Charlton 2 - 0 Brentford
Brentford played well, and for much of the game were the only team attempting to play football, but a freak goal bouncing in front of and over a slippy Richard Lee and a 90th minute breakaway did for the Bees.
Woodman was brought back into the fold at the expense of Bidwell who had his least good game for the bees against MK Dons. Eger was alongside Legge once more and Bennett filled in for Logan at right back. Woodman was solid, the centre back pairing good, with Eger seeing a lot of the ball as Charlton were happy for us to play it out from the back and Bennett was a bit dodgy really. His passing lack crispness but he probably just needs some games. He might also be a better centre half than right back!
Weston and McGinn were given wide duties with the now regular middle three of Douglas, Dave and a more forward looking Bean. Donaldson was up front on his own.
Douglas was involved in everything in the first half, sometimes playing quick balls, sometimes holding the ball looking for the right pass. In the second half Charlton made an effort to mark him and he had to drop deeper to get the ball or move out wide. He did look completely knackered by the end but we'd used up our subs by then.
Although we rarely created gilt edge chances we were always in the game and always looking for the equaliser. On 63 Bennet was replaced by the more forward looking Dean and the excellent Bean was sacrificed for another forward in Alexander. The good play continued but we just lacked that bit of subtlety to unlock the defence. Uwe replaced Weston with Saunders when you actually felt that Forrester might have been the better bet but we duly got a free kick just outside the box for Saunders to smash at the wall and hit an outstretched arm of the defender. A stonewall penalty which the referee insisted on making one of those over-exaggerated signals of 'no penalty!'
We did manage one excellent opportunity when Douglas fed Donaldson who moved beautifully into a shooting position a couple of yards out and missed the target completely! Very frustrating.
Charlton had their chances too, hitting the post and always looking dangerous on the break and from dead balls.
I know I say it on all my reports but we need to create chances. We can play some excellent football, especially away from home, we can summon up a great comeback towards the end of a game at GP but ultimately we do not score enough goals and we do not make enough goal scoring chances.
Lee; Bennett (sub Dean 63 mins), Legge, Eger, Woodman; Bean (sub Alexander 63 mins), Douglas, Dave; McGinn, Donaldson, Weston (sub Saunders 72 mins)
Subs (not used): Moore, Forrester
Brentford 3 - 3 MK Dons
Brentford's first half Christmas tree formation was an absolute disaster leaving the home side two down within 7 minutes and three down at half time.
Alexander up front, with Oyeleke and Bean just behind, Saunders, Douglas and Weston in the middle, Logan, Legge, Eger and Bidwell at the back. It was an unexpected line up and unfortunately Oyeleke looked very much out of place. His touch was poor and he and Eger got in each other's way for one of the early goals and apart from one strong challenge in his own area was rightfully substituted at half time.
By which time the bees were down three nil after MacDonald returned to Griffin Park to slot in from a couple of yards. He refused to celebrate his goal and received polite applause for doing so. This upset some Brentford fans and there were a few arguments amongst fans during the rest of the game and afterwards. Personally I applauded his lack of celebration and the respect he showed to the fans who supported him for three years - and no, that doesn't mean I should go and support MK Dons!
Alexander found himself through on the goalie after 18 minutes and probably took the shot too early and skewed it wide. He did the same with a more difficult chance later in the half and Saunders's free kick straight at their keeper was the bees only chances of note in the first half.
The second half was more of the same but we showed a little more going forward with Donaldson replacing Oyeleke and changing to a 4-4-2 formation. Weston had a decent shot saved while on 65 mins Bidwell and Saunders combined to get a ball over to Donaldson who played in Alexander for the bees first goal of the game. MK Dons were still creating chances when with 16 minutes to go they were penalised for a clear handball and Alexander made it 3-2 with a powerful drive from the penalty spot. It was only then that the bees felt a comeback was on. The crowd really got behind the team. Forrester came on with ten minutes to go and Brentford's play went up another notch.
Two minutes into injury time a Saunders' free kick was headed against the bar by Legge who reacted quickest to head the rebound into the net for a fine comeback.
Unfortunately, we are not to know what would have happened if we had started the game with the line up and formation we had started the second half with, but what is clear is that Forrester is going to be an exciting addition for us. There was a great atmosphere in the ground when the comeback was on and it's always fun to watch the opposition fall apart like that but basically the last two late equalisers are just papering over the cracks.
Lee; Logan (sub Dean 83 mins), Legge, Eger, Bidwell; Douglas; Saunders, Bean, Oyeleke (sub Donaldson h/t), Weston (sub Forrester 81 mins); Alexander
Subs (not used): Moore, Dave
Brentford 1 - 1 Bournemouth
Brentford were second best in the Boxing Day encounter at Griffin Park but escaped with a point from a last gasp Leon Legge trademark header.
The bees started the game in lacklustre fashion giving the visitors much of the ball, the early running and the early chances. They duly scored on 19 minutes, something they nearly managed twice before with identical crosses worked down the bees right.
Alexander's header against the outside of the post was the only chance of note for the bees in the first half.
The second half wasn't any better with Lee making a very good save, while Flahavan in the Cherries goal pulled off a theatrical stop from Saunders.
The usual time-wasting from an away side with a one goal lead was to be expected but the bees, for the first time in the match began to press and in the fourth minute of injury time Donaldson crossed the ball for Legge to smash it home with his head.
The players of note were Legge, Dave and Alexander - the latter two were the only ones who seemed at all interested in harrying the opposition. Bidwell was solid.
