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Brentford 1 Watford 2 (10/02/15) 11/02/2015

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

1- Sainsbury’s Own Brand Low Calorie Ginger Beer is extraordinary.  An anachronism, a throwback to when own brands really were truly revolting (cardboard breakfast cereal, yogurt you could use to hang wallpaper etc etc) this stuff is not just a little bit weak or a little bit too sweet but a work of fiendish invention, genuinely repulsive, unforcedownable.  There’s a bit of me that finds that comforting in a way, that some truly unspeakable stuff is still on the shelves is how things should be.  Not comforting enough to ever consider drinking any of it again, naturally…  I’m still concerned about how to safely dispose of the remaining five cans in the fridge without causing an environmental catastrophe by contaminating the water course…

Other throwbacks are more unreservedly enjoyable, and Griffin Park falls into that category – at least from a Watfordcentric point of view, all too accustomed to out-of-town modern stadia’n’that.  I’m perfectly aware that claustrophobic grounds where you’re close enough to the pitch to ruffle the corner flag as you exhale with a terrace under a tin roof at each end exist perfectly happily at other echelons of the game, but not often within our consciousness of late.  And on a night like this one, where it’s chilly enough to flush your cheeks but not cold enough to be a problem, where the anticipation of a clash between two positive, competitive teams ratchets the tension, where the roof is almost low enough to touch and when the lights go out the terrace becomes less a group of people and more a single entity with many bodies, the Borg of Brentford, Griffin Park is simply fabulous.  Realisation of how challenging the journey would be had briefly seen me contemplate writing off the cost of the ticket and staying at home;  progress being complicated by signal failures at Waterloo and the consequent inhuman ramming of the train across from central London hadn’t improved my mood.  “This had better be bloody worth it”.  I needn’t have worried.  I needn’t have worried at all.

2- A play in two acts, this, either side of Jake Bidwell’s sending off shortly before half time… which, for what it’s worth, was short of a nailed-on red but some way beyond something that he could reasonably have expected to get away with a yellow for.  And thinking of the game as a piece of theatre or opera isn’t inappropriate, such was the rolling drama and evolution of the piece.  Slav strode purposefully across the pitch beforehand, inadvertently contributing to his Geography teacher image by wearing a suit jacket that was just a little bit too short.  On the pitch, he continues to make similarly bold statements and has surely built up a level of confidence in the Watford support now as a consequence.  Here he switched to what turned out to be a 4-3-1-2 with Forestieri brought in to play behind the front two, and Tözsér reintroduced for the injured Munari.  And the first half was… much as we might have expected.  Both sides had chances, Brentford starting the brighter but the Hornets exerting a degree of control prior to the sending off.  We were probably ahead on points… but not to a degree that guaranteed anything at all, this Bees side have plenty about them and whilst we were on top and had had the better chances before the sending off it was all still up in the air.

2b- A corollary here for Fernando Forestieri.  Another throwback…  we used to herald “The Jamie Hand booking” on BSaD.  Now we have the Nando Thunk, reflecting on the enigma that is our mischief maker… equal parts dizzying invention and finger-chewing decision making.  There’s not really a lot to say here that hasn’t been said before, hence a corollary to a thunk rather than a thunk all on its own… except that even in the high drama of the evening’s events there’s no overlooking the majesty of a first half incident that saw Forestieri win a free kick in the midfield after a tussle with Diagouraga, spring to his heels to take a quick free kick, disarm the former Hornet by facing “the wrong way” towards his own goal with the ball at his feet, and then impishly skip over the ball and backheel it to set in motion an attack that saw Deeney come close on the right side of the penalty area.  You forgive a lot for moments like that.

