Brentford 2, Tottenham Hotspur 2

Images above: Brentford celebrating after a goal; photographs Will Hagerty

Second Season: Back to the Future

The sky was blue and so was the away strip of the visitors. Christmas had been celebrated and Boxing Day action beckoned. All was right at the Gtech Stadium, with sunshine helping to set the scene for the resumption of activities. Now, where are we…

Seven weeks since kicking a ball in anger, the Bees set out to resume where they had left off. A big ask, considering their 2-1 demolition of Manchester City was probably the most notable away victory in the club’s history, but a demand they answered splendidly for five minutes over an hour.

It took that long for Brentford to establish a two-goal lead and Spurs – slow starters who have turned overcoming early conceded goals into an art form – to wake up, and spectacularly so at that. A cross from Clement Lenglet saw a cluster of players take off skywards to meet it, but compared to Harry Kane’s spring heels, the defence appeared to be nailed to the turf. Kane’s glorious header was unerringly directed beyond David Raya.

Six minutes later, during which the visitors practised hit and run raids deep into Brentford territory, the second Spurs goal arrived, Pierre-Emile Hӧjbjerg finding some inviting, unattended space from which to fire home.

So swift was Tottenham’s turn-round that the splendidly vocal home crowd was hushed. Yet the majority would probably have accepted a draw had they been promised that result pre-kick-off. Certainly, there was much to admire in a crackerjack of a game in which each side’s striker-in-chief displayed no signs of pressure regarding their respective problems.

Image above: Ivan Toney scoring Brentford’s second goal 

Kane’s goal and the skilful marshalling of his team nullified memory of his second high, wide and far from handsome penalty in England’s unsuccessful World Cup quarter-final against France. The home crowd had earlier enjoyed teasing him with a chant of ‘Ivan Toney – he would have scored that!’ but showed the respect he deserved following his goal.

Toney, nonchalant as ever, capped a quality performance soon after the start of the second half with his eleventh goal of the season, a centre-forward’s simple conversion at the far post after a Christian Nørgaard flick-header from a corner. To Toney, those FA charges of 262 illegal bets must have been seemed a thousand miles away.

From the start, he and Bryan Mbeumo had harassed goalkeeper Fraser Forster, drafted into the side instead of Frenchman Hugo Lloris, presumably being given a post-World Cup rest although occupying a seat on the bench just in case.

Poor Forster! After just 15 minutes Mbeumo, racing down the left, ignored Toney’s feint of a supporting run to find Matthias Jensen heading towards the goalmouth at a gallop. His volley was deflected by Lenglet and Forster could only parry the ball, leaving Vitaly Janelt to prod it home from close in.

Images above: Brentford line up to defend against a free kick


Toney’s goal was as good as it was to get for Brentford. Having earlier dashed clear to score – demonstrably offside, but good for the soul – he joined the rest of the Bees in fending off Kane and company right until the added five minutes were up. Forster was doubtless pleased to have a breather as Spurs established domination. Lloris, a superb keeper, may well have been happy that he hadn’t been called upon, especially in the first half.

Thomas Frank, while later regretting the loss of two points, called upon just three substitutes – two with only a minute of ordinary time remaining – which for him is possibly a record; normally he likes to see four or five joining any defensive battle being waged by his players.

Most spectators – excluding the ever-dissatisfied loudmouths – seemed happy enough. ‘Happy New Year’, I wished my mate Charlie, adding a reminder that there is still one game to go this year, West Ham hosting the Bees on Friday evening.

‘No problem. They’ll just be blowing bubbles’ said Charlie.

Brentford: Raya; Zanka, Pinnock; Mee; Roerslev, Jensen (substitute Ghoddos 67), Nørgaard (Dasilva 82), Janelt; Henry, Mbeumo (Wissa 82), Toney.

Tottenham Hotspur: Forster; Tanganga (D Sánchez 67), Dier, Langlet (Davies 90+5); Doherty, Bissouma, Hӧjberg, Perisic; Kulusevski, Jane, Son Heung-min.


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

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