There were occasional groans at Donaldson when he seemed to be waiting for the ball to come to him rather go to it but I would suggest that the balls throughout the side aren't played with enough ping or zip or whatever you want to call it. Clayton is a very talented player and can kill a ball stone dead or move it into space with a touch. But if you keep playing weak balls to him and he has to keep coming to them he'll always have the defender on him. Away from home we seem to play the ball better with a higher tempo and more zip.
Maybe Uwe is right and we need to play 4-3-3 at home too but we'd probably need stronger players than the wide men we've been using recently. Both McGinn and Saunders seem to be happy with the ball but they aren't going to get it back for you. Alexander defends from the front and Myles is willing to chase down defenders. I don't know the answer but if we play like we did today against MK Dons on Saturday we'll get hammered.
Lee; Logan (sub Grella 75 mins), Legge, Dean, Bidwell; McGinn (sub Weston 63 mins), Douglas, Save (sub Bean 75 mins), Saunders; Alexander, Donaldson
Subs (not used): Moore, Eger
Bury 1 - 1 Brentford
Brentford drew 1-1 in Bury after failing to put away their ten man opposition.
The Bees put in a decent shift with loanees Bidwell and Dean impressing but failed to clear in the box late on as Bury forced an equaliser from nowhere.
Gary Alexander had scored the game's first goal from the penalty spot after a foul on Toumani Diagouraga.
Whilst Brentford looked pretty comfortable yesterday, their 4-5-1 formation did little to create the chances which could have won the game although Bean and Dean were both denied by the home keeper.
The draw sees us retain sixth point in League One.
Bees - Lee, Logan, Dean, Legge, Bidwell, Dave, Douglas, Bean, Saunders (Donaldson), Alexander, McGinn (Weston)
Unused Bees - Moore, Grella, Eger
Brentford 2 - 1 Hartlepool
Brentford managed a deserved home win against Hartlepool in front of 6,352 fans.
Brentford created a couple of good chances in what was a rather pedestrian first half performance. Saunders put in two good crosses that weren't converted and McGinn created a great opportunity for himself before lashing it into the side netting, claiming a deflection.
Hartlepool had a lot of possession and much of it in the bees half but were unable to make many clear cut chances.
The second half started a little brighter. It's amazing what a higher tempo can do to get a positive reaction from the fans. Alexander was chasing things down, the full backs were storming forward more and Saunders was running around like a maniac.
The breakthrough came when McGinn found himself with the ball on the edge of the box and lobbed the keeper, it wasn't high enough and fell into the keeper's hands but he failed to hold on and let it slip into the net. Cue clown music and it's all your fault chant!
A few moments later and some weak challenges on the edge of our box allowed Collins to lash the ball passed Lee. There may have been a deflection along the way.
Again, just moments later, the bees are on the attack and Dave is pushed over in the box for a penalty. Up steps Alexander hits it low to the keeper's right but the goalie is down in time but not only fails to hold it but it falls directly at the feet of the onrushing Alexander for the winner.
We had some good play towards the end and could have gone for a third but decided to keep possession and go for the corner flag.
Overall we were more offensive than Hartlepool and deserved the three points, even though we owe their keeper a big favour!
The keeper was the one that threw the young lads off the pitch a couple of seasons ago, hence the chants of Paedo, which I like to think unnerved him. Ha! Serves him right.
There were some good performances in the second half and Gary Alexander is a good leader, getting stuck in and leading by example, almost dragging the team with him sometimes. Captain material really. Legge was awesome too and pulled off some great saving tackles.
I don't care what anyone says I think Clayton Donaldson is a class player. I just really wish he'd score!
Brentford: Lee; Logan, Legge, Dean, Bidwell; McGinn, Douglas, Dav, Saunders (sub Bean 86 mins); Donaldson, Alexander
Subs (not used): Eger, Oyeleke, Weston, Grella
Barnet 0 - 0 (aet 3-5 on pens) Brentford (JPT)
Brentford lost on penalties at Barnet in the JPT.
In truth Brentford dominated the game - both on the pitch and through a strong 1000+ away support - but poor finishing and a couple of decent saves from the Barnet keeper took the games to penalties. Which we lost - Jonathan Douglas missing the vital spot kick after turning in a fairly uninspiring 90 minutes.
Whilst last night wasn't all doom and gloom it doesn't hide the fact that we have been knocked out of the three cup competitions by Hereford, Barnet and Wrexham.
If we are to salvage anything from this season in the league, the rot needs to stop now.
One area of concern is the poor form of our strikers - Clayton Donaldson has certainly misplaced his shooting boots. Uwe needs to address this and fast - as a formerly prolific striker himself it's a worry that we are so lacking in this area of the pitch.
Brentford 0 - 1 Wrexham (FA Cup)
Frankly that was rubbish. Wrexham were easily the better team in the first hour of the game and thoroughly deserved their place in the next round.
They scored from a thunderous drive into the top corner which Lee couldn't be faulted for after 33 minutes but had numerous chances before and after that.
The sum total of our threats was a Saunders free kick parried onto the post and away by their keeper and a weak glancing header from Alexander that was snaffled by their goalie fairly easily.
It's difficult to find any pluses. Lee didn't do anything wrong. Oyeleke, who came on as a second half substitute for Grella, was certainly keen but failed to release the ball a couple of times preferring to try and trick his way into a shooting position. Can't really blame the lad.
Near the end Saunders bottled out of a 50:50 tackle much to the home fans' annoyance.
Lee; Logan, Legge, Dean, Woodman (sub Donaldson 81 mins); Saunders, Dave, Douglas, Weston (sub Oyeleke h/t); Grella (sub McGinn h/t), Alexander
Subs (not used): Devlin, Eger, Reeves, Bean
With thanks to beesotted for their match reports
January 4, 2012