3- The red card penalised Brentford, of course, and would cost them ultimately, but in the short term they benefited from developments rather better than we did.  Having their backs to the wall rather suits the us-against-the-world siege mentality that Mark Warburton seems to have instilled after all, and the team  was well equipped to sit back, snap into challenges in the midfield, and howl out on the break.  The Hornets, meanwhile, looked confused and disrupted by developments, a pattern not helped by a predictable change in mood in the away end… from a positive “Come on, get at ’em” to a sense of expectation…. “Faaaaccchin’ ‘ell Watford, they’ve got ten men”.   The success of Brentford’s approach was heavily reliant on André Gray, whose Bedfordshire heritage saw yet another throwback in the airing of songs about father’s guns and so forth but who played his role to an absolute tee… battling for possession, using his backside as a weapon of assault, chasing down everything , holding up sometimes and hounding goalwards on others which saw him score a stunning goal on the break, after which the Brentford team piled to a man on top of manager Warburton, the subject of some unheralded newspaper stories in the build up to the game.  This did the mood in the away end no favours of course;  less still Troy Deeney’s lame penalty after what looked a generous award for handball. As with Blackburn on Saturday, these aren’t the situations that you’d back us to get something from.

4- Which is why Jokanovic’s understated assessment of the second half so badly underplays what he and the team achieved (even if it does reinforce the Geography teacher thing still further – “see what you can do when you stop messing around and concentrate on your work?”).  Yes, we did the sensible things…  spreading the play, making Brentford run, allowing them on to us a little and then bursting forward, testing their legs.  Easy to say, much less easy to do particularly against competent, hardworking opposition backed into a corner with something to defend.  Juan Carlos Paredes attracted some stick for inconsistency of final ball (not to mention yet another bloody foul throw – detention for that, I think) but thundered up and down the right flank in inhuman fashion from right back, always an option.  Ditto Ikechi Anya, hugging the left touchline and needing to cut inside but always on the move.  Paredes it was who provided the cross for Ighalo to thump home a header to equalise; from then the patience on the pitch was largely reflected on the once-more boisterous terrace.  We were finding space now, overlapping over and over again.  Brentford’s stretched defence was increasingly cowering in its penalty box, David Button in goal excelling as the shots began to rain in.  The screw was very much being turned… which isn’t to say that that late winner was inevitable, but the patience in the approach never wavered.  Tommy Smith came off the bench for Brentford to polite (and perhaps overly restrained) applause from the away end, and soon picked up a harsh booking for blocking a Paredes charge into the penalty area.  As the one man wall blocking Tözsér’s kick he was inches away from the Borg in the away end, who reminded him quite what he was and where his loyalties lie.  Tözsér fooled the tiring defence by rolling back to a lurking Forestieri who drilled a low shot past Button but smack off the face of the post.  In the end, of course, it was our incredible indiarubber centre forward, who would surely bounce back above the crossbar if dropped from the roof of a stand, who provided an immaculate volley to sub Vydra’s clipped pass to finish the night off in injury time.  Words, of course, can’t do justice to the celebration behind the goal, so you can paint your own pictures of that.

5 – It would go without saying – even if I hadn’t already said it – that on top of Blackburn and red cards notwithstanding this is a stunning result in what could be a pivotal week for our season.  Above all, the fact that we adapted our game – eventually – to the situation so effortlessly is hugely encouraging… make no mistake, this was a huge challenge, and one that gives us every reason to be positive about the final third of the campaign.  As the division is shaping up, the top eight have pulled away and it seems inconceivable that anyone from outside will break into the top six.  As the teams involved continue to rack up points it boils down to who blinks and who doesn’t.  Brentford blinked tonight, and we poked them in the eye in that split second.

In the spirit of throwback, two old school items of memorabilia from BSaD to close.  Lucky Half-time Chocolate was Snickers, a bar that I had in my pocket thanks to the persistence of the guy in the shop at St Albans station on Saturday who patiently and affably explained that I would save a quid by adding it to my order.  That worked out rather well.  Finally, your scores:

Gomes 3, Paredes 4, Anya 4 (Hoban 0), Cathcart 4, Angella 3, Layún 3, Watson 3 (Abdi 3), Tözsér 4, Forestieri 3, Deeney 3 (Vydra 4), *Ighalo 4*



1. NLFG - 11/02/2015
2. MOOSEBADGEFC - 11/02/2015

Mental game, last minute winner celebrated on a terrace in style. 16 Games remaining I think 10 wins required for second. Very tough but the spirit is there just need some of the others flying in this division to buckle. The FA Cup could be the downfall of Boro and Derby. Its exciting BRING IT ON!

