• Brentford 0 - 0 Albion, 26.12.2015

    On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, a stalemate at Brentford FC

    So here we are again, with the festive season taking its toll on many of us, having consumed our own body weight in Brussels sprouts, beer and Belgian chocolates over the past few days. Itís at times like these that a bit of fresh air & football is exactly what the doctor ordered, and so to Griffin Park headed the two thousand or so, by car, coach, self-balancing scooter, camel, everything in fact bar the train, thanks to Network Railís jolly festive engineering programme.

    It was perhaps reflective of the mood around Griffin Park on Boxing Day, that the Albion playersí first half performance could best be described as lethargic. Not to suggest that any of them have been knocking back the mince pies, of course, but recent games have started to expose the lack of depth in the squad, and one or two key players look a little tired. With a lack of quality alternatives on the bench, Chris Hughton has little alternative but to persevere with the same names.

    Brentfordís rapid passing style found gaps in the Albion midfield, and it was clear that Inigo Calderon was the main target for their busy wingers. Cover in the full back positions is desperately needed come January, with all due respect to the Great Man. The Bees had the majority of first half possession, although for all that, failed to create much in the way of clear cut chances, and David Stockdale would have been relatively happy with the defence in front of him.

    The second half proved to be a much more entertaining game of football, though not without its nervous moments. Whatever Hughton told his players in the dressing room seemed to have worked, and the Albion emerged, for twenty minutes or so, with a new determination, pressing their hosts higher up the pitch and making better use of wingers Murphy and Van La Parra. Murphy in particular curled a shot just wide of the top corner when he should have done better, whilst another effort from Kayal went straight at David Button in the Bees goal.

    Inevitably, the home side came back, largely orchestrated by Alan Judge. Judge is a lovely player to watch, and has a great deal of talent. He also has an unusually high centre of gravity for a small man, which leads him to fall to earth faster than the Apollo 13 command module. This led to a booking for the unfortunate Dale Stephens for the most trivial of fouls, which he could easily have paid the price for when hoofing another Bees player fifteen minutes or so later (never underestimate the ability of a footballer to make a stupid tackle at the wrong time).

    Suspension thankfully averted, Stephens was the pick of the outfield players for the Albion at Griffin Park. Kayal looks tired, Murphy off form, van la Parra blows hot and cold. Solly Marchís season-ending injury appears ever more crucial, while the LuaLua setback-comeback-setback routine goes on & on. Stephens, meanwhile, continues to show his value to the side, and has become one of our biggest assets this season.

    The last fifteen minutes of the match became the David Stockdale show, as he pulled off a string of saves to deny Brentford. The pick of them, from a Jake Bidwell header, had the away end- well, those of us who werenít already standing- on their feet. Many of us were already resigned to an onslaught of gleeful cheers of the home fans when the big Yorkshireman extended his Inspector Gadget arm out and clawed the ball away. It was the sort of save that makes opponents feel like theyíre never going to score, something that you just canít put a value on.

    The positives of the day: a clean sheet against a good side, Goldson getting more game time, Brunoís continuing FLAIR against much younger opponents, Brentfordís cheery stewards in the away end. Less so: few chances created; Greerís injury; when Brentford took their worst player, the hopeless Woods, off; Elvisís Manuís late cameo which left at least two observers pondering whether they actually have the offside rule in Dutch football.

    So, no win at Brentford, but the unbeaten away record goes on, and itís a point that may well look a very good one in the big end of season shake-up. Make no mistake, this wasnít a point dropped, but one earned, by sheer hard work & guts on the part of a very patched-up side, and a positive reflection of the Albionís collective spirit.

    If good King Wenceslas had looked out over Griffin Park on this particular feast of Stephen, heíd have observed that the defending was deep, the passing not terribly crisp, but the result was, most importantly, even.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. HantsSeagull's Avatar
      HantsSeagull -
      a point dropped?? could only have been two points dropped surely?!!
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