Brentford 2, Bournemouth 0

Image: Warm up for pundits and players alike

Confident but humble, that was head coach Thomas Frank’s description of his team’s attitude after they had eased their way into eighth place in the Premier League table.

Confident? With Ivan Toney back in the side after his short injury lay-off, the Bees shook off a familiar hesitant start to dominate opposition beset by nervousness born of languishing just a point away from the relegation zone. Humble? Certainly there was little swagger and few frills evident as they ground out a win at a rain-swept Gtech Stadium.

As always, late kick-off fixtures such as this have a glamorous sheen, especially when dark has fallen enough to make the floodlights display prior to the teams taking to the field emphasise a grand occasion. The bank of seventeen or so photographers awaiting the emergence of the players from the dressing rooms leaned towards the Cannes Film Festival rather than a Premier League mid-season encounter. All very exciting.

Sadly, the football didn’t match the introduction. Brentford began as they tend to recently, trying to establish a rhythm in their play – no lack of determination but largely untidy passes and a hesitancy that would vanish only when they accepted that Rico Henry was missing with a niggling injury and wouldn’t be contributing those blistering runs down the left that we all love.

As it happened, someone else was available to do the business for Rico, more of which in a moment…

As for Bournemouth, they quickly realised that they were faced with an uphill task, a daunting realisation that coincided with a a chain reaction of players seeking refuse from the fray by falling to the ground in apparent distress and staying there for a while. How the Brentford fans hooted!

Both goalkeepers were mostly reduced to spectators until Toney injected some pep into the front-runners in the team and Brian Mbeumo and Yoane Wissa began to test a defence that, while no mugs, soon realised they were in for a difficult evening.

Image above: Says it all

It was Toney – of course it was! – who after 39 minutes obtained a result. In a penalty area skirmish, he and Marcus Senesi became untangled with arms locked and headed for the ground. Toney, an old hand in such situations, reached the turf first, whereupon referee Jarred Gillett decided he was the innocent party.

Senesi didn’t agree, neither did Cherries’ head coach Gary O’Neil, and visiting goalkeeper Neto protested so vigorously that he was awarded a yellow card. Toney smacked home his ninth penalty this season nonetheless, leaving the visitors smarting even more, no doubt, as they reflected that they are one of only four teams yet to score from the penalty spot.

Image above: Eyes glued to the big screen and Toney’s 9th Premiership penalty

Perhaps it was their ire that caused Bournemouth to inject into their performance far more energy after the break. The visitors had more possession and occasionally – but not often – bothered David Raya in the Brentford goal. Late in the game substitute Siriki Dembélé tested the keeper worryingly, but Raya, protecting another clean sheet, pulled off a splendid save.

By then the Bees had settled the outcome with an excellent breakaway goal. Josh Dasilva, a runaway train out on the left – remember my promise? – outran the chasing pack before reaching an unmarked Matthias Jensen with a fine cross. Finding himself in space, Jensen was able to beat Neto easily with a calculated shot to cap an excellent evening’s work.

Images above: Hopes for goalmouth glory

The home fans celebrated the final whistle with their customary singing and dancing as Frank and his team embarked on their customary lap of honour.

Not perfect, I told my mate Charlie, but the three points might be vital, what with Arsenal and Manchester City to come.

‘Bring ‘em on,’ said Charlie.

Brentford: Raya; Ajer (substitute Zanka 82), Pinnock; Mee Janelt; Jensen, Nørgaard; Dasilva (Damsgaard 82); Mbeumo (Lewis-Potter 89), Toney (Schade 82), Wissa (Roerslev 71).

Bournemouth: Neto; Stacey, Mepham, Senesi (Rothwell 78); Kelly; Christie, Lerma (Rothwell 78), Cook (Pearson 35), Anthony (Siriki Dembélé 66); Billing; Moore.

Image above: Woody, Brentford’s super fan 

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor of the Bees United supporters’ group. Pictures by Liz Vercoe.

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