3. Vaughn Smith - 11/02/2015

Was glued to Soccer Special on Sky Sports 1 last night. Every time they went over to Griffin Park all the fellah could say was what a magnificent game it was – he looked like he didn’t appreciate his viewing being interrupted! They also showed the goals as they went in – Ighalo’s winner was an absolute beauty. He’s rapidly becoming player of the season – what a find.

4. Henry - 11/02/2015

Return of the scores-out-of-five melted my heart.
May I request this throwback on a (semi-)permanent basis?
*Rowson 5*

5. Sam - 11/02/2015

Keep buying the snickers Matt, as ever great summary. Some Watford fans are never happier when they have something to whinge at – the Rous being their temple — can’t work out if they a) frustrated husbands looking for something to shout at b) people who should just support arsenal c) think that watching watford is akin to something isn’t, nor will ever be. Can we make a “Moaners stand” or charge them extra to come along to a game?

6. Kentish hornet - 11/02/2015

Thanks for a really great report, geography teacher analogy very funny and perfect. My son and I were invited by a very generous Brentford supporting friend, we were right next to the watford fans but had to of course keep our reactions under wraps, I managed a very convincing “oh no” when we scored the winner, though I put my head in my hands when Deeney missed the penalty but I think I got away with it! The atmosphere was superb, no doubt stoked by the strange rumours about war burton. It would be really good to see Brentford in the prem (though of course we are first in the queue)

We could see both full backs anya defending and parades attacking second half and although neither is that convincing defending they are super quick and incisive in attack. Very good subs by the joka, abdi is the conductor while vydra really put in a shift, to me he plays much more for the team than earlier in the year. Only player who wasn’t convincing was angella, maybe the red card at Bournemouth played on his mind as he was tentative throughout.

7. Wimbledonhorn - 12/02/2015

I was sat in the home end to the right of the away fans. My girlfriend is a bees fan and she sat with me in the rookery for the home game, so I returned the favour.

My last visit to GP had been in 98′ when a certain Jason Lee got the winner. I remember on that visit thinking it odd that the away fans had a roof when the home terrace didn’t – fortunately that has now changed.

Anyway I promised her that I would keep my mouth shut if we scored but with the caveat that it may be very difficult to do so if we scored a last minute winner – I reassured her that it never happens! Suffice to say I got bit of a bollocking as I restrained myself to a fist pumped ‘yeeess’ when the winner flew in!

Great result, great game….

Matt Rowson - 12/02/2015

Noooo, not Jason Lee. Johnno. Special goal, that… BSaD Report

Wimbledonhorn - 12/02/2015

I bow to your superior knowledge. I’m sure though that Jason Lee scored the winner at Fulham to seal the title!? Don’t think it was a screamer though…

Matt Rowson - 12/02/2015

Jason Lee did score the winner at Fulham. But that wasn’t at GP (Griffin Park) as above but at CC (Craven Cottage)

Nashinho - 12/02/2015

Was that the match where we had to ask “hands up if you scored the goal”?
That is all I can remember from the entire game! What a memory….

8. Old Git - 12/02/2015

Welcome to South West Trains, Matt! As a local to Griffin Park, that’s my route home from work, so years (if not decades) of experience have taught me to leave plenty of time for any journey, especially for one as crucial as a trip to Griffin Park. Signal failures are commonplace, broken down trains and of course, the wrong sort of leaves, snow, rain, or anything you care to name.
I think I was lucky on Tuesday, from what I’ve heard from others. I left work a bit early and I must have been on the last uninterrupted journey from Waterloo.
And how great to be back at lovely Griffin Park after 17 years! I can’t believe it was so long since Jonno’s rocket last time we were there. Perfectly placed behind the goal, I can still see it bending away from the keeper and can still hear it smacking into the net. Brilliant memories…

9. MOOSEBADGEFC - 13/02/2015

I think Griffin Park is the perfect away day.

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