confidence since the start. But immediately the switch to 4-4-2 worked and Canos came on to really really impress. Almost instantly he had beaten his defender to square the ball to Vibe to equalise and a few minutes later almost created a second from out wide.
Moving Vibe more central was the masterstroke. As has been the case a few times this season, when we have gone to an old fashioned 4-4-2 we have looked so much better. McCormack at right back worked a treat and he has shown what an asset he is. All of a sudden we had this huge impetus and the Ealing Road crowd roared the boys forward. Marco Djuricin has had a tough start to his Brentford career. He has been sat on the bench at Salzburg and then thrown into three games in a week but he has been the player we all cried out for. He may not be in the game every minute but has that ability to cause fear in the defenders. He got the reward for his hard work when played through on goal. It looked as if he had given himself a lot to do when he drove forward but his low shot was ferociously hit past the keeper at the near post.
After that we had several more chances to put the game to bed. Udamaga who was on for the exhausted Djuricin had a real good chance but his shot was well blocked. He looked nervous at times and was guilty once or two of needlessly giving the ball away but I’m glad he’s getting the opportunity to play in the first team. A goal or two would give him a real boost and I don’t think it’s far off.
We then saw the game out relatively comfortably with Preston ‘s long ball approach playing into the hands of Dean and Barbet who won everything and we should have made the game safe several times.
Overall, we saw a team absolutely depleted by injuries to first team stars and devoid of confidence, battle back from a goal down to secure victory in a must win game. It may not have pretty in the first half but when you have a manager who isn’t afraid to mix it up and players who can dig as deep as they need to, then your always in with a chance.
I’m delighted with the win today and impressed with the turnaround. Birmingham is equally as big and we can go into it on a high.
Up the Bees