When it comes to supporting Brentford, long experience has taught me not to get my hopes up too much. So it probably serves me right that immediately after I expressed some vague optimism the team surrendered meekly to Stevenage to end their run of six successive defeats. Nevertheless, I wasn’t dissuaded from making the trip up to Carlisle, themselves in the midst of a very poor run, even if OMB decided in the morning before I set off that he didn’t want to come after all.
If heaven is a place on earth, Carlisle isn’t it. Not on a freezing cold afternoon anyway. That it is practically in Scotland was emphasised in the away seats by the large number of Scots Brentford fans swelling the attendance to 254 Bees. Wherever they might have come from, that’s a creditable following for a match so far away from West London – it was 120 miles away from me in Leeds.
Unfortunately, although the performance wasn’t particularly terrible, the team barely looked like scoring all afternoon. Under Uwe Rosler it is admirable that the natural instinct of the team is to pass the ball around neatly and to look for opportunities rather than to hoof the ball forward aimlessly as it has for rather too many of the seasons I’ve followed the team. However, there was little incisiveness in front of goal so despite dominating possession and continuing to look by far the better team throughout the first half even after Carlisle took a fortuitous lead in one of their rare forays into the Brentford half, there were also few real chances testing Carlisle’s goalkeeper. I still thought at half time that it was surely only a matter of time before all that possession would pay off.
Stuart Dallas was particularly impressive in playing out wide on the left and it looked as if the switch midway in the half so that he went on the right and Donaldson on the left was about to pay off immediately when he centred the ball for a good firm shot from Forshaw to be well saved. Unfortunately, that was about as good as it got. In the second half, apart from a Dallas shot from distance that was tipped over the bar there wasn’t much to raise hopes. Trotta was ineffectual enough that it was a surprise that Donaldson came off for Bradley Wright-Phillips rather than him. But Wright-Phillips showed little more in front of goal. Perhaps Hayes might have been a better foil for him, but he wasn’t brought on and we might never find out as it was announced today that Hayes has been sent on loan to Crawley for a month. Youth player Charlie Adams fizzed about, clearly enjoying his league debut but not producing anything as the match and team wearily surrendered to a 2-0 defeat after Carlisle got a breakaway second goal against the run of play following Liam Moore losing possession. The only one of the senior players who looked genuinely up for it was Toumani “Dave” Diagouraga but unfortunately he’s not known for his accurate shooting so he wasn’t able to turn the game.
So, it was chilly, even if not too chilly for Bees fan Billy the Fish to wear shorts, and there was little to warm the fans from the action on the pitch. At least I got to tick a new ground off the list so that I never have to succumb to the temptation of going to Carlisle again. I blame myself for wishing good luck to the Carlisle fan I chatted to in the free car park a little way from the ground. OMB made the right choice.
Maybe these two weak defeats will be enough to shake the team into turning back on the style with home games this week against Swindon and Preston. I hope so, as I’m intending to go to the next, rather more local, away game at Sheffield United in a couple of weeks time. Even keeping my positivity hat on, that game will be a symbolic test of how far the club has really progressed over the last couple of seasons since we last visited Bramall Lane. The squad is certainly far stronger now and is far less tentative about the style of play introduced by Rosler. Rosler himself has also had time to try to iron out some of the mistakes borne of inexperience in that game like making the wrong substitutions at half time, although recent tinkering with the first team and inexplicably retaining faith in Trotta don’t fuel too much optimism.
Otherwise we’ve got a local derby against Martin Allen’s Gillingham to look forward to next season.