Brentford is one of the nearer venues to me, but somehow on public transport, things still seem to take the same lengths of time to get anywhere. I usually go from my local station at Blackwater to Wokingham and from there to Brentford but this nearly always requires another change at Feltham or Virginia Water; making journey times boringly long for what is a relatively short journey. I discovered that I could save over half an hour by going from Camberley station which is only a short bus ride away from home so catching the train there and, changing at Ascot, I was at the ground by 6.30 to meet up with Will and Chris for a drink at the King’s Arms and later in the Griffin, one of the pubs on each corner of Brentford’s ground.
It was a bright sunny evening and we all hoped that we could at least score a goal in this match and hopefully get something out of the game. Only one goal in the last four games did not auger well but hope springs eternal before most games of football it seems and I suppose that is one of the beauties of it. Just opposite the Griffin pub was a little Chinese takeaway that sold such delicacies as sausage chips and curry sauce. When I bit into one of my chips I encountered something gritty and hard and wondered whether this was part of the content of the rather unappetising sausage or maybe one of my fillings. I was relieved to find it wasn’t the latter. It turned out to be part of the implement I had been given to devour my repast with and the photo will explain the mystery object between my teeth; another of the beautiful experiences of attending football! 😀
Well what about the beautiful game itself? This match was originally postponed because the pitch was considered so poor it needed to be relaid. I am bound to say it looked in pristine condition now and the surface, a combination of synthetic and real grass was slick, well watered, carpet flat and slippy if the evidence of numerous players losing their footing on it was anything to go by. Paul Robinson came in for Jonathan Spector, Clayton Donaldson proved to be fit after all and started the game, Shinnie failed to make it however and David Davis came into midfield alongside Kieftenbeld and Gleeson with Cotterill and Gray out wide. Caddis and Grounds remained at full back with Kuszczak between the sticks. Blues started bright and threatening for the first five minutes, after which Blues lost control of midfield; meaning they spent an awful lot of the game chasing after the ball with Austrian forward, Marco Djuricin having about four attempts in a ten minutes spell – none of which fortunately truly threatened. Possession stats reveal that we only had 34% during the game but the telling thing was we had marginally more attempts and more corners and set pieces. We also gave away less fouls. Brentford played some very neat and tidy stuff but much of it was in front of us in the middle third of the pitch with little in the way of penetration. In truth they had two decent attempts all game; one which Lasse Vibe shot straight at Kuszczak when well-placed and another in the second half from a shot by Alan Judge that clipped the top of the bar and over.
The second half was one way traffic in favour of the hosts but on the odd occasion Blues did manage to get out they did look dangerous and I felt we looked more likely to score despite the home side’s territorial superiority. Chris told me he had a bad feeling about the outcome and Will didn’t think it likely we would score. Both of them were going on about how we don’t ever seem to score from free kicks and corners and Will said he couldn’t get excited about getting corners when we did achieve one following good work by Jonathan Grounds on 70 minutes. David Cotterill took the resulting kick and there at the far post was Michael Morrison to head powerfully past the stranded Button for 1-0 against the run of play. Brentford’s play started to get desperate and inaccurate with previously assured passes going astray but they remained a threat and we were lucky to escape Alan Judge’s run and shot off the bar. The more Brentford went in search of an equaliser, the more space started to appear and Cotterill and substitute Maghoma had chances to extend Blues’ lead but in time added on a precision pass by Gleeson was seized upon by Clayton Donaldson who maintained composure despite the ball bobbling in front of him at an inopportune moment. Nevertheless he still managed to scoop the ball past the advancing Button to the delirium of us idiots behind the goal.
The score was harsh on Brentford but they have sold away an awful lot of pace that they had in their team and they flatter to deceive if the evidence of last night is anything to go by; it’s not how much possession you have that counts, it’s what you do with it. However, Brentford work hard, look good on the ball and with work on the training ground under bluenose, Lee Carsley, I think they’ll be fine albeit without hitting the heights of last season.
The Good: The fact we won whilst not putting in a top performance.
The Bad: A weak showing for the most part although we improved greatly once Morrison scored.
The Ugly: The whiffy toilets! A smell like Satan’s breath!
Brentford: David Button 6, Jack O’Connell 6, Alan McCormack 6, Harlee Dean 7, Jake Bidwell 7, Ryan Woods 7 (Andy Gogia 88, N/A), Toumani Diagouraga 7, Konstantinos Kerschbaumer 7 (Sergei Canos 69, 6), Marco Djuricin 7, Alan Judge 7, Lasse Vibe 6.
Subs not used: Jack Bonham, Nico Yennaris, Yoann Barbet, Jermaine Udumaga, Josh Clarke.
Bookings: McCormack, Dean.
Birmingham City: Tomasz Kuszczak 7, Paul Caddis 7, Michael Morrison 7, Paul Robinson 7, Jonathan Grounds 7, David Cotterill 6, Mikael Kieftenbeld 6, David Davis 7 (Maghoma 67, 7), Stephen Gleeson 6, Demarai Gray 7, Clayton Donaldson 7.
Subs not used: Adam Legzdins, Viv Soloman-Otabor, Reece Brown, Jon Toral, Jonathan Spector, Nicolai Brock-Madsen.
Goals: Morrison 71, Donaldson 90+3.
Referee: Keith Hill 7: over the whole piece, I thought Mr Hill and his assistants had a pretty sound game. He waved away two penalty shouts at our end in the second half; one against Donaldson and the other against Gray. He was absolutely correct on both occasions in my view and young Gray was fortunate to not get booked for simulation. It was a good tackle and Gray dived over the ball; he needs to cut that out since like so many players with his incredible talent, he doesn’t need to do it and sully his burgeoning reputation.