RAMBLE: Brentford -v- Wednesday

RAMBLE: Brentford -v- Wednesday

There were many reasons why I was looking forward to this fixture, none more than finally getting to visit Griffin Park.

Two of our most memorable games in recent years took place at Brentford’s home and I was at neither of them.

In May 2005 I could only watch on TV from a small hamlet in south Wales when Chris Brunt’s deflected free-kick secured our place in the League One playoff final.

Then in April 2012, I had only my radio for company back in Sheffield when Miguel Llera’s header acted as the catalyst for a day that would ultimately decide the result of the thrilling League One promotion race.

Fast forward to October 2014 and having only moved to London two months ago, this was a golden opportunity to watch Wednesday in my own back yard.

The floodlight pokes out beyond the terraces

The floodlight pokes out beyond the terraces

I work in Vauxhall, central London, so even though I didn’t leave the office until 6pm, I knew I’d get to Brentford in plenty of time.

That said, the rush hour in the capital is seemingly perpetual so catching a train out of the city is tantamount to squeezing into a tin of sardines.

I couldn’t see any football fans, just glum commuters, although I soon picked up some voices behind me talking about Trevor Francis — they could only be Wednesdayites.

The 20-minute journey seemed to last about an hour but everyone seemed to pile off at Brentford station and it was barely a ten-minute walk to the ground, via a leafy residential road.

The floodlights seemed to emanate from the rooftops of the suburban houses, and it was only when you got within spitting distance that you could make out the away entrance, tucked neatly and unobstrusively between the terraces.

At first glance it reminded me of Southport which is equally unassuming externally.

Knowing the away end was on the right side for the train station would come in handy later on, or so I thought.

The remants of Hurricane Gonzalo meant there was a bitter wind blowing down the road and several Wednesdayites were already making their way into the ground.

Now you see her...now you don't

Now you see her…now you don’t

I instead opted for The Griffin, a proper, but pokey, London boozer on the corner of the road and it was absolutely heaving.

Fortunately the majority of people were standing and drinking rather than waiting to be served and I was impressed by how easy it was to get to the bar.

The warmth offered a welcome respite from the frostbite-inducing wind — or at least that’s my excuse for only standing outside for five minutes before heading back inside for a top-up.

The atmosphere was incredibly relaxed and friendly, with plenty of home and away fans mixing as football fans should.

One Brentford fan was giving his mate an ear-bashing for negotiating his way through the crowds with a full pint before proceeding to spill half of it the moment he got outside.

A group of Wednesdayites had spotted Sky Sports News’s Natalie Sawyer (big Brentford fan) with her colleague David Garrido (big Wednesdayite) and despite her walking straight past on her way out, one lad, who was clearly a fan of Miss Sawyer’s work, missed her completely, much to his chagrin.

I was on the ‘bottom deck’ terrace so I decided to head to the ground earlier than normal to find a decent spot.

The Wednesday players warm up

The Wednesday players warm up

Once inside it was like a hybrid of Scunthorpe and Peterborough.

Out the back there was no room whatsoever and it was difficult to tell whether people were queueing for the loo or for food.

Once on the terrace the view wasn’t actually bad from the back although any high, long balls would definitely go missing behind the top deck.

I love the fact the dressing rooms are on the opposite side to the dugouts as well. Lee Bullen got a great ovation as he crossed the pitch before the players came out.

As the teams made their way onto the field, they turned the lights off in the stand which was a nice touch. It was like at the cinema when they dim the lights after the trailers, I nearly found myself checking to see if my phone was on silent.

THE MATCH

Stuart Gray made four changes in response to the 3-0 defeat to Watford, the most notable being Atdhe Nuhiu replacing Gary Madine, who seemingly didn’t respond well to the news with a childish tweet. At least he didn’t punch anyone, I suppose.

The players head out before 'lights out'

The players head out before ‘lights out’

It was a cagey start, with both sides looking to keep the ball on the ground and Brentford’s ‘keeper David Button coming in for plenty of stick for being an ‘inferior Jenson Button’. I’m sure he’s never heard that before.

He was having none of it during play, but he did give the old thumbs up at half time.

The Bees thought they were ahead after 10 minutes when Andre Gray put the ball in the net after a really nice move but he was flagged offside.

Brentford were the better side in the first half hour, with Wednesday trying to counter where possible but the Owls had a spell before half time where they did everything but score.

A fierce effort by Tom Lees, which was blocked by a Bees defender, was the catalyst for a mini-blitz as both Jeremy Helan and Stevie May had shots blocked, before Kieran Lee hit the crossbar.

Tom Lees had an excellent game

Tom Lees had an excellent game

May then hit the post from a Chris Maguire cross, which led to a promising break for the hosts who fired wide.

The game had really come to life so the half time break was an unwelcome one.

HALF TIME: Brentford 0-0 Wednesday.

SECOND HALF

I’m not sure what was said in the away dressing room at half time but all that attacking impetus disappeared in the second half and it became a battle to survive.

Luckily the back four were on top of their game, with Tom Lees and Joe Mattock in particular standing out.

Jonathan Douglas thought he had put Brentford ahead in the 50th minute but Liam Palmer was perfectly placed to head off the line.

Wednesday just couldn’t hold onto the ball long enough to string a few passes together and offer an attacking threat of their own, but Brentford lacked a cutting edge, despite controlling possession.

Keiren Westwood actually had a relatively quiet night as the Wednesday faithful belted out ‘BARMY ARMY’ on repeat to urge on the troops.

Jose Semedo showed his limitations

Jose Semedo showed his limitations

There were a few tasty tackles but I thought the referee generally did well to let the game flow, so I was disappointed when he booked Joe Mattock after the crowd reacted strongly to a clumsy, but not malicious tackle.

The aforementioned Madine came on to replace Lee, which I’ll admit had me scratching my head. It resulted in a reshuffle which saw May go out to the right wing and Maguire move to a more central role.

With five minutes left Royston Drenthe replaced May, and he looked lively. He had a golden opportunity to test Button with a free kick on the edge of the box, but he wasted the chance, curling the ball straight into the ‘keeper’s grateful mitts.

There were some hairy moments late on with substitute Nick Proschwitz having a couple of chances for the Bees, although in truth I had already edged towards the exit for a quick getaway.

The first peep had barely left the referee’s whistle and I was on my way.

FULL TIME: Brentford 0-0 Wednesday.

In summary, a draw was probably a fair result although if Brentford had nicked a late winner you might have said they deserved it for dominating the second half.

People will say our lack of goals is a worry and that we need to start taking our chances but I just think we needed a smidge more luck tonight and one of those first half chances would have gone in.

We need a striker but, with Hutchinson seemingly out for the foreseeable, we desperately need some creative support for Kieran Lee.

I love Jose Semedo, and he did all the things we know he can do well last night, but he also gave the ball away an awful lot, and just isn’t the kind of player who can turn defence into attack in a split-second.

A fat(ter than usual) ankle to take home as a memento

A fat(ter than usual) ankle to take home as a memento

Unfortunately what should have been a straightforward trip home became a bit of a nightmare. In my exuberance to catch my train I managed to miss a step at Brentford station and proceded to sprain my ankle.

I got as far as Clapham Junction where I hobbled from one end of the massive station to the other only for my next train to be cancelled.

There was worse to follow when my bus home was diverted due to roadworks meaning I had to hobble gracelessly through the windswept streets of south London.

Still, at least we got a point.

 

Creg
Owls Alive
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TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @CraigSWFC


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