I didn’t think I’d see a team and performance this season that would outdo Brentford’s with ten men away against Bradford City this season for dispirited weakness. So thanks must go to the beleaguered Bristol City team in its 3-1 defeat to Brentford on a slightly soggy Griffin Park pitch. It is amazing how in the space of half a season we have gone from such cluelessness ourselves to recording a tenth consecutive home victory keeping us at the top of the League 1 table.
It was a strange build up to the game. There had been a long online conversation between Brentford fans convinced the game would be called off with many for some reason even hoping for this despite our good form and the fact that our opponents’ sole away victory had come months ago at Carlisle. Even odder were City manager, Steve Cotterill’s comments in interview with the BBC saying that he’d be rotating his squad and hoped not to weaken it too much. Seeing their top scorer, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (JET as one wag behind me on the Ealing Road terrace tried to sing), left on the bench suggested that Cotterill wasn’t joking. The suspicion that they’d turned up expecting to lose was heightened when their number 5, Flint, scored a neat own goal five minutes into the game when under no pressure. Orient and Wolves fans seeing that might well have had their fingers readying to dial the Football League to complain at that point.
However, it soon looked like it wasn’t going to be quite that easy when a handful of minutes later former Bee, Karleigh Osborne found himself in acres of space to fire across Button to equalise. Then, the peculiarity continued as he immediately pulled up with an injury requiring substitution.
Any nerves were quietened as the Bees scored twice more to stroll to a comfortable 3-1 lead by half time. First with Alan Judge’s first goal for the club then, through Marcello Trotta. Having been standing behind the goal when he missed that penalty against Doncaster at the end of last season, it was a testament his talent, courage and hard work and moreso, the fairness of Bees fans that his name was sung out by the same fans who’d happily have shot him then.
The second half was somewhat disappointing in that while we were never under any serious threat we also didn’t score again. Listen to me! Sounding like a Chelsea fan moaning about only winning rather than thrashing an opponent. It did give an opportunity to see Arsenal youngster Chuba Akpom in action. I’m not sure he’s quite strong enough to make an impact but he showed little flashes of skill and some incredible little bursts of pace which hint at the player he might become as he matures. I remain unconvinced by Will Grigg. Overall I think the substitutions in the second half rather took away our momentum, but with a comfortable lead while missing Dean, Forshaw and Saunders, perhaps it is too much to expect every sub to be fantastic! Especially given McCormack’s magisterial performance restored to midfield and Trotta’s demonstration of the skill and determination that have seen him graduate to the Italy U21 squad.
Logan played well enough at right back to give manager Mark Warburton a nice selection headache. Can we do without McCormack in midfield when Forshaw returns? Or is Saville due a rest then? Kevin O’Connor also had a composed game at centre back in Dean’s absence. He didn’t put a foot wrong and distributed the ball well. Although perhaps in part that was a sign of how little City threatened. Meanwhile, City’s defence seemed to be having a competition to see whether Flint or number 3 Williams were the worst full backs in the division. All in, a poor reward for the decently large away following for a midweek game when their club were in the relegation positions.
A final point. While like every other Bee I’d like to be able to turn back the clock and make Trotta’s penalty against Doncaster go in, or at least have had the team turn up to the first half of last season’s play off final, seeing Yeovil surrender a two goal lead to lose 3-2 and sink to the bottom of the Championship makes me appreciate this season even more. Schadenfreude, don’t you love it?