Image above by Liz Vercoe
Third Season: Last gasp catch-up
The good news is that the Bees’ unbeaten record in this fledgling Premier League season remains intact. The bad news is that missed chances and a collection of defensive errors meant only a late, late show of Bryan Mbeumo’s undoubted talent enabled them to pocket a point.
For the uncommitted fan, there was much to admire in this late summer contest at the Gtech Community Stadium. Bournemouth, with only a point gathered from the three games played prior to this one, offered a lesson in immaculate passing that often had the home defence scuttling about like headless chickens in their own penalty area.
Brentford, meanwhile, scored an early goal, conceded the equaliser on the half-hour and managed to survive some slick attacking play from the visitors that left one wondering why they had fared so poorly so far.
But, first, the Bees had taken the lead after seven minutes when Matthias Jensen flighted a swerving free kick from near a corner flag to a bamboozled Brazilian keeper Neto, who could not prevent the ball crossing his goal-line before he bundled it away. For undisclosed reasons, the goal-scoring wristwatch of referee Robert Madley failed to function, so, despite Leno’s limp protestations, Jensen chased down the referee to ensure justice was done.
Leno thwarted with one leg another Brentford attack and Kevin Schade was unlucky when he ran clear only to see his shot diverted on to a goalpost. Bournemouth gained in confidence, however, and after half-an-hour Dominic Solanke seized on to a Marcos Senesi pass and made ground before firing past Mark Flekken, nutmegging returnee Ben Mee on the way.
Images above by Liz Vercoe
A bonus for the paying customers – those of the red and white variety – came during half-time when Neal Maupay, clad in a no. 7 shirt, took to the pitch to say hello to the crowd. The signature on the contract for him to rejoin the club, initially on lone, was hardly dry and the news so fresh that even those who sometimes offered ribald criticism during his previous stay with the Bees were gracious in their welcoming. If he can regain his goal-scoring skill, the reasonable cost of his transfer will be a good investment.
Fortunately, as so often happens, the home side pepped up after the break, but despite dominating the play could not find their way to goal. Two more efforts that met nothing but the woodwork– Wissa and sub Lewis-Potter were the other unlucky strikers – and a glaring miss by Mbeumo when faced by a gaping net were disappointments.
But then, after 77 minutes, calamity! Rico Henry, running at what seems the speed of light, paused to play the ball back to Flekken but gave it a gentle push rather than the firm thump it required. Tavernier intercepted and fed midfielder David Brooks for him to beat Flekken easily.
The shock of falling behind in the game was compounded by the error having been committed by Rico Henry. Surely not? Rico does not make errors, especially those of the careless category.
Images above by Liz Vercoe
Bournemouth, being within almost tangible distance of winning their first game of the season, set about filling the remaining 13 or so precious minutes. This earned Neto a yellow card for time wasting and visiting new head coach Andoni Iraola the same for heaven knows what, but something to which Mr Madley took exception. The clock, presumably not the one in Mr Madley’s possession earlier, was ticking. Six extra minutes to play, but Mbeumo, doubtless still smarting from his sloppy marksmanship of before, needed only three.
Nathan Collins supplied the through ball that saw Mbeumo shake off Milos Kerkez and turn sweetly before bearing down on the advancing Neto and shooting past him. Thomas Frank, loyal as ever to his squad, looked as pleased as the sucker punch that robbed the visitors of three points.
Well, Mbeumo, Wissa and now Maupay might be a potent trio, I said later to my mate Charlie.
‘Bryan, Maupay and Wissa?’ answered Charlie, taking liberties with the names, ‘It’s BMW all over again.’
Brentford: Flekken; Hickey (sub Olakigbe 82), Pinnock, Mee (Collins 81), Henry; Jensen (Ajer 71), Nørgaard, Janelt (Onyeka 71); Mbeumo, Wissa, Schade (Lewis-Potter 71).
AFC Bournemouth: Neto; Aarons, Zabarni; Senesi, Kerkez; Christie (Mepham 87); Cook, Semenyo (Brooks 60); Billing, Kluivert (Tavernier 71); Solanke.
Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor for the Bees United supporters’ group.
